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My Personal Pandemic Experience (Diary)

COVID-19 Pandemic: April 8th Entry 

My grandfather has been in the hospital for a total of 7 days.  Last week was a scary one indeed.  They say that the coronavirus is more severe in patients who already have other health related issues to begin with.  Well my grandfather has a history of bad health, probably because he never took care of himself in his younger years.  Amongst other things he has an aneurysm, and doctors attempted to operate on it about a month ago, but something stopped that from happening: the flu.  While sick, a patient should not be operated on.  Therefore, the first step was to get rid of the flu.  For weeks he went to the doctor and my mother and my aunts always called to check in on him and give self care tips.  He wasn’t eating, nor was he sleeping.  He had constant headaches, perhaps from the damage caused by the aneurysm.  My grandfather didn’t show any signs of improvement until about a month later.  Just when we thought it was over, he was attacked once again by an unidentified respiratory illness.    

Twice he tested for COVID-19, and twice the test came back negative.  But it simply made no sense – my grandfather’s lungs were in poor condition, he was coughing severely and could barely speak.  This wasn’t the flu anymore – that was the one thing doctors knew for sure.  The bug was unidentifiable, but given my grandfather’s condition, he was treated as a COVID-19 patient.  Though the tests were negative, lung scans and symptom analysis suggested otherwise.  I recall reading an article stating that a patient tested negative for the coronavirus 4 times, and by the 5th exam, it finally came out positive.  The ability of a virus to disguise itself from identification is simply mind boggling, and the fact that it was happening to my grandfather was even more peculiar.  

Last week was a scary one because my grandfather was in bad shape, and he was showing no signs of improvement.  One day last week, he reported feeling much better, but not even 24 hours later, he was once again bedridden and perhaps even in worse condition than he was initially.  Such is the nature of this disease: unpredictable.  Fortunately, my grandfather is doing much better this week, and we hope that he will be back to full health soon.  The only concern now is that while he may recover, he can still be a carrier.  My grandmother unfortunately has terrible lungs from years of working in factories, and if she were to contract the disease, the outcome would not be one I’d like to think about.  But, my family members and I will remain as positive as possible.  At a time like this, positivity is our greatest weapon. 

COVID-19 Pandemic: April 15th Entry

This past Saturday I had the most fun I’ve probably had in a while.  My mixed martial arts instructors invited some of the higher ranking students (me included)  to do a sort of miniature parade for the younger students.  Thanks to my mother’s intense fears of leaving the household, this was the first time I stepped foot outside for longer than one hour since the beginning of quarantine.  Understandable, of course.  After all, we do have a 7 month year old baby (my sister) living in our home.  Anyhow, I was incredibly excited to see familiar faces that didn’t belong to my parents or my siblings.  I recall driving to my mixed martial arts school and pulling into the parking lot to find everyone outside decorating their cars.  The parade was to function as follows: we were going to decorate the cars with signs and positive messages and then proceed to drive to each of the students’ houses and showcase our art.  The process was meant for encouragement.  It had been a while now since my sensei had had the chance to see his students, and he wanted this event to signify that he hadn’t forgotten about anyone and truly missed them dearly.  We drove from house to house over a period of about 5 hours, honking our horns and yelling words of positivity as we passed.  With my entire family in the car and the music blasting, I finally felt like a human being again, and partaking in an event that I knew would bring happiness to others’ lives made it all the better.

My grandfather is out of the hospital as well.  We still have no clue if what he had was COVID-19, although we suspect it was.  As a result, my mother ordered him to self-quarantine for at least a week, so as to limit infection to my grandmother or anyone else.  We’re happy to have him back in healthy condition.  Now the only stressors I have are upcoming exams and assignments – and of course the possibility of remaining in quarantine for much longer than expected.  I have yet to find an article that actually predicts how much longer we will be in quarantine.  Some sources over social media claim we can be stuck in our houses for an additional 18 months!  I find that to be a little excessive, but perhaps not impossible.  Truly, the thought of being quarantined for that much time depresses me.  I want to have a summer – after all, this is the last summer I have off thanks to the biomedical program I am in.  I will try to stay as positive as possible, as I know there is much worse I could be dealing with.

COVID-19 Pandemic: April 22th Entry

1.

Read Kim Todd’s essay “Curiosity” from the course packet.

2.

Connect what you observed and learned at the MET Museum’s “Making Marvels” exhibition to what Todd is saying about the extent to which people will go to satisfy their curiosity.

3.

