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We Will Get Through This Coronavirus Pandemic Together

We Will Get Through This Coronavirus Pandemic Together

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Guest Post by Dr. Jackie Fowler
Faculty Director and Associate Professor, School of Arts and Humanities, American Public University System

Dr. Jackie Fowler is the English Program Director for our School of Arts and Humanities at APUS. In this guest post, Jackie describes her personal experience with the coronavirus during the current pandemic. She also promotes the need for self-care and advocates the maintenance of social relationships.

In January, I went to sleep one night and woke up the next morning, unable to breathe. I was literally gasping for breath. I had a dry cough, no sense of smell, a throbbing headache, and a low-grade fever.

Yet I had no symptoms the day before: no cold, no cough, not even the sniffles. Although I’m more inclined to rely on over-the-counter medicine than going to a doctor’s office, I broke down a couple of hours into the morning and decided an emergency room trip was necessary, really necessary.

As I walked through the sliding glass doors, the nurse rushed to placed a mask on my face and surgical gloves on my hands. She isolated me in a room and asked me to cough into the crook of my arm.

Within minutes, I was on a machine that helped me breathe. Blood was pulled. Meds were given, and X-rays were taken as a series of nurses and doctors poured through my room. A few hours later, I was breathing a little better.

It took me weeks to recover. Every effort produced a bone-deep fatigue, and I found myself napping in 15- to 20-minute increments throughout the day. Although my lungs remain congested and I have a persistent dry cough, I have, it seems, beat the novel coronavirus.

Now, you might think I’d be happy to be one of those people who contracted the virus and survived. And I am.

But I was diagnosed as “COVID-19 presumed.” Because there was no ready supply of tests, doctors were unable to clearly and definitively diagnose me.

“You definitely had it,” the doctor pronounced, “but you still need to be careful because you were not tested.” My lungs are weak. Scarred. It worries my doctor. And me. Since there is no serum test to check for antibodies, I live in this weird, in-between “COVID-19 presumed” world.

In early January, Colorado saw a spike in unexplained pneumonia. It was an anomaly, the experts thought. However, when I returned to the doctor’s office in March with fatigue, rolling low-grade fevers, and a high, dry cough, I fit the pattern of others who had had pneumonia in January. I was reassessed as COVID-19 presumed and quarantined for 14 days, out of an abundance of caution.

Tracing has revealed two possible infection pathways for a woman who works from home and engages pretty sparingly with the outside world. My son studies in Paris at American University. He flew from Paris to Iceland to JFK to Denver for Christmas.

My daughter’s roommate and her husband’s roommate from college are Chinese. They both visited the epicenter of Wuhan in early December and returned to the U.S. with low-grade fevers. Both had dinner with my daughter and son-in-law, but their return to the U.S. would have been later than the onset of my illness. So it appears the culprit was my son’s flight through the U.S. epicenter in New York City.

Because of the reemergence of my symptoms in March, I now shelter in place without my husband, who lives and works outside of the United Arab Emirates’ most famous city, Dubai. And I made the heartbreaking decision to allow my son to shelter in place in his little Parisian apartment above a grocery store, just blocks from the Eiffel Tower. It was better for both of them not to return in early March (when they still could), because I was showing symptoms again.

I have been lucky. My COVID-19 odyssey was brutal but, compared to others, it was relatively mild.

However, I understand firsthand the loneliness of being quarantined during the current coronavirus pandemic. This is a time when we need to reach out to each other. Make a phone call. FaceTime with someone. Check in with the elderly (from a distance, of course). Call your mom, your siblings, a best friend, your neighbor. Send a text.

Take care of yourself by taking care of others. Wash your hands. Drink lots of water and get lots of rest. Take a walk. Sit in the sun. Make plans for a few months down the road, so you have something to look forward to, something that will sustain you. And know we will get through this coronavirus pandemic. Together.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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