VoK: Lauren Gadkari

Now%2C+while+most+people+are+suffering+from+the+inconveniences+of+the+stay-at-home+order%2C+Gadkari+said+she+has+much+to+worry+about+in+addition+to+social+distancing%3A+her+recently+diagnosed+immune+disorder+and+job+as+an+essential+worker.

Audrey Blaine

Now, while most people are suffering from the inconveniences of the stay-at-home order, Gadkari said she has much to worry about in addition to social distancing: her recently diagnosed immune disorder and job as an essential worker.

As news of the emerging COVID-19 virus began to surface late last year, Lauren Gadkari, sophomore, said she was skeptical of the dangers predicted for the following months. She said it was not until school cancelation in mid-march that she realized those predictions had become a frightening reality. Now, while most people are suffering from the inconveniences of the stay-at-home order, Gadkari said she has much to worry about in addition to social distancing: her recently diagnosed immune disorder and job as an essential worker.

In early March, Gadkari was diagnosed as immunocompromised after struggling with symptoms for several years. With the diagnosis confirming her immune system’s reduced ability to fight off infection, she said this realization could not have come at a worse time.

[Because my immune system is weaker,] I’m predisposed to being sick a lot,” Gadkari said. “It’s a scary thing for me knowing there is a pandemic floating around and that I’m more susceptible to getting it.”

It’s a scary thing for me knowing there is a pandemic floating around and that I’m more susceptible to getting it.”

— Lauren Gadkari

Due to her diagnosis, Gadkari said she has suffered from a few illnesses during this time of social distancing, but so far she has not contracted COVID-19. According to Gadkari, it is frightening when she does not know if her symptoms are from the coronavirus or just another illness.

“Sometimes I get symptoms, and I think I have corona,” Gadkari said. “I got the flu a few weeks ago, and I was sick for a week. I got scared because I thought I had corona, but luckily I didn’t… I don’t know what I would’ve done.” 

Gadkari said that she is specifically worried about getting infected because she also works a part-time job at Happy Dog Spot, which has been deemed an essential service during the stay-at-home order. She said her managers try to limit her shifts, but sometimes her help is required.

Even though it’s stressful sometimes, I like helping in any way I can, and know that the lives of people on the front lines are probably a lot more stressful than mine.”

— Lauren Gadkari

“Happy Dog Spot is a doggy day care, so other essential workers bring in their dogs and we take care of them until after their shift,” Gadkari said.  “Work is really scary sometimes because I interact with healthcare workers, so I have to wash my hands a lot and be very careful.”

With her weakened immune system, Gadkari said even handling essential workers’ dogs throughout the day can be dangerous for her. However, she said she feels most exposed while working drop-off and pick-up times, because that is when she works closest with the owners.

“My scariest moment was when my manager told me to take a dog out to a healthcare worker who was directly exposed to coronavirus,” Gadkari said. “I was very paranoid and I washed my hands [around] thirty times.”

With her job, schoolwork, family life and effort to stay sane during social distancing, Gadkari said she sometimes feels overwhelmed. But even with her unique conditions, she said she still enjoys contributing to society during this difficult time.

“Some days I just stay in my bed, but some days I have to do a lot and it’s pretty stressful,” Gadkari said. “But even though it’s stressful sometimes, I like helping in any way I can, and know that the lives of people on the front lines are probably a lot more stressful than mine.”