It’s a new semester and another chance for me to tell a horror campus arrival story.
Last semester, I was put in isolation while waiting to get tested for COVID-19 and had issues with food and the heat, but I was still better off than my fellow isolator Phillip, who didn’t have bedsheets when he arrived at 1 a.m. But that was last semester.
When I woke up to fly back to Quinnipiac University from New Zealand this time, I felt more confident. I knew the new route that I had to take to get directly to Hartford. This trip had a few hours of layover added to my flight plan to round it up to an unpleasant 47 straight hours of travel, but I had faith.
I arrived in Hartford and in the three days that I was isolated in a hotel, I made the unfortunate mistake of not drinking enough water. I didn’t realize this at the time. The dehydration meant that I arrived on campus feeling very nauseous. One cheeseburger from the York Hill campus cafeteria and no water pushed me over the edge and at around 6 p.m., I was feeling incredibly fatigued and sick. I had some diarrhea, and once that was over, I assumed I was in the clear for a while.
I was wrong. My stomach became worse. I then had what I assume was a panic attack as it fit all the criteria for one. I asked my friends to call an ambulance and vomited what little remained in my stomach. After a brief talk to the medical staff in the ambulance, they elected not to take me to the hospital as they determined I wasn’t showing COVID-19 symptoms, but rather symptoms of an extremely bad stomach bug. They thought that if I went to the hospital, there was a chance I would contract COVID-19, which could be severely harmful while my immune system was compromised.
After being sent back into Crescent, I was soon contacted by the residential director and was sent to Mount Carmel campus to get a rapid COVID-19 test, a PCR test and to be isolated. I sat in front of two health service nurses, quite clearly very weak and dehydrated. One of them even said they thought it would be a bad idea to put me in isolation by myself.
Nevertheless, they did anyway, and I spent the next two days in pain from the food that was being sent to me, worsening the condition of my stomach. I asked multiple times for plain food, but I received acidic fruits and sauce-covered sandwiches. It wasn’t until the final day, just before I received my negative COVID-19 PCR test and was allowed to leave that they gave me food I could eat.
This story isn’t designed to make you pity me. I’d like to think of myself as someone who is in a pretty good place medically. I shared my experience to warn people about what to expect from health services. If the health services workers can’t determine that someone who is extremely weak and barely able to concentrate is not someone who should be left by themselves, they shouldn’t be trusted. If I hadn’t figured out that I was extremely dehydrated, I might have passed out in my bed, thrown up in my mouth, choked and died.
Thinking back on it now, I have a few people I have to thank for ensuring that didn’t happen to me. My roommates who gave me the crackers that I was able to digest, just before I left for isolation. The public safety officer who came to ensure I was getting better in the middle of the night. And finally, the residential life worker who gave me some plain food on my last day, even though it wasn’t her responsibility to do so.
As for health services, I don’t have many positive thoughts to share. I now have a fear of getting sick or injured, not for the sake of the ailment, but for how health services will treat me when I come to them for help.
So, unless you test positive for COVID-19, you’re probably better off sitting in your room in pain than seeking their aid.