Senior Year Quarantine

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Lauralei Singsank
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As we all know, it’s been a strange year so far. COVID-19 has hit the United States hard, and Americans with chronic illnesses and those of an advanced age have faced the brunt of the pandemic’s wrath. For me, plans were disrupted and altered completely. I was supposed to spend the last couple weeks of March at a human rights conference in the UK, followed by several days in Boston for a College Diabetes Network conference. These events were cancelled, as was the last quarter of my senior year. I retreated home to Maui in March to quarantine my senior year away.

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"Unfortunately, the best laid plans can’t account for rising COVID-19 cases."

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Lauralei headshot
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Although extreme, my locale change had its perks. Firstly, I got to spend the kind of quality time with my parents and grandparents that I hadn’t thought I’d get again. I’ve been home for four months now, and am incredibly grateful to have spent this period with family. Secondly, I was able to improve my pickleball game, which I in turn passed on to my boyfriend (who was lucky enough to quarantine with me in Hawaii, rather than our cramped apartment back in Oregon). Thirdly, and most important during a pandemic, I was closer to my healthcare provider. I’d had issues getting insulin in Oregon, and typically resorted to getting vacation supplies while home to tide me over. Being home on Maui meant that I had more secure access to healthcare than I’ve had in years. I was able to schedule an appointment to get my A1c checked within a week, something that typically took me months to arrange. I was also able to live without the worry of getting hospitalized without coverage. Although this fear was exacerbated by COVID-19, it was paradoxically diminished by my retreat home.

I finished up my senior year from the comfort of my dining room table. I took the LSAT at that table, insulin pump and test kit placed carefully at my side. It was at this same table that I worked out the details of my job for next year--I’ll be serving for AmeriCorps as a college counselor for high school students. Depending on the day, this monotony could be interpreted as a blessing or as a curse.

One thing I’m grateful for daily is the safety that Hawaii has provided for me. Maui has been facing 0-3 new cases of COVID-19 each day, which has allowed me to live with minimal levels of paranoia. Those with T1D know we’re at higher risk if we get infected, so living in a place where this risk is low has been a blessing. What scares me is my impending return to Oregon. My job starts in August, in Portland. I’m already renting a house there, and have my plans all squared away. Unfortunately, the best laid plans can’t account for rising COVID-19 cases. I’ve postponed returning twice now due to fears about infection. What saddens me the most is the possibility that this might well be my reality for the next year. There’s a chance that we won’t get this virus under control, and people with T1D will bear the burden of risk and worry. This possibility seems more like reality with each passing day.

 

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"I don’t know where exactly I’ll be in three weeks, or in three months, or next year; wherever I am, I hope I’m putting some positive back into the murky times we’re wading through."

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Despite this, there’s hope. I’ve worked to help those around me understand the severity of the pandemic by explaining its possible repercussions for my health. There’s an inner circle of people that I know better understand the gravitas of this moment because of my explanations. It’s this personal influence we can have on the people around us that makes me optimistic about our future. I don’t know where exactly I’ll be in three weeks, or in three months, or next year; wherever I am, I hope I’m putting some positive back into the murky times we’re wading through.

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Lauralei Singsank is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon. During her time at UO, she was president of Ducks With Diabetes, the school's CDN chapter. Lauralei graduated out of the Clark Honors College with degrees in music and political science and a minor in peace studies. During her final term, Lauralei lived at home on Maui and spent her free time feeding her guinea pigs and playing pickleball. She'll be going to law school next year.