Interviewer: Evelyn Gonzalez (EG)
Interviewee: Shyanne Villeda (SV)
Date of Interview: 4-25-2021
EG: Hello, my name is Evelyn Gonzalez. And today I'll be interviewing you about your COVID experience here at East Carolina university. Do you give us permission to ask you these questions and to share this information with others?
SV: Yes, I give you permission.
EG: Alright. Thank you so much. So what is your name, your affiliation with this university? And since you are a student, can you tell us your year and major?
SV: I am Shyanne Villeda and I'm an ECU nursing student and I'll be graduating in May 2021.
EG: Alrighty, thank you so much. So how was this pandemic discussed or handled in classes and extracurriculars before the campus closed? Close? So, in other words, how did this arrival, was discussed in your other classes prior to the closure?
SV: Well, prior to closure and having our classes online, we were sent an email during spring break about our clinicals being moved to online and our labs as well. And prior to spring break, we had just finished a nursing course that was a seven-week course, and we were going to move on to another seven-week course after spring break. But all of that was moved online and, and we were notified with that through email and everything else discuss with, they told us that all the clinicals we're going to be online, except for those who were seniors, we're still going to be able to do clinicals in person.
EG: So, in regard to the closure and the emails, was it all confusing or was the nursing school very helpful throughout this process? Or how was that?
SV: Well ECU nursing school, their rules and everything were different, to the school in general. And they would always send a separate email because their policies were different for us, for instance, this year, students had first block and second block. And we didn't have that. We just had that whole 18 week course. And so our rules were different than everybody else's, but they were really helpful and they always kept us updated with everything that was going on with the school of nursing and ECU in general.
EG: What about your professors? Were your professors helpful or how were they in that regards or did it just depend?
SV: They were really helpful. It just really depends also on the person, for instance, I knew some people who always reached out to the professors and they always gave them advice on what to do. For instance, some people didn't have an access to a printer. And so, they gave them some advice on how to get a printer and stuff for example in the library, here at Pitt because, you know, the ECU library was closed or to find a friend to go print things because a lot of the nursing students like to print their notes and study that way. And so, by not having a printer at home that affected them a lot. So, our professors were really helpful and they understood that we were going through a hard time.
EG: That is understandable. I can understand that. Um, did you ever face any challenges with your professors or did you ever find any professors who you thought were hard on y'all due to the pandemic or
SV: No, all of them were really helpful. They knew for instance, taking tests online not everybody Wi-Fi was good and you know, not everybody has an access to internet, so they were really understandable with that.
EG: So, in regard to WIFI, or did you ever have any troubles with your internet taking tests online or any of that?
SV: Uh, yes. There were times where, it just wasn't working, and I had to take a test on here at home cause of covid. So, my crazy story is I had COVID this year prior to starting the school year in August, and I had an exam scheduled the week I had COVID. And, and so at that time we were starting to go back a little bit to normal, to take exams in person, but on our laptops. But since I had COVID, I had to take my test at home. And so luckily that day of the test, my WIFI was not working. And so I had to go take my exam outside of ECU campus using their WIFI. Obviously, I still had my mask on and did not go outside. I'd just stay in my car and take my tests there. Yeah.
EG: So how was that in regard to your space? And I know like sometimes just even having your car on was it distracting? You said this was in August, so was it hot outside? How was it having your car on or off in the parking lot?
SV: The thing I found really hard to take an exam, you know, parked outside in the parking lot, I find it really hard because um, people, you know, around my car and kept looking at me why is she taking a test in her car? And I just got distracted. So, I feel like it affected me also in my performance when I took the exam. Also, I wasn't feeling good, you know, having that circumstance where I had to take it over there at school, on the parking lot. And I don't know, it was just, hard.
EG: So, did you miss your time test period? Did your teacher give you an extra day or how did you communicate this information?
SV: Well, the exam was scheduled in the morning at 9:00 AM. And so, I turn on my computer, go to the exam since it's locked until that time. And so, since we usually took the tests in person, I had to take it through a webcam because obviously they don't want us cheating. And while I was getting the webcam started, it just, wouldn't let me, and I thought it was my laptop at first. And then I tried my mom's laptop, my sister's laptop. And it was just our WIFI in general. And actually, the next day we got an email from ECU and from our internet century link that they told us that they were having some problems with the internet. So, we found that out a day later.
EG: So, what did your professor say throughout this?
SV: So, the exam was scheduled at nine and when it wasn't working, I emailed my professor and told her about the situation, and she told me to call IT. And so, you know, she was proctoring during the exam and for the rest of the class in person. So, she, uh, she told me to call IT and I called, and we tried to get it to work out through the phone, which was actually really hard to, because he's not seeing what I'm saying. So having to describe everything I was seeing on my laptop. He had to tell me where to go. And he said it was just my internet connection, nothing he could do. So, after that, I called my professor again. And at that time I think the time for the exam was already gone. It was probably like 11:30 already.
