I came back to Lancs and tested positive for COVID-19: Please take this pandemic seriously

Trust me, you don’t want it x

I tested positive for coronavirus two weeks after moving back to Lancaster. After my flatmate showed symptoms I knew that my sore throat was more than just freshers’ flu. Stood in the kitchen, I coughed violently until my chest ached and I knew it was a bad sign. After taking the test my suspicions were confirmed and I was forced to come to terms with my positive result.

That first day I retched so much I thought I was going to throw up, my coughing echoed throughout the whole flat. The virus had completely drained the life from my body. I struggled to get out of bed, my energy levels had plummeted to an all-time low. I struggled to get up for my lectures at the best of times and now even the act of making toast felt like an Olympic sport.

“You’re trapped!”

Cue the voice from BBC’s Trapped because isolation feels as if I have been locked at the top of a tower destined to wallow in my solitude for the foreseeable future. I can recall my 12-year-old self watching the show almost a decade ago and wondering how seriously the punishment was taken, were those poor children really abandoned on a TV set indefinitely, or would they be able to eventually go home and see their families after a day of filming? I felt a strange parallel between my current situation and the TV show paradox I had created in my 12-year-old mind.

To prevent the spread of the virus around our flat, it was decided that I would self-isolate in my room. The only communication I had with my flatmates was through our online group chat. The only time I saw them was when they delivered my food. While it could be seen as a positive that I didn’t have to cook, I had completely lost my independence, having to message my flatmate to fill up my water bottle as I was banished from the kitchen. Additionally, whether they had decided to whip up coq au van or just a cold piece of toast made no difference to my post-COVID taste buds. I was much more invested in the brief conversation which was served as a metaphorical side dish with my dinners.

I just want to go outside

The only change in scenery I had was watching people walk past my street-facing window. But this just reminds me that I can’t go outside. Hours are lost as I stare out of my open window and everyday merges into one as I feel any semblance of routine or structure drift away from me. The window becomes a portal to my friends on the outside world, it is both my escape and my communication device. But it’s just not the same.

My social life was already limited. I came back to Lancaster to see my friends. But now I can’t even meet up with them outside in a socially distanced environment. Coming from someone who can’t even walk down her street: please don’t break the rules and meet up in large groups, I can’t even see the people I live with. I miss my friends. I miss the fresh air. I miss going to the shops. I miss stupid things like loading the dishwasher and watching ‘The Chase’ when I should be watching my lectures. I miss my freedom.

The guilt of spreading it

COVID spreads easier than Philadelphia on a bagel, it is a speedy boi. Living with someone vulnerable, I constantly fear that I will give them COVID. When I hand them my plate or we are in the corridor at the same time I feel guilty. I stay in my room to protect them, but if they caught it I would feel as if it was my fault.

Having COVID means I bear a heavy responsibility to keep others safe, with an equally heavy fine if I go outside. It is scary that I could potentially infect someone else. It is not just about me.

COVID sucks

My symptoms include a violent cough, sore throat, high temperature and loss of taste. The only thing I have to look forward to in a day is food and now I can’t even taste the same! This virus is dehumanising me: I struggle to get out of bed, I am constantly pale and my body has just shut down.

It is just a waiting game. There is no cure but patience and I’ve had enough. It is not “just a cold”, it’s a virus which alienates you from your friends, shuts you out from the world and makes you feel drained and lifeless. I have never felt more ill in my life and it is horrible.

Being away from family

When you test positive for a virus which has killed thousands of people around the world, you want to be around family for support. But at uni, you are away from home and it can make the experience more lonely. The only way I can see my family is through a screen on Face time. It makes it feel as if my family is even further away. Apart from the “Get well soon” e-cards sent from my Grandma, I feel very disconnected from my family.

You have a responsibility, not just for yourself, but for everyone else to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Take it seriously. Follow the rules. Don’t be selfish. Anyone can get it, it might not be you, but it could be someone you love.

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