I was hoping you all would be able to help me with my appeal for reinstatement. I transferred to EMU in January, and got very sick during my first semester. I was briefly hospitalized due to having contracted covid-19 and to this day (5 months later) am still feeling some of the effects. However in comparison to where I was 5 months ago, I am significantly better.
Unfortunately my academic performance suffered significantly during this time. I have to fill out an online appeal form. I am not sure if it should be in standard essay or letter form (meaning should I write it addressed to someone or not?).
Here is what I have written:
Your typed statement should explain why you have filed this request. It should describe circumstances that occurred in the semester being appealed and focus on what your plan of action is for moving forward in your academic career. Please describe your plan for getting back on track academically. Please include approximate dates in your statement. You must clearly explain the extenuating circumstances that 1) prevented you from being successful in the semester and/or 2) why you believe your condition warrants reinstatement to EMU. Such circumstances could involve, but not limited to, the following:
- Personal health issues
- Family medical/legal issues
- Personal legal issues
- Documented error by university personnel
I tested positive for Covid-19 on March 20, 2021. I had been feeling ill for a week leading up to the positive test result. My symptoms included fatigue, fever, body aches, loss of sense of smell, and shortness of breath. Before getting sick, I was training for a marathon and regularly ran 15+ miles. I could do intense physical activity for upwards of 6 hours and recover within minutes of taking a break. But when I got sick, I went from being this young, active person to someone who needed to take a nap after a 5 minute shower. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than 5 minutes without being extremely exhausted/out of breath. Any movement would cause intense body pain, to the point where standard over-the-counter acetaminophen dosages wouldn’t help. On day 3, I tried to take an exam for one of my classes, but could not finish on time as I struggled to stay awake for the allotted hour I had. My professor was understanding, and allowed me to do an extra credit assignment to make up for the questions I had not been able to answer.
I thought I was recovering by day 5, when the symptoms started to improve. By day 9, I thought I had finally recovered. Then on day 10, I started coughing. Not a lot, but out of precaution I decided to stay in isolation. And on day 12, things took a turn for the worse. I woke up early that morning to record the audio for a presentation that was due that afternoon. My professor was aware of the circumstances and allowed me to record my presentation rather than have to give it live via zoom. As I started recording, I realized I could barely speak for a minute without needing to take a break. But I pushed through. A 12 slide presentation ended up requiring 24 audio clips, each ~ 30 seconds. I submitted my presentation and immediately went back to sleep. But when I woke up a few hours later, I could feel my heart having multiple episodes of palpitations, for no reason. This made me realize something else was happening. So I called my cardiologist, who told me to get to the hospital. He was concerned that I had developed a blood clot. When I got to the emergency room, my oxygen was stable at rest. But then they had me walk a few minutes, and it dropped quite low on ambulation. A few hours and a dozen tests later, they determined I had developed bilateral pneumonia. My oxygen levels continued to drop, and so I was admitted. During my time there, they continued to monitor my oxygen levels, and I was briefly put on oxygen. But thankfully my lungs responded to the medication, and I was able to be taken off the oxygen and sent home a few days later.
For the 10 days after I was released, I remained in complete isolation at home, lacking the energy to do even the most basic of functions such as shower or use the restroom. My chest felt like there was a band wrapped tightly around it, and it hurt to breathe. For weeks, I struggled to move without feeling winded.
I wish I could say I have fully recovered from covid. It has been close to 5 months since I first tested positive, and to this day I am still dealing with a myriad of long term effects. The intense brain fog lasted approximately 4 months, during which time I would lose track of time and get disoriented walking around my own neighborhood. There would be periods of time in which I’d be sitting, staring off into space, completely unaware as to how many hours had passed. I am thankful that with time those tow symptoms have resolved, as my primary care doctor could not be bothered to order further testing and was adamant that all of that was “normal” post-covid. I also continue to have intermittent shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and body aches. The sad reality is there is still so much doctors don’t know about this virus. I’ve been advised to treat the symptoms as they come, and to seek emergency care only if my fever rises above 103 degrees Fahrenheit or my oxygen levels drop below the safe threshold. The shortness of breath happens sporadically, mainly in the evenings when I am exhausted. I’ll be seated at my desk, and out of nowhere I’ll start gasping for air. My oxygen level drops from 98% to 92%, but these episodes only last for 1-2 minutes. My doctor went ahead and ordered further evaluations, and I was eventually put on medication to help provide some relief.
