Opinion: Help protect immunocompromised classmates


Loyola students Bryan Grassia, Dominic Howell and Adrien Kays walk outside Biever Hall while wearing masks. Wearing masks in public spaces helps to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Photo credit: Kadalena Housley

Emma Trunkle

During my freshman year, I was in-and-out of the hospital a solid five times attempting to navigate our healthcare system in New Orleans as an 18-year-old with newfound independence. I got consistently conflicting diagnoses from doctors and struggled to navigate how to communicate with Student Affairs about my current condition. It was awful.

I didn’t know where to turn to for help but, thankfully, I had a wonderful group of friends that would volunteer to take me to the hospital and wait with me until we could figure out something to tell my parents. My professors were incredibly understanding and worked with me to figure out how to communicate with Academic Affairs to navigate all my absences.

From this whole ordeal, doctors finally told me I basically had a horrible immune system and suffered from multiple infections, which caused them to prescribe a lot of antibiotics that completely distorted my digestive system. I now shouldn’t even take oral antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

Two years later, I’m filled with similar anxiety and stress navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m horrified. I’m writing this after two separate doctors’ visits. I tested negative for COVID and all the typical tests associated with my symptoms of a cough, exhaustion, sore throat, and aches and pain. They told me I was having a very bad asthmatic episode, which I have never suffered from in my life. I truly hope that they are right, yet I constantly struggle with doctors listening to me and understanding that I know my body and my health. I’ve had asthma all my life and it’s never felt like this before––ever. This is a common trend with people struggling with autoimmune disorders, especially ones that are undiagnosed and younger.

The staff at the Student Health Center is absolutely wonderful. I called to try and figure out how to navigate my current illness and they not only worked with me to figure out how to communicate with Academic Affairs, but they were also deeply concerned and encouraged me to go my second time to the doctor to ensure I didn’t need more care, considering my underlying autoimmune problems and my asthma. It’s nice to know we have that support from the Student Health Center, especially in this time of immense stress.

However, this stress is also exacerbated by seeing so many of my peers participating in activities that fuel the spread of COVID. You may think COVID won’t affect you, but many of us struggle with underlying disorders or diseases that will cause you or your peer to be in the percentage of people that end up hospitalized. Remember that we are not untouchable by COVID. So next time you think about going out to a big party, think of me and the numerous other people you know that could be extremely harmed if they get COVID.