SV: And so, then we finally ended up talking on the phone with my instructor and she told me, she gave me the idea of being in the parking lot at ECU. And so, she told me to make sure I wear gloves. I keep my mask on, just go to my car, go to the parking lot, take the exam and come straight back home and straight back to the room I was being quarantine. So that's how it happened. Like when I got to the ECU parking lot, she wanted me to call her and tell her I was ready. Cause she had to reopen the exam for me since it was already closed. So she had to reopen it for me. And she's just like, is it working really good? Cause you know, she wants it to work good. Cause she doesn't want same problem that happened. So that was that, and the crazy story during my exam.
SV: So, its gets crazier, while I was taking the exam at the parking lot, I don't know what happened, but it was something with my WIFI again. And I had to call her again and tell her about the situation, and we got it fixed and I took it again and I prayed that nothing else happen.
EG: What did your teacher say about this?
SV: So, she was monitoring me. She's like, okay, I see that you're on this question. So, I'm going to give you an extra 15 minutes, because I still had to fix the inner things that were going on. I had to figure it out on my own. And then once I got it fixed, she let me go back in and she added 15 minutes and I was already stressed about the exam and this situation made it more stressful. And I just hope this never happens again.
EG: I hope it doesn't. I know that it must be really hard, especially in August. I mean COVID, wasn't something new to us but it was impacting Greenville at that time in a high rate, if I'm not mistaken. With ECU students coming back. So, it was definitely a rough time, and also with school, and trying to cope with everything. It was a hard time for all of us.
SV: Yeah. It definitely was.
EG: So how did You do on that exam. So what did you end up getting on that exam?
SV: Well, on that exam, I ended up getting an 82. Which it's not as bad, but I just I never know if I could have done better if that would've never happened. I was already stressed and everything I was like, I'm just ready to get this over.
EG: I know with the COVID symptoms it must have been hard taking a test.
SV: Yes. I actually, I had a huge headache and I I remember I was sweating a lot that day.
EG: So how many days were you into COVID or how far along were you with COVID?
SV: I think I was only maybe halfway through my isolation.
EG: Oh Okay. So you were still going through it.
SV: I was still going through it. I was still there. I mean even studying for that exam. I, had a lot of fatigue and I just, I didn't want to study, but you know, I had to, I didn't have any motivation. And just knew that I needed to study for the test and it was hard to take the test.
EG: I definitely understand that as a student, we're always tired with so many classes, but I can only imagine with COVID symptoms. Could you tell us a little bit about how your COVID experience was and how do you believe contact it through or anything you would like to share?
SV: Well, I believe I contacted it by going to Fast Med with my mom. She wasn't feeling well, not like COVID related, it was just something else, personal issue. And I wanted to go with my mom, you know, she doesn't speak much English and I wanted to interpret for her and be there for her. And so, I went there with her and I believe that's where we got it. Cause there was a lot of people there and I remember they were doing COVID testing there, they didn't have seats separated really. You know, we would all sit beside each other. So yeah.
EG: Oh, that's crazy. I remember by that time seats were already separated.
SV: No, they weren't. You would expect at least every other seat, but no, we were literally sitting next to each other. I mean probably like two months later we went back and they did have the seats every other seat. But when we went that time, they didn't. And so that's why I think we got it from there.
EG: Do you remember being in contact or seeing a covid patient.
SV: Well, I mean both me and my mom got COVID both. My mom went to fast med and that's why we think we got it from there, but who knows where we could have gotten from, I mean, I could blame it on other people, but I don't know. And so for me I had like flu like symptoms, you know, I had a fever, I had diarrhea, I had body aches. I had chills headache, lost my sense of taste and smell. I didn't have any vomiting, but my mom, on the other hand, she had almost the same symptoms as me, without diarrhea, and loss of smell.
EG: So, were y'all quarantined together or?
SV: We were together in her room because our house is pretty small, and my room is all the way on the other end of the house. And we didn't think it was the best option because I have another sister, I have two siblings and my dad, and we felt that me and my mom being at the other side of the house is better to isolate from everybody else. Instead of having one COVID positive person on one side and the other one on the other side. So we thought that was the better option. But obviously me and my mom were not as close in the room, you know, we still stayed six feet apart.
EG: That's good to hear. I mean, I know it must have been tough on both of y'all, but at least y'all had each other there and it wasn't like a thing where you were by yourself. Cause I know a lot of people who have COVID or like even those who are in the hospital, they're all by themselves. So at least you had your mom there with you that must've been a big help and also motivating you to like study, do your homework.
