I caught Covid and *almost* finished my dissertation

Although this does not mean I recommend testing positive – it was still pretty rough

Wednesday 2nd March 2022. I have a cough. I test negative. I go to work and feel even more exhausted than usual. I shrug it off presuming it’s just the rough 3 am hours.

Thursday 3rd March 2022. I do another test. It’s positive. I do another. It’s very faintly positive. I leave my Pavs flat and go straight to the walk-in PCR test site next door. My flatmates banish me and my boyfriend, James, to my bedroom.

Friday 4th March 2022. My PCR test comes back positive. I feel horrendous.

That’s how my journey with covid started, and it eventually developed and – thankfully – ended.

When I first tested positive my flatmate Chloe wasted no time in advising me on what I should spend my isolation doing: finishing my dissertation. I told her that was a good idea but, really, I was inwardly groaning. I study English and Creative Writing and have an 8,000 word ghost story to do for my dissertation. At this point, I was on 4,000 words and constantly struggling to keep up with my supervisor’s desired pace.

When the reality of the symptoms settled in on my second day of positive tests, I knew it wouldn’t be possible to do any work. I had awful headaches, felt tired, I was coughing, my throat was sore, I was feeling too hot and then too cold, and couldn’t get any sleep at night. This lasted for three days in total. I spent my time either sleeping, eating comfort food, watching TV, or slowly tidying my room.

March 7th

At this point it became clear that I was on the mend. It was perfect, I thought I would be out of qauratine in no time and I would be able to make it to all my seminars. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even though my symptoms got better (apart from an annoying cough which still hasn’t left), I ended up testing positive for 11 days in total and didn’t make my way back into society until Monday 14th March.

Now I had no excuse not to do work. And also, I had to occupy myself in some kind of way otherwise I would have gone crazy. Conveniently, I had a dissertation workshop scheduled for Friday 11th and therefore had to send my progress to the rest of the group by 9 am on Thursday 10th. I thought carefully about the challenge Chloe had suggested I embark upon and realised it would be a huge weight off my shoulders to reach the word count of 8,000 words.

Over Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th, I managed to write around 1,000 words amongst other typical quarantine tasks such as moving furniture around, internet shopping, and collecting treat-filled food packages from family.

March 9th

Somehow in my solitude, I managed to write another 2,000 words between bouts of slipping into insanity. When it got to 3 am on Thursday 10th I was at 7,000 words, so I gave up and sent it to my supervisor. I couldn’t go on any longer. I was disappointed to be only 1,000 words off the desired word count; looking back on this now though, I should have been very pleased with myself. 3,000 words in three days was impressive.

I couldn’t make it to the workshop on Friday because I was still testing positive, so I absorbed myself in other activities: I made the invitations to my upcoming 21st birthday party, James and I started the most difficult pizza jigsaw we have ever encountered (and probably won’t ever complete it), and I enjoyed doing some non-uni reading for once. I accepted that I just won’t reach 8,000 words on the ghost story yet, and I honestly couldn’t be bothered to continue.

March 12th

And then, in the early hours of Saturday 12th, out of nowhere, I remembered how close I was to the word count and desperately wanted to have something to show for my time in quarantine. So I wrote another 1,000 and just about reached 8,000 words by 4 am. I did it.

Well, not quite.

The thing is, even though I’m at the correct word count, I haven’t actually finished the story and still need to add many more spooky scenes before it’s finished. But that’s not the point. The point is that I had 4,000 words when I went into quarantine and 8,000 when I re-emerged. The point is that I achieved a challenge I initially didn’t even want to do nor did I think I could do. I experienced moments of both high and low productivity; moments of laziness; moments where I only wanted to do other, more fun tasks.

We’re students at the end of the day and we have other things we want to do, as well as the studies we have to do. It’s perfectly normal to be getting through your dissertation at a slow and uninterested pace. As long as you get there in the end it doesn’t matter. But if you are lucky enough to get sudden bouts of motivation, or you set yourself a challenge and want to prove your capability, or you get stuck inside with covid for 11 days – take advantage of it. Do what I did and just go for it. Reach the word count or any other goal you set for yourself. And even if it’s still not finished at the end – like mine – you’ll still be so much closer than you were before.

Despite the moments of feeling ill or feeling bored or feeling like a social outcast, quarantine wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed being a bit lazy and watching films, and I enjoyed venturing into the world of non-uni tasks such as the jigsaw, the reading, and even planting pumpkin seeds. And because of my quarantine, I am much further along in my ghostly dissertation and the relief I feel from that is incredible.

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