When I first found out that I had to isolate in Kenwood, I felt like I was being sent into exile. One unexpected positive COVID-19 test made me feel like an outcast.

It felt like I was one of the people on campus that no one wanted to deal with and, although things were out of my control, I was embarrassed.

The first couple days in isolation were the worst for me, personally, as I dealt with every symptom imaginable. 

For three or four days, the thermometer showed that I had a 101°F fever. I couldn’t taste or smell, I was constantly coughing, my muscles ached, fatigue took over, the headaches were nonstop, I had the chills and I sweated profusely when I slept. 

But after those rough days were behind me, things got a lot better. 

In order to pass time, all five of us in isolation would socially distance ourselves in the Kenwood kitchen and play games of all sorts. 

Oftentimes, our competitive spirits would come out and things got heated. This was one of the few times where I could actually get my mind off of other things such as COVID-19, schoolwork and soccer. 

Especially when it came to soccer, I felt useless. I wanted to help the team and be there, but I couldn’t be, no matter what I did. 

I felt incredibly disconnected from everything on campus whether that be schoolwork or just seeing my friends every day.

The dining hall would send us food, which was a nice gesture, but I didn’t really care because I couldn’t taste anything. It was the same way with the other food that was sent to us by other people. I wanted to enjoy eating, but I couldn’t.

Before testing positive for COVID-19, I took the ability to taste and smell for granted, and I’ll never make that mistake again.

Extra spicy, sweet, salty or sour foods did grab my attention, though. They were the only things that I could remotely taste at all. Everything else tasted like straight-up nothing. 

The only reason I was eating at this point was because I was hungry and I knew if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have energy to recover. 

It was the same with liquids as well. I was drinking so much water and the other things I drank, like Gatorade, V8, Propel and Sprite, all tasted the same. 

The loss of taste and smell is by far the worst symptom of COVID-19. I am still dealing with it. 

The doctor who cleared me said it could take a couple weeks or up to a month to come back, and when it comes back, my taste could be distorted for a while. 

Even though I don’t have COVID-19 anymore, I am still dealing with the side effects. Now that I’m back on campus, I do feel a bit different. 

I feel like I’m “that guy who had COVID-19,” and I feel like the other guys in my group can relate to this. 

I didn’t expect any of this to happen.

Before testing positive, I was aware of the severity of the coronavirus, but I didn’t really put much thought into what would happen if I were to actually get it. I honestly forgot about COVID-19 half the time.

As soon as I started showing symptoms, I thought to myself, “Oh, crap, this is actually happening.”

Now that I have dealt with it and have felt the full effects of COVID-19, I can safely say that it was awful. I never want to experience this again, and I wouldn’t wish this virus on my worst enemy. 

Now, I am a bit more careful about being around people that I’m not normally in contact with, like the guys on the soccer team and my housemates. 

COVID-19 is real, it is serious, and I don’t want to have to go through that again.

But there was a positive to all of this. 

When my children ask about 2020 and how the world went into a downward spiral, I can tell them that I bravely dealt with COVID-19 and definitely didn’t just lie in bed like a corpse.