SV: Yeah. Yeah. She was, if not I would have probably slept in my room, watch TV a week. And honestly it was nice to have my mom because for instance, I know my grandpa had COVID prior to when we had it and he was in a room where he had no TV, he doesn't have a cell phone and the room where he had it, had no windows. So he couldn't even look outside to see how they was. And so, you know, he was really like, if he was really bored, he had yeah. Like he was in jail. So yeah, he was, he said he was really bored and time went by so slow and he didn't know what to do.
EG: Yeah. I mean, cause you can only walk in your room for so long. Did he not have a TV in there or anything?
SV: Oh, no.
EG: So like not even a radio or a cell phone.
SV: I think my, my grandma ended up giving him a phone throughout the day it was the house phone. So he can, you know, call my mom and you know, my mom would call him so, you know, Oh, he could, he wouldn't be bored because I mean, being in your room for so long, it's tough. No. Yeah.
EG: I, I understand. I was isolated. have not gotten COVID but I was isolated, and it was boring. And even me as a student and I have my phone and a computer and at least some form of entertainment I was. I can definitely understand someone who has no TV and no window. Basically Nothing.
SV: Yeah. And yeah even having a TV or phone, I still get bored.
EG: Yeah, no that must've been really hard on him, but in your family, did your dad or any of your siblings get COVID?
SV: Um, luckily no they did get tested. My sister and dad got tested. She got tested negative and nobody tested positive. So that was a good part. And I mean, my brother, he stayed alone, you know, my dad was at work and it was hard for him to come and take care of my little brother. Luckily, I have family who helped, and they would drop off food and took care of my brother. He was all by himself doing his homework by himself.
EG: I lost connection. I did not hear anything you just said. The last part I heard was when I asked you how old he was, and you said nine.
SV: Okay. Well he's nine years old. And like I said, not only was it hard on us being quarantine in a room, but it was also hard on him. His grades actually went down really low when we had COVID. Cause he had nobody you know how little kids are, they don't like homework. So, if nobody's telling him to do his homework, he's not going to do his homework. And so, you know, you have like planning third BS and so he got catch up on a lot of comfort. It's probably like that he has to catch up.
EG: I am losing connection with you again.
SV: Yeah. I apologize for my connection.
EG: It's fine. I am pretty sure those who will be watching this will understand especially from your story about your tests. So it's fine.
SV: Um, we should probably continue the conversation.
EG: Oh Yeah. So you said that his grades went down from 15- 20s, thirties.
SV: Yes. He in some homework's he just chose not to study some and then some who were easy and I guess he thought he could do it on his own or I don't know what was going on in his mind, but yeah. But we helped him catch up.
EG: Oh, wow. Um, so you told me you're a nursing student and you said you had clinicals, how are your clinicals and homework like right now or in the past with online? How was that like?
SV: For instance, I took Peds clinical online and that's the clinical I was really looking forward to because all the clinicals that you have in nursing school are all adults. And so, it was really that one I was actually looking forward to. And so, I didn't get to do that, but I have PEDS clinical online. We have like this kind of case studies, things that we had to do in replace. And we were basically given a chart at the hospital. For instance, they gave me basically a medical record of a patient, it's typed up, telling me the information about the patient I was supposed to take care. And what happened and everything about the patient. I was just supposed to read that and do things like that and other case studies.
SV: Right? Never seen plan. I would have taken care of the patient and stuff like that come up with what would have I have done about where there answer questions and that was it for teams and for other clinical courses that I had to do, I had to do like shadow health, which is basically I have a patient online. I don't know if you've seen like on the internet about, you know, being a nurse online, just, you know, saying, hello, I'm trying, I'm your nurse today. Yeah. And then you have to assess your patient online, you know, give them meds and he gets to decide what to do next stuff like that. So that's was, that was my clinical experience online. And there's nothing similar to how it is in person.
EG: No. Yeah. I can definitely understand that. It's definitely been different in dealing with, um, patients. So now that the restrictions have leasen and have you seen a change or have you been able to go to the hospital or any of that ?
SV: Well this year school year, we have been able to go back to clinical and person and go to the hospital. And there are some hospitals that didn't accept nursing students. So like for instance, last semester I was supposed to go to this hospital, I forgot the city's name, but it was like heading almost towards Virginia. And they had to switch me to the hospital in Goldsboro, because they accepted nursing students, because the other one didn't want to have any students at that time. And so they had to switch to me, but now the rules are that nursing students aren't allowed to go off the floor. Like for instance, with our patients getting an x-ray or getting an echo or something, a procedure done, we can't go see it. We can't go off the floor. We have to just stay on the floor and just wait for them to come back. So that's one change that happen. We can take care of post COVID patients, but we can't take care of people who have it at the moment. And obviously we have to keep our mask on. We have to do a COVID symptom checker prior to going to clinical every time.
