September 18, 2020

‘Reminder that this virus has affected everyone’

On a Saturday evening, Northampton Community College political science professor, Samuel Chen, checked into the ER. The following Sunday, he was tested positive for the Coronavirus. 

“I was actually exhibiting stroke-like symptoms,” said Chen, “a rising fever, chills, an abnormally high blood pressure, and the worst headache I have yet experienced.” 

Chen was admitted into the hospital after his vitals were unable to be stabilized in the ER. Three days later, he was discharged and put in at-home isolation. The doctors prescribed medication for his vitals to stay stable and recommended he get as much rest as possible. 

This is mostly because the virus caused fatigue and shortness of breath with everyday activities, said Chen. It made a huge impact on his heart rate and blood pressure making him cut back on his salt and caffeine intake. 

In order to be cleared to leave isolation, anyone with the virus must go three consecutive days without showing any symptoms, according to Chen. “I didn’t reach that point until day 35,” he said. It was several weeks before his health improved and his symptoms lessened, however, his biggest challenge is rebuilding his lung capacity.  

Chen said, “COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, and in addition, I suffered a partial collapse in my right lung.” Even though everyday activities continue to wear him down, he is feeling much better and his health continues to improve daily. 

However, the virus did not just affect him physically as an individual, but also as a professor. Chen said that as much as the switch to online learning during quarantine was frustrating for both students and faculty, it was “a blessing in disguise for me.” 

This worked in his favor because as he recovers, he’s been able to adjust his schedule considerably by spacing out lectures, live classes, and student meetings depending on the state of his health each day. This would have worked much differently had he still been on campus whereas he would have to cancel some of these events. 

“It’s been a worthy reminder that this virus has affected everyone, not just those of us who contracted it,” Chen said. “As such, I’ve been very grateful for the understanding of our deans and the patience of my students.” 

A few things Chen would like students and faculty to take seriously are washing their hands. “Even if you’re wearing a mask or gloves, washing your hands consistently, remains one of our safeguards,” he said. “It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to teach us to wash our hands.”

He encourages everyone who is feeling sick or showing symptoms to consult a doctor because everyone experiences the virus differently. Some may not have the same symptoms or recovery time, he said, and relying on stories from friends or the internet is the last thing anyone should do. 

Lastly, he said, “Show a little grace to those around us.” 

This pandemic has impacted everyone. With people losing family members, suffering, and having no choice but to stay at home while also face the loss of businesses, life savings, and the effect on their mental health, it’s only right for everyone to show compassion and empathy. 

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