Am I Anxious or Do I Have COVID-19?

This quarantine season has taught me that I am a much more paranoid and anxious person over very trivial matters than I believed myself to be. As of recent, the weather in Berkeley has been warm and dry and I have been forced to stay inside my apartment, which has the oldest carpet a living being has ever seen, due to quarantine. I am allergic to dust (thanks Dad) and so if a room is dusty, I will cough and my throat will be very irritated. I am also sensitive to dry air, which will also cause me to cough and my throat to be very irritated. Logically, my coughing is due to the perfect combination of dry air and dust floating around the room. However, my illogical and paranoid brain led me to believe that I had COVID-19: “Were there COVID germs on my boba straw? It had to be the boba straw.” I warned my housemates that the dry air and dust could be the culprit but I could not convince myself. So, in a state of panic, I called the 24-hour advice nurse. 

I called at 1 am, where I am obviously in my best state of mind. The nurse listened to my panic and reassured me that everything seems to be fine. But, just to make sure, I should make an appointment with the Tang Center. So, I made an appointment with the Tang Center to meet with a doctor to discuss my symptoms. The very nice doctor met with me, listened to me explain in a very panicked manner that I thought I was dying, and listened to my lungs. She smiled warmly and told me that everything sounded perfectly fine. She said that people are sensitive to dry air and dust, so it’s perfectly understandable that I am coughing. Feeling relieved, I went home. But I was still nervous and I made an appointment with the Tang Center to get tested for COVID anyways. The test came back negative. I explained this story to my Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) before class and she said she did the exact same thing: “I ask myself ‘Am I Anxious, or do I have COVID?’ ” and I immediately felt validated. 

My GSI’s hilarious question made me realize that though I was absolutely in a state of panic for a few days, the University Health Center had all the resources to reassure me and confirm that I was perfectly fine at every step of the way. The 24-hour advice line was a resource I did not know about and learned how useful the tool is. These nurses are on the other side 24 hours a day to make sure that every students’ concerns, whether it’s at 11 am or 3 am, is met. Next, the doctor I met with at the Tang Center was fully geared up from head to toe with personal protective equipment, which indicated potential risk with meeting so many people a day. Despite the risk, they are here to help keep the UC Berkeley community safe — they wear the gear to protect themselves but choose this job to protect us students. Lastly, University Health Services has implemented asymptomatic free testing for all students on campus to ensure that each student can safely get tested for their sakes and the community’s sakes. I realized that the university made all the resources available for the students and faculty to keep us safe. Cal prioritizes students’ safety above anything else and I feel safe on campus knowing this.