Life In Isolation

What I learned when my mom got the Coronavirus

Mollie Banstetter, Layout Editor

Photo provided by Mollie Banstetter
My mom and I while visiting New York in December of 2019

On the morning of Saturday, April 11, I woke up to a call from my mom. My mom told me that she had come into contact with a coworker who tested positive. She and I went through the list of symptoms, checking off most of the boxes.

Because I was in contact with my mom within the past few days I got an email from the Health Department telling me what my next 14 days were going to look like. So far it has been filled with symptom and temperature checking, complete isolation and a lot of “my condolences” texts from family members.

The email told me that I needed to quarantine myself, which luckily for me I could do safely at my dad’s house. However, I now wouldn’t get to see my mom for at least 14 days. She was scheduled to get the COVID-19 test on Monday, April 13. Until then, we crossed our fingers.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 14th, my mom called me with the news. She started off by letting me know I was going to get another email from the Health Department, and then she paused before continuing on to what I knew was going to be said. She let me know that she had tested positive for COVID-19. While my heart sank, a part of me was relieved because at least we knew what it was and knew what to expect.

Tuesday was my fourth day of quarantine, I hadn’t physically seen anyone other than my dad, who I only get to see when he cracks my door open to ask me how I am. At first, being quarantined didn’t sound so bad to me, how hard could staying in your room for 14 days be? Turns out, it’s pretty hard. I already miss being able to play with my little brothers and annoying my sister by barging into her room. I miss fresh air and I miss playing fetch with my two dogs. I miss being able to get things on my own and not rely on everyone to bring them to my door. The only other place I can go is my bathroom, which believe it or not, isn’t the most exciting change of scenery. 

While I am stuck in my room at my dad’s house, my mom is at her house battling this mysterious virus. This virus is much more than the flu or a bug, even though my mom is healthy it has, in her words, “brought me to my knees.” My mom is the Human Resources manager for a food production company. One of the most frustrating things from this situation is that the company was listed as essential, which meant that she still had to go into work.

“As HR manager, I had to help people navigate this and settle anxieties, but who’s helping me navigate this and settle my anxiety?” my mom, Dina Banstetter, said. “Food manufacturing is deemed ‘essential’, I took my leadership role very personally, but then ended up being one of four members of the leadership team that tested positive. We took measures to try and stay safe but in the end, it wasn’t enough.” 

With more and more people contracting the virus we are hearing a lot of stories, but the experience is different for everyone who has it.

“It started out with chills and just feeling ‘off’. For me it doesn’t get better or worse at one time of the day. It’s a lot of ups and downs of feeling feverish and fatigued. You have to be able to ask  for help, and for somebody who’s independent that’s not always easy, even though friends and family have asked ‘what can I do?’” Banstetter said. 

Until now, the threat of the coronavirus seemed real, but not impending. But now that it’s staring me in the face, I’ve started to understand. I live a life slightly closer to the center of this crisis. And though I’m definitely not suffering in a way that’s comparable to the devastation others are facing right now, it’s still an inner-battle. I want to physically be there to comfort my mom; but instead, I have to support her through video calls and text messages. I know it’s not safe to be with her, but the knowledge of what could happen makes my body ache to rush to her side.