EG: Yeah, yeah. That must be tough. But did you ever encounter any COVID patients or I'm not sure if we can even disclose any of that information, you weren't allowed to touch any COVID patients?
SV: There has been some patients that I have seen but I am not allowed to go into those rooms. Oh. So like in the ICU
EG: And you're not allowed to go into the rooms?
SV: The COVID positive patients. But I take care of patients post COVID at the ICU.
EG: So, did that experience leave a mark on you or anything?
SV: Yes. It definitely has one story about a patient actually. And it's really sad. And she has inspired me as a nurse, and why I chose nursing. She's a 40-year patient and it was this semester at the ICU. And she had post COVID complications. She developed ARDS and it's basically like respiratory failure. Your lungs are basically not working anymore, it's not doing its job. And, she had two chest tubes. You know, she was intubated. She was being sedated and she had a feeding tube.
SV: So basically, she had a lot of tubes and she was not able to urinate on her own. And she had a lot of things going on other than COVID. She had diabetes, she had hypertension, she had so many other conditions which is probably why she was at high risk for COVID and for COVID complications. And so that day it was actually the only day I got to take care of her. And that day she, um, well, I, I was told that, you know, there's nothing else they could do. She was in poor condition.
SV: And so that day the nurse had decided to let her go outside and see her family. So I mean, her family would come up on the floor and see her, but she had a lot of family. And they decided to take her outside. And at first when we're going to go to her family outside, she started crying and I think she was just scared. She was nervous and scared because she started saying, well she couldn't speak, since she was intubated. But we could read her lips. And she was saying she didn't want to go anymore. And we told her, if she didn't want to go anymore she shake her head and said, no, but then we told her, she has been wanting to see her family.
SV: So basically, we comforted her, and she said she wanted to do it. She was just, really scared. And she was afraid that something was going to happen to her on her way down there. And so, the nurse prior to this had told her husband that only around 10 members could be outside for her. And so he understood that. And when we got there, when we took her outside there was like 40 people. I mean, there's nothing we could have said and be like, Oh, only 10 people, you know, you have to go. I mean, we understand that it's about time. And as long as everyone had their mask on, you know, obviously if it was my family member, I would want them to stay there and, you know. It was just hard because everybody was crying, the husband brought their dog.
And just hearing the dog howl and, cry for his owner really touched me. I mean his us, yeah. And the, the husband brought the dog down and took her near her. And so he, she could grab this Paul and that was really sad. And, and, you know, she has, she has three children and they're all our own model age. So if they just, that just felt like near to my mom's age. And like, it just felt like a similar kind of issue. Like I'm almost around her age. Um, I'm around the, her children's age and it just, it just, um, I just thought of that. And it's just seeing everybody cry and you know, her crying, the patient, having tears around all over her face, you know, everybody's trying to say bye. And then people were also came near me and thanked me for taking care of her. And they gave me a hug and it made me want to go. It made me want to cry, but I have had to be strong. And you know, it's not about me. It's about the patient.
SV: So after all that happened, we took her back to her room. And, you know, after connecting everything back, you know, her feeding tube and putting her back in the room, getting her situated, she started to cry. And we told her that she was really brave for what she did. And we told her, we were really proud of her that she was an inspiration to why we're doing what we do and why we got the vaccine. So that was that story. Really. I'm never going to forget that experience with her. And actually, a week later, when I came back to clinical, she had passed away probably like two days before, her family let her go.
EG: No. Yeah. And it must have been hard on the family. I can only imagine, if it was hard on you as a nurse, I can only imagine towards that family, or anyone who has lost a family member due to COVID
SV: Yeah. The nurse that she actually got said she was being really strong but towards the end of the shift, when we had to give a report to the nightshift, you could tell she really wanted to go to the bathroom and cry and just let it all out, because she was just really sad. And, you know, the family, requested her to be the nurse so the nurse got really close with her. So it's hard for everyone. It's hard for the patient. Also, she was going through a lot and you could tell that she was ready to go. She was already tired of feeling the way she was. I mean, you know, she was, she was intubated. So, you know, she wasn't able to control when she could use the bathroom. For example, every two hours if she had to use the bathroom we would have to clean her up but it was hard to do because she was in a lot of pain.
EG: No, I know that must be really hard on you and everything with COVID. I know it must be tough on everyone, especially as a nurse. I mean, y'all have been the backbone for COVID. Y'all have been definitely helping everyone out and helping save life's, you know? Yeah. I would like to say thank you so much for sharing this with us. Thank you for everything you do as a nurse. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us.
SV: You're welcome
EG: I wish you the best and you'll be graduating as well. So I wish you the best as you come towards the end of your school year and hope you keep saving patients.
SV: Yeah. Nursing is the work of heart. Thank you.
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