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Diary

Sick on campus? Get used to isolation Add to ...

Louise Yeon is a first year student at Dalhousie University in Halifax where she is a goalkeeper on the women's soccer team. The Ottawa native is currently sickened with H1N1 and must be segregated in her dorm room. After having no direct contact with others for a few days, and the flu symptoms still raging, she faces several more days in isolation. She shares her thoughts with Globe readers on living with swine flu.

I walked in from a soccer game one evening not feeling so well. Hearing warning after warning from the news, my coach, my friends, my mom, I decided to hit the pillow and try to sleep off whatever it was I was feeling. Waking up feeling worse than I had before, my friends asked if I was feeling 'swiney'. I said I doubted it but little did I know 'swiney' meant tired, sore and achy with a dry cough and a fever around 102 degrees, not to forget the chills and failing to keep my food down for too long.

After sleeping a 13 hour night, I got up to watch my team win their last regular season game but after a couple worried looks about my well-being I decided it was time for me to head back to my room and go to bed. I haven't left since.

That night, my RA brought me a hydration package consisting of juices, soups and Halloween chocolates, took note of my temperature and suggested I call the Health Clinic ASAP. First thing the next morning I called and the reception transferred me over to a nurse who kindly asked me to list my symptoms and asked if I was having trouble breathing. It seemed to me that breathing was about the only thing I was still doing well. She told me from what I had described I had H1N1 and that I needed to stay home, quarantined, until 2-3 days after my symptoms disappeared, and to go to the hospital if and only if I was having severe trouble breathing. Little did she know, or care, that my home consisted of the average university dorm room: simple and small, all-inclusive with a bed, desk, vanity, some floor space and a sink for the cherry on top.

My profs and TAs were all very understanding and considerate towards my swine flu, willing to schedule separate mid-term exams for me, delaying hand-in dates and telling me not to worry and get some rest.

I spent most of that day sleeping, reading and getting some homework done. Quickly though, the idea of being isolated lost any kind of appeal it didn't have to begin with. In leaving my room only occasionally to take a ten second walk down the hall to the bathroom, the four walls of this little space seemed to be quickly caving in.

Here I am, four days later and seeing as my symptoms still haven't gone, I can expect at the very least another three days of solitude. My window looking out into a courtyard and some nice houses across the street seems to be teasing me with nice weather, which in Halifax I must say is a blessing. I've developed a bittersweet relationship with my computer and the internet is quickly running out of things to offer. Emails, Facebook notifications, Skype messages, phone calls and text messages have kept me more or less sane. I have some of the best friends trying to keep me in good spirits by keeping me posted on what is happening in the rest of the world, sending me get-well messages and funny YouTube videos. I seem to find myself waiting for those two or three times a day when I get a knock on my door and I can finally open it to a friend or two bearing a tray of food. They stand across the hall and I stay in my room with the door ajar taking all precaution so that I don't transfer the virus. We share a few minutes of conversation and laughter and off they go again to their daily activities of class, soccer, homework, friends, etc. And I go back to my confinement.

With the swine outbreak and the lack of natural immunity the orders to STAY PUT are simple enough to understand and easy to follow. Nevertheless, I'll be more than glad to step back in to a normal, self-conducted lifestyle when this is all over with.

 

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