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Professor survives to tell coronavirus story

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Charles Green
Staff Writer

When University of La Verne adjunct communications professor Scott Essman woke up on March 9, he thought he was in for a normal day as a professor. Little did he know he was about to start a battle fighting the virus that has wreaked havoc across the globe.

Essman was showing his film history students at Santiago Canyon College, in Anaheim Hills, the movie “The Searchers” when he started experiencing coronavirus symptoms out of nowhere.

“All of a sudden I started to feel terrible, body aches, dizziness, disorientation, lethargy, it felt like you were trying to move through mud, and I could tell I had a fever, and it all hit me. Boom, at one time,” Essman said.

Essman quickly returned home but then spent the next day, March 10, in urgent care on an IV. He was given steroids and antibiotics and returned home to isolation where he continued to experience symptoms and struggled to sleep for the rest of the week.

On March 16, Essman returned to his doctor, complaining about the medication not working. Even with the trouble breathing and frequent coughing, doctors still thought Essman just had a bad case of the flu. Doctors gave Essman an inhaler which helped with his breathing trouble, but he wasn’t tested for  the coronavirus until March 19.

Nine days later, on March 28, Essman’s test came back positive for Covid-19. By this point, Essman’s worst days were behind him, but it was not until he was prescribed the medication Singulair that he started to see improvement in his health.

“Within 24 hours I was feeling better and on April 1,  I was pretty much out of the woods,” Essman said.

Singulair is a leukotriene receptor antagonist drug used in the treatment of asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Essman found his experience extremely challenging knowing there wasn’t anything he could do to try improving his health. He could only lie in bed and try to see the virus through.

Thankfully Essman has made a full recovery from his battle with coronavirus and last used his inhaler to help him breathing back in mid-April.

Even though some reports find the chance of death after being infected are between 0.5% and 1%, Essman said he was constantly was questioning whether he was going to be able to make a successful recovery.

“It was really sad. I was crying almost every night thinking, ‘this is it, I’m not going to make it’,” Essman said.

Essman said he is thankful for the huge amount of support that he received from friends and family when he was isolated at home tackling the virus. He had peers bringing food, cooking and bringing medical supplies constantly, and had colleagues from ULV calling frequently to check up on him.

One bit of small fortune to come out of this situation for Essman was that he was sick over ULV’s spring break, so he did not miss too many lectures. Essman said it would have been impossible to even teach online when he was experiencing his worst symptoms because he could not read or look at a computer.

Paulina Wartman, a senior broadcast journalism major, who has had classes with Essman over her four years at ULV was shaken when she heard the news of Essman fighting the virus.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Wartman said. “You see this stuff on the news and you read these articles, but it almost feels like it can’t happen to you, but when someone you know gets affected, it wakes you up and you really take it to heart, it’s just awful.”

Another senior, ULV TV broadcast  major, Ashley Kate Sayas, said hearing the news of Essman having coronavirus was very upsetting and she was also worried about the possibility of the virus spreading on campus.

“I was shocked, and I was worried that if he’d been on campus, maybe some people would have had contact with him,” Sayas said.

Essman, of course, can not pinpoint the exact moment when he came in contact with the virus, but he believes there is a good chance he caught it at the USC vs UCLA basketball game on March 7.

“Two days before I got sick, I was at a basketball game with 9,000, maybe I got it there but it’s so hard to say, that virus incubates for a period so I could have had it for a few weeks,” Essman said.

Essman is now back to teaching classes remotely at ULV and said he feels very fortunate to have made a full recovery. He urges everyone to take coronavirus extremely seriously and advises people not to wait as long as he did to be tested when experiencing symptoms.

“You want to get treated immediately if you think you might have this. Don’t wait, and just think it’s the flu or something, get checked, and get tested,” Essman said.

Charles Green can be reached at charles.green@laverne.edu.

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