Explain how you have “chased an epistemic question that dilated your pupils, lit you on fire” during this period of imposed isolation/or at any time in your life. (quote is from Kim Todd)

I found Kim Todd’s essay “Curious”, to be incredibly interesting, for it highlights an aspect of my being that I have not paid much mind to in my 19 years of living.  Curiosity is a strange thing indeed, and while I pointed out in my Monday response that it is crucial towards success, I also understand what is discussed in this article: the idea that the actions prompted by curiosity have no extrinsic benefits.  Todd states in his essay, George Loewenstein, author of ‘The Psychology of Curiosity,’ summed it up: ‘The theoretical puzzle posed by curiosity is why people are so strongly attracted to information that, by the definition of curiosity, confers no extrinsic benefit.’ St. Augustine defined it is as ‘ocular lust,’ the desire to stare at an object, animal, or scene and let the mind roam” (Todd 2014).  This point is something I never truly thought about before – the fact that information is what one seeks when they are curious, and oftentimes obtaining said information holds no value for the individual.  Why am I curious to know what would happen in a fight between the strongest human and a lion?  After all, I do not plan on ever being near the presence of a lion, nor do I plan on meeting the world’s strongest human.  So what about this scenario do I find so interesting?  I was truly curious to find out.

Todd suggests in his essay that we are intrigued by aspects of life which violate expectations.  He discusses how the birthing process of the peculiar toad was unlike the birthing process of a typical toad.  Additionally, it was completely different from the birthing process of mammals (Todd, 2014).  This seems to suggest the idea that curiosity exists as a means of survival – we try to understand what we do not immediately understand so that we can be prepared for such an encounter in the wild.  Curiosity, as I discussed in my Monday response, is an innate drive in a human being, meaning we do not choose to have it, it’s simply always been there.  The more we understand, the less we are surprised by what nature throws our way.  The less we are surprised, the more we are prepared and the less danger we experience.  This is why I believe curiosity exists.  

Understanding this idea has made it evident to me why we are so intrigued by the many artifacts and works of art that museums contain.  Curiosity drives us to understand all that surrounds us, but why limit our knowledge to the current time period?  Wouldn’t understanding aspects of the past also be beneficial to our ability to thrive in the present?  When we see artifacts and paintings from thousands of years ago, we are curious because we want to know how our ancestors lived and functioned.  We want to hear the stories of the dangers they encountered and the manner by which they overcame their obstacles.  I truly believe this is why we find aspects of the past so incredibly interesting.       

I have been curious in my time under quarantine as well.  Aside from doing extensive research on the nature of the virus, I have decided to partake in other activities as well.  For example, a few days ago my siblings and I decided to undertake the challenge of cooking, something none of us never seemed to be interested in doing prior to the pandemic.

Pictured are my brother and sister.  Together, we decided to make teriyaki chicken!

COVID-19 Pandemic: April 29th Entry

1. Feature a recent and original photo (of your own) taken from a window inside your home, looking outsideInclude a caption.

2. Write a paragraph (at least) on what looking inward (i.e. personal reflection) during this period of “sheltering in place” has taught you about yourself.

3. Write a second paragraph about what reaching outward (listening, discussing, reading, researching) during this period of “sheltering in place” has taught you about the U.S. science community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imprisoned in my own home.

  1. This period of quarantine has taught me something about myself that I had previously been unaware of.  Prior to the pandemic, I was never one to go out excessively, whether that be to hang out with friends or to simply go to the park with my siblings.  I have always been very active, but never have I felt the need to always be outside and explore new places.  On the other hand, I would see others my age outdoors 24/7.  Every weekend, they were hanging out, and after school on weekdays, they were outdoors together.  I’ve always felt extreme comfort and even entertainment while being in my home.  Perhaps because I have a large family, and they help to create an environment that is rarely, if ever dull.  I figured that I simply wasn’t much of an outdoorsy person.  But this extended quarantine has shown me otherwise.  At the start, it was nothing novel.  Spending a lot of time in my house was what I was used to doing.  After just two weeks, I wanted out.  I wanted to explore, go outside, even just feel the breeze on my face.  I wanted to feel the sun on my skin and smell the scent of the plants and trees.  It wasn’t even just about being active…I really and truly just wanted to be outside.  So what did I learn?  I am indeed a creature of nature, not much different from a chimpanzee, or a lion, or an elephant.  I am meant to be one with nature, not stuck in a wooden construction where the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.  Yesterday I went to my backyard for the first time in a while.  I played some basketball with my brother.  At one point the ball went over the fence and I had to run across the street to get it.  Running after it, with the wind hitting my face, the sun shining on my body, and the smell of spring in the air – that may have just been the best experience I’ve had in awhile.
  2.  I was doing a lot of research on COVID-19 at the start of quarantine, not just because it is a current global issue, but also because the study of viruses is something I want to pursue in the future.  Unfortunately, after all these weeks in captivity, I have burned out my desire to research the illness that imprisoned me in the first place.  The only thing I do now is look to see when quarantine may end, and the answer to that question is always changing.  According to what I’ve read most recently, people finally seem to be learning their lesson.  More people are obeying the quarantine rules now than before, and because of that, the spread is slowing.  I think this public response is a result of understanding the sacrifice we must make as a whole so as to ensure we still have a future outdoors (where we belong).  As far as the scientific community goes, I believe that researchers are very quick to report bad news, but even quicker to report the positives.  In a time like this, that is exactly what we need – positivity.  One of the most recent articles I read stated that almost 15% of the population has antibodies which could potentially be used for cure research.  I will continue to do research on the matter.  I hope the results are positive.  

