Miriam Chamberlain was starting to get better from her battle with COVID-19, but then she fell into what her doctors called a relapse of her symptoms.
The K-State senior in journalism had been on a study abroad trip to London over spring break with several classmates as well as professor Andrew Smith. But when the group returned to Manhattan, Chamberlain began to suspect that her fatigue wasn’t just jet lag.
Chamberlain and the other students took the threat of having been infected seriously, and they quarantined themselves for two weeks. When Smith was hospitalized and confirmed to have the virus on March 20, though, Chamberlain said it became much clearer that they, too, were likely infected.
And as her symptoms got worse, a positive coronavirus test verified on March 31 only confirmed Chamberlain’s assumption that she was infected. She was in daily contact with health officials, and toward the end of her 14-day quarantine period, her symptoms actually got “about ten times worse,” and she spent last Sunday in the emergency room.
Now back in her apartment in a second round of quarantine, Chamberlain says she’s focused on getting better, with her dog, Denver, by her side. She said while she hasn’t seen any “major recovery,” her symptoms have slowly subsided day by day.
“I didn’t think I’d be sick this long,” she said. “Since (being in the ER), I’ve been trying to get my strength back. It’s exhausting trying to fight this virus.”
She’s still doing classwork, now that classes are online, although her professors and classmates have been supporting her and giving her a bit of slack as she slowly recovers.
Originally from the Chicago area, Chamberlain said she chose to come back to Manhattan after the trip to avoid infecting any of her family in Chicago. Her mother and grandmother wanted to fly down from Chicago to be with her, but Chamberlain joked that her father was able to “put some sense into them.”
For now, Chamberlain makes do with regular group video sessions while her family tries to do as much for her as they can from hundreds of miles away. She likely won’t see them in person for another few months, since she doesn’t want to risk reinfecting herself or her family while the coronavirus situation remains volatile.
Locally, friends have stepped up to make sure Chamberlain has what she needs, and she said her journalism professor Tom Hallaq and others worked to bring her groceries and other personal items.
“A big group of them came together and brought a bunch of stuff, and I couldn’t really tell them no,” she joked. “I haven’t really had much of an appetite these past couple of weeks, but they wanted me to have a stocked fridge, and they brought me things like coloring books, so I could stay active.”
The senior said she’s looking to stay on track in her courses, so she can graduate in May and not have to stay an extra semester, although she is planning on returning in December for fall commencement, since K-State is allowing spring graduates to walk at those ceremonies.
Chamberlain said she was grateful for the way others in the community have rallied around her, with friends and other connections all over the state reaching out to check on her.
“I’m alive still,” she said. “I’m surviving. I know how much everyone misses being around everybody, and I won’t take that for granted.
“I’m not from here — I transferred (to K-State) just two years ago,” she said. “It’s nice to be a part of that K-State family and that Kansas family, as well as that support back home. I just want people to stay safe and wash your hands.”