HM student experiences with COVID-19: Celine Kiriscioglu

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Celine Kiriscioglu

Contracting a virus that has caused a global pandemic was, as you could probably predict, not fun. 

Although one might imagine self-isolation to be similar to a cozy day at home after the school shuts down because of dangerous weather, the 14+ days I spent at home were filled with moments of pain, fatigue, and lethargy. 

Once my family found out that we had all contracted COVID-19 after my father’s routine test for work came back positive, we were devastated and worried. My sister and I, fearing we had already spread the virus, immediately contacted friends and peers that we had talked to, stood by, or had a class with at school. We communicated with the school nurse, DeAnna Cooper, to make sure anyone with whom we had contact with on that fateful Monday was safe. 

During the first few days after I found out I had COVID-19, I felt vulnerable to the reactions of other peers that were affected due to my positive COVID test result. Many people had different responses to the 14-day quarantine, most of which were negative. I hope everyone who had to quarantine understands that it was and could not have been my intention to harm them or their school experience. 

Initially, my entire family was asymptomatic. But after a few days we experienced some of the most common symptoms, including sore throats, muscle and body aches, and persistent headaches. However, I did not fear the virus that was taking over my body, since I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, which I had tolerated before in the 15 years of my life. It was not until I woke up for another day of online school and couldn’t taste my morning breakfast that the fear began to trickle in. In disbelief  that I had lost my sense of taste and smell, I truly felt one of the strongest emotions: sadness. Of course, my inability to taste the flavor of an apple or lemon juice in a salad was only a minor impact of the virus, as I soon faced greater symptoms of COVID-19: fatigue and exhaustion. 

No matter how early I tried to fall asleep, which is already a tough task for many HM students, I woke up and joined my Zoom meetings with a fog-filled head and a compelling desire to return to bed. Throughout the school day, I had to follow the regular in-person schedule rather than the adjusted online schedule, which meant I was always facing a screen. 

Sometimes I had challenges with prioritizing my health and my commitment to schoolwork, since I value each very much; on some days, I couldn’t decide between taking a break from school and powering through studying for an upcoming test. I have always had a “hard work pays off” mentality, and taking 15 minutes to drink water and get rest in the middle of a school day didn’t seem like the ideal decision during a week of exams and quizzes. Looking back a couple weeks ago, I should have reached out and contacted my advisor or my teachers to take a period off or have an extension on an assignment to prioritize my family’s and my health. 

One of the most terrifying moments was when my father had to go to the hospital for a week after testing positive since he was having trouble breathing. My father is also stubborn when it comes to receiving help and prolonged his stay at home when he couldn’t breathe normally. After a week of acquiring needed care and being treated with Remdesivir, a medicine which prevents the progression of pneumonia in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, his health and strength improved and he returned home. 

I want to warn the entire HM community to steer clear of the possibility of contracting COVID-19 by wearing proper protective gear, practicing safe social distancing, and monitoring your health daily. Contracting COVID-19 took a huge toll on my physical and mental health and I missed out on the joy of seeing my friends, peers, and teachers at school. 

Although quarantine was not the highlight of the year for my family and many others, I was able to start a new tradition of baking banana bread every other week and I was able to write more short stories in my free time. 

My sister and I are very fortunate to have recovered and we hope that anyone who has been affected by the pandemic recovers and gains strength to continue to take precautions.