But what affects me the most is the fatigue. It kills me, not being able to be as physically active as I once was. I have been able to return to exercise, albeit at 20% of the intensity/duration that it used to be. Most days, I’ll get 8-9 hours of sleep and still need to take a nap after 3 hours of being awake. I am a person who needs intense physical activity daily in order to be able to focus throughout the day. I am on medication for ADHD, which has helped immensely with that aspect, but it still not enough.
More recently, I have tested positive for Epstein Barr virus. I went into a local urgent care to get tested for strep, as swallowing had become increasingly painful. While there, they tested me for Streptococcus, Infectious Mononucleosis, and Epstein Barr. The rapid mono came back negative, but the blood test that was sent out came back positive for Epstein Barr, specifically long term antibodies. This test confirmed that I’ve been one of the unlucky few to have EBV before, and have it lay dormant in my body until it suddenly reactivated. It acts like an autoimmune disease, causing fever, swollen glands and tonsils, and peripheral neuropathy for weeks on end.
Despite all of this, I am grateful to be alive. Everyday I give thanks to my friends, family, and medical team, who have played a crucial role in supporting me throughout my recovery. I am not asking for you to take pity on me. No. What I am asking is that you consider all the hard work and energy that I’ve put into my recovery, and how things would’ve turned out if I had been able to use all of that on my school work instead. My health took priority these past two semesters, but now that I am on the mend, school comes first.
In order to succeed, there must be balance between health and academics. My plan for next semester does just that. I am currently in the process of finding a new primary care physician, one who will listen to my concerns and acknowledge them, and who is willing to help me find answers rather than dismiss those concerns. I will continue working with my therapist to develop concentration, relaxation, and communication skills. As an autistic woman who was diagnosed as an adult, it’s taken me years to learn how to properly advocate for myself, but over time I have made significant improvements in that aspect.
In terms of my academics, I will take full use of all the support resources EMU has to offer. The biggest thing I have trouble with is sticking to a consistent study routine. So in order to stay on track, I will set up weekly meetings with a peer Success Coach. We can come up with a study plan for each of my classes and I can be held accountable to someone other than myself to stay on track each week. So far, tutoring has not been offered for any of my courses, but I will continue to check the schedule in case it becomes available. If it does, I will attend at least one session per week, to use it as a guided study time and also to ask any questions I may have. I have trouble concentrating on my own, so I will organize or find study groups for each of my classes. Even if we just meet for an hour a day, it will significantly help me stay focused by being around others who are also working on the same material I am. I will also spend my afternoons studying in areas that are populated by others doing the same. Before I got sick, I found a few key study spots on campus where I could focus. These included the area by the dome in the Halle Library, the stairwell lounge in the student center, and the lounge across from the University Bookstore. I am not opposed to finding new study spots, but these three were my go-to places during my brief period on campus.
I will also make use of the Disability resource center, to get testing and in-class accommodations appropriate for my needs. While I am not sure if I can get accommodations for the post-covid symptoms at this point (due to the lack of support from my primary care doctor), I can get help for my other conditions: Autism, ADHD, and Anxiety. Accommodations include extended test time, alternate testing location, access to a written schedule for assignments (as well as any changes that are made throughout the semester), permission to audio record lectures, and access to peer notes from each class. I will also check-in with my DRC advisor and academic advisor every two weeks, to let them know how things are progressing and what I am struggling with at the time.
I have spent the better part of 5 months recovering from an illness that to this day continues to affect my life in one way or another. Compared to where I was back in March, I would say that I have made significant steps towards my recovery. With all of that now behind me, I can now switch my focus towards my academics, and put all my energy into being the best student and best EMU Eagle I can be.