COVID-19 Pandemic: May 6th Entry

A return to campus, a return to traditional learning – the idea is almost bizarre.  Do I prefer distance learning? Not one bit, but there is no denying that I have become quite accustomed to it.  I notice that as a result of the current state of living, I have become increasingly lazy and easily distracted.  While in class or while working on an assignment, I often find myself daydreaming about things that have no relation to what I am involved with at the moment.  How would I feel about going back to campus? I’d absolutely love it.  I’d be ecstatic to see my friends, to interact with my professors, to receive an education in a traditional setting, and to simply be free.  However, it would certainly take some time transferring back to that lifestyle.  Going from months of a lack of structure back to structure would require an adjustment process that could impact my grades and my social life.  But of course, this is no-one’s fault.  It is also something that will happen inevitably.  The question is not if, but rather when it will occur.  My cousin attends John Jay in the city, and has been recently informed that his classes will continue to be online for the next semester.  John Jay is in fact a CUNY, as is CCNY.  There is obviously the possibility that we will not return to campus next semester.  I can only wonder how the near future will pan out.

Who is Robert E. Marshak?  He was an incredibly intelligent physicist who attended the City College of New York for one semester.  He was credited with discovering many of the fusion processes involved in the formation of stars.  CCNY now has a building on campus named after him.  A mural outside of this building could consist of the following words:

  1. LIMIT the spread
  2. ADAPT to the new world
  3. CURE the planet

(I am not very creative, but I tried my best).

COVID-19 Pandemic: May 13th Entry

It seems to me that disaster strikes when you least expect it.  What’s more – in the few occasions where disaster is expected, the universe throws a curveball.  In the year 2020, COVID-19 is that curveball.  Everyone expected 2020 to be an amazing year – a “scene” as most teenagers nowadays would put it.  However, the year began with some of the most influential celebrities on the planet passing away, such as the well known rapper, Juice World, and the globally respected athlete, Kobe Bryant.  The year progressed with wildfires raging in Australia, floods devastating Indonesia, a volcanic eruption shutting down a province in the Philippines, and earthquakes in Turkey and the Carribean.  To add on to that, global fears of a potential World War 3 rose as tension between the United States and foreign nations spiked.  Disaster was everywhere, and all over social media, users were posting how much of a let down 2020 was proving to be.  Many tried to make light of the situation by joking: “what’s next, aliens?”  

A few months into 2020, with disaster having plagued the world, we seemed to be adapting.  In my personal experience, I noticed people accepting the chaos and moving on with their lives.  People seemed to be prepared for future disasters.  As a matter of fact, everyone was practically expecting it.  The crazy thing is, it was almost as if the universe noticed this and said: “I’m going to throw a curveball” – and just like that, the novel coronavirus was born.  It began in China, but spread like a wildfire to practically every major country on the globe.  COVID-19 took the world by storm.  Suddenly, it was making every headline.  It was all people talked about.  People of all ages fell ill, and hospitals had to admit so many patients that ICU’s were overflowing.  No vaccine could be created quickly to counter the spread.  There was only one effective measure we had against the virus – staying away from it altogether.  Such began the “age of quarantine”, as I like to put it.  No-one expected it would last this long, but here I sit today, doing work for my online classes, trapped indoors for what seems to be the 100th day in a row.  At the start, there was certainly a level of excitement that I reached that was unparalleled, simply because I had never experienced something as serious as a pandemic.  Once the novelty wore off; however – and it wore off quickly – I wanted nothing more but to go outside and exercise free will.  

How was my pandemic experience?  The single word I used to describe it was “eye-opening”.  The experience was eye-opening because it showed me how much I take for granted on a daily basis.  Normally, I wouldn’t think of being able to go outside as a luxury.  I would never think of meeting with my friends as a luxury.  I would never think of seeing a professor face to face as a luxury, and yet – all of those things are luxuries indeed.  COVID-19 showed me that.  That is something I will have to appreciate for the rest of my life.  During my time in quarantine, I also learned a lot about the world.  I learned that the United States is not as prepared for disaster as it makes itself out to be.  I learned that the government’s slow response to a disaster can have extreme consequences.  On the positive side, I learned that society (for the most part) understands the sacrifices that need to be made to combat an issue of the sort.  

There is nothing I regret about going through the pandemic and the “age of quarantine”, but there is much that I regret about my life prior to.  COVID-19 is a horrible thing truly, but in more ways than one, it was also an incredible life lesson.  The age of quarantine has yet to end, but we will come out on top.  And once this is over, we will hopefully live life understanding that the things around us (the restaurants, the attractions, the people) are luxuries that should never be taken for granted.