After class, I went back to my room to study for the next day’s midterms, but first, I needed to take care of the newfound chills. I threw on a heavy sweatshirt over the sweater and long-sleeved shirt I was already wearing. In the process of studying, I began to doubt that my sub-par physical status was related to my sleep deprivation, realizing that the last time I had a fever I felt the exact same way. Unfortunately, neither my friends nor I had a thermometer.
Feeling pretty damn lousy, I needed a nap, so I curled up, still dressed in all three layers, under two blankets and an alternative down comforter. I never warmed up and my roommate insisted that I go to University Health Service when I woke up.
When the nurse first took me back, she asked if I was dealing with flu-like symptoms, and once I said yes, she immediately ran for the hideous blue facemasks. She took my temperature reading and discovered I had a fever, but she could not recall right away what reading would warrant being quarantined.
When I mentioned I had two exams the next day, all she said was, ‘Oh no you don’t, not if you have a fever!” She left the room, and suddenly some overwhelming sensation came over me. I started to tear up. Why was this happening to me? Would my teachers understand?
Surely, I was quarantined. My roommate couldn’t believe it, and both of us were laughing quite a bit about it. For some odd reason, the nurse had given me a mask and wore one as well when she was in the room with me. So we took a picture with the muzzles and uploaded it to Facebook, which received heaps of attention in such a short timespan.
More than ever, though, I was ecstatic to see that little red notification box with each new comment because Facebook was about all I had the energy for and was one of few things I could do being confined to my room.
I e-mailed my teachers to explain the situation, and even though I missed two midterms, they all seemed very understanding, were sorry I was so sick and only wanted me to get well.
I spent the next 60 to 70 hours in my room, with the exception of going to the bathroom, a fire drill and walking back to UHS for a throat culture. It’s sad to think that going to get a throat culture could be the highlight of my day simply because I got to go outside.
And on top of the sheer pleasure of getting a little fresh air, the UHS receptionist gave me the award for the most fashionable disguise tip for any girls who may have to deal with this in the future: wear a scarf to cover your mask.
With the free time that was forced upon me, I was able to catch up on many of my television shows, but the experience was certainly not fun.
While the idea of having an excuse to lie in bed all day is appealing, you don’t want to be quarantined. It’s boring as hell. Besides, you can’t get anything done when you feel like shit.
You have to wear a mask and you can’t even get your own food. It was immeasurably frustrating to be so uncomfortable due to illness that when required to stay in my room, I could hardly even get a good night’s sleep.
Usually I would not hesitate to take medication to feel better, but never before have I adamantly tried to avoid it at all costs. I was not allowed to leave my room until I had a fever below 100.0 without taking Ibuprofen for 24 hours.
While I hung Post-it notes on my wall to track when I last took medication and what my last temperature reading was, some unidentified friends of mine took the liberty of covering my door with ‘Prevent the flu, wash your hands!” signs with images of, given the fear of the H1N1 virus, Piglet.
Having been through this whole debacle, I’ve become more understanding of the hype about H1N1 and aware of how fast the flu spreads.
I’d been bombarded with information from the University about how to prevent H1N1 and what to do when feeling sick, and while I read it, I never ever expected to have to deal with it. But then one morning, that skepticism vanished.
I was surprised to find out how well UHS took care of me, despite the wait. As a walk-in, I was nervous I’d be turned away or told I had nothing to worry about, but that was simply not the case.
Even though I was actually supposed to call ahead because UHS wants to keep all flu patients out of the office if possible, the nurses did not hesitate to evaluate me.
I was officially freed at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16. My friends laughed at me as I commented on how beautiful the trees looked and how the crisp air was undeniably refreshing.
Seligman is a member of the class of 2012.