My Experience in Clark Isolation

Benjamin Kruger, Contributing Writer

A couple of weeks ago, in the days leading up to Halloween, I became a bit sick. My main symptoms were a fever, chills, and extreme fatigue, but thankfully I never tested positive for coronavirus. These symptoms started the night of Monday the 26th, where I woke up and could not stop shivering. I took my temperature, which tested at about 101 degrees. I promptly freaked out and emailed all my professors explaining the issue, though I had – thankfully – tested negative that day. My professors were very understanding, and I decided to sleep in since I was up until 4 in the morning feeling awful.

I spent my Tuesday chilling (literally) and taking my temperature every now and then, with it consistently staying above the normal 98.6 degrees. I decided to go to an online lab, which in hindsight was a good decision, but in the moment I was struggling to focus and complete my work. I mainly ate simple food and Gatorade, and my roommates were very kind in taking care of me. Tylenol helped me in feeling better as well. On Wednesday I rested, took more Tylenol, and drank plenty of water. My fever spiked to 103 degrees. I also left a voicemail for Health Services. Then, on Thursday, I woke up early to call health services again, and they said I would need to get tested and then go into isolation.

They asked about my symptoms, then had me picked up to go get tested after I packed up a few days worth of clothes. I also brought my laptop and some chargers, along with some home food. I then left and was escorted by van to be tested outside the Kneller in the little white tent. I was then escorted outside to an apartment on Maywood street where I would live for the next few days. It was empty on that floor except for me, though that wasn’t made clear to me immediately. 

They provided cafeteria food, and some small pamphlets about support and CPG, along with resources to call if I needed anything. They do ask about one’s food preferences; I informed them that I was allergic to nuts but they gave me nutty granola bars anyway. The majority of the physical things seemed to be handled by UP, whereas the health aspects were managed by the health services. There were some things provided, such as water bottles, “deodorant bars” (I still am unsure if they were soap), food, sheets/a pillow, Tylenol, and a thermometer, among other things, but that was about it. I was a little surprised they hadn’t provided any hand sanitizer and was worried the entire time that I would somehow catch it from someone else in the isolation building. I spent the rest of my day relaxing and watching “Parasyte: The Maxim.” I also received an email from a Clark administrator who was very kind and helpful. I had been feeling better throughout the day as well, but was nervous for my COVID test results.

I got a call from Health Services on Friday, and they asked if I could come by while it was snowing. I obliged. They explained that I would need to wait for my symptoms to get better (they had been getting better thankfully), and at least three people there asked if I wanted Gatorade. If my symptoms were gone by the next day, I would be released. They gave me a five minute strep-test, which came back negative. I was escorted back in the van to the apartment.The nice thing about isolation, especially as someone who has been living off campus and doing everything I can to conserve electricity and heat to keep the bills down, is being able to use hot water, heating, and lights as needed. It was very nice in that aspect. However, isolation and the worry about what I had (if not COVID, then what?) along with missing classes was wearing down on me. I was definitely missing human interaction and sitting around in a house without any noise except those from the streets or my laptop quickly became stress-inducing. It was funny reflecting on how I’d always assumed that isolation would take very long to wear someone down, or how it would only affect people if it was a tiny prison cell with no light. I was living comfortably, but the isolation got to me after only a couple days. It wasn’t pleasant but it was very interesting to see it happen. Another interesting piece was how hard it became for me to focus. I attribute this to the idea of getting out preoccupying my thoughts. 

I once again spent my day watching “Parasyte” and texting friends. The next day, I was up early, and awaited a call from the doctor, which came a good while later than I had expected. I had begun to pack up my stuff as I had tested my temperature the previous night and that morning, and it had been at or below 98.6 degrees each time.

Finally, I received a call from the doctor and explained that I felt okay now. She said that it was fine for me to leave isolation, though, however, if my symptoms came back in the following week or more, I should let them know. I packed up the rest of my things, turned off the lights, and left. 

My roommates were excited to have me home, and I was excited to be able to have real food again and be able to shave the small goatee I’d grown over the past week. It was at this time that the effects of being isolated really began to show themselves, though. I felt relieved to be home and around people again, but it felt weird to socialize. We watched Rocky Horror Picture Show that night since it was Halloween, but frankly, I felt a bit overwhelmed despite the fact that it was just me and my roommates relaxing and watching a movie. It left me feeling a bit rotten, and a part of me wanted to just retreat into my room and watch the rest of “Parasyte.” I was able to catch up on schoolwork over the next few days. Overall, my experience in isolation here at Clark was interesting to reflect on, but between the loneliness, uncertainty, and Sodexo food, I wouldn’t recommend it.