I, like many Bates students, am feeling beyond ready to return to campus to see my friends and start classes. I talked to my roommate on the phone last week, and as we were going on and on about how great it’ll be to be back in our dorm room together, we also recalled something else: the extreme anxiety that comes with COVID-19 testing.
While it is amazing to get tested three times a week — now increased from last semester’s twice a week — waiting to receive test results can be stressful. Especially going into the winter semester, a time when both of us seem to perpetually have colds, we realized how easy it is to convince yourself you have COVID-19, even if all you have is a runny nose.
One Sunday afternoon this fall, my roommate complained of a runny nose, which is normal for her. That didn’t stop a gigantic stress spiral where we both convinced ourselves we were probably going to die because we’re really calm, cool, and collected people. After a long conversation, a little bit of crying, and a lot of chocolate, we decided to self-quarantine in our 201 square foot Chu Hall double until we got our test results back.
To try to get through the stressful 51 hours that we thought we had COVID-19, I created a diary to mark down specific moments I felt were important in our emotional (and perhaps physical) demise. At the time we both agreed it was too embarrassing to see the light of day, but here it is:
Sunday, 6:49 pm: The start of our complete isolation began a few hours ago. We celebrated by sitting on our floor and watching an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Despite the shenanigans (Tristan keeps gifting Khloe jewelry. What’s up with that?!), my mind still drifts to an overwhelming sense of dread.
Sunday, 7:10 pm: My roommate prepares for a 30 minute long, “chilling out” shower. “Why am I enjoying this, bro?” she asks me. I look at her in disgust, as I am slowly breaking out into stress hives. I suppose we all handle these things differently. She now tells me she wants to post “cryptic pictures” to update her Snapchat friends. I want to crawl in my bed and never see the light of day again.
Sunday, 8:04 pm: Currently trying to come to terms with the fact that “Is frequently stress peeing a symptom of coronavirus?” is now in my search history forever.
Sunday, 9:38 pm: My roommate is contemplating buying a phone case with a bunch of rainbow koi fish on it. This virus has started to take a serious toll on our decision making.
Sunday, 10:24 pm: Before I turn out the lights I check my phone one last time. My uncle has sent me a picture of my four year old cousin wearing a Bates sweatshirt. I find this so moving that I start quietly crying. I am clearly a shell of myself.
Monday, 9:34 am: How many times can I listen to “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor before it gets weird? Maybe like 20?
Monday, 11:54 am: “How are you feeling?” my mother texts me. Physically, I feel fine. Emotionally, I feel like I’ve listened to “I Only Wanted” by Mariah Carey (an incredibly underrated deep cut from 2002’s Charmbracelet) fifty times in a row while driving dramatically in the rain. It’s a mixed bag.
Monday, 2:58 pm: My roommate and I are feeling completely fine. I keep refreshing my email, but I have yet to receive my test results. How dare they? It’s been a whole seven hours.
Monday, 4:06 pm: We literally have no symptoms. As I start to relax, I hear the opening chords of “I Will Survive” come creeping into my head. I listened to it one too many times.
Monday, 7:33 pm: Just found myself screaming at my roommate: “Just because you have a scratchy throat doesn’t mean you have COVID-19!” This pandemic is really taking us down.
Tuesday, 4:52 am: I wake up in a cold sweat and check my email. My results are in and I’m negative. I almost started crying. Wait, was that a cough? Maybe I’ve contracted it in the last six hours. Should I be isolating?!
While it can be funny to look back on the 51 hours that my roommate and I thought we had COVID-19, it’s important to remember the environment we are returning to. So, as we start to move back in, I urge Bates students to be smart and safe this semester — while also trusting the system and not jumping to conclusions too quickly.