I Got Tested for COVID-19 — Here’s What It Was Like
I started coughing last week. Really coughing. The kind that hurts your ribs after a while, and wakes you up during the night. It’s the kind of cough that makes people move away from you in public as they whisper behind their hands.
I had flown to another province for my mum’s 70th birthday celebrations, and during my holiday I could feel the cough getting worse. I donned my mask in public to avoid coughing on anyone, and also to prevent catching anything else that may be floating around.
I saw people in the airports doing double takes at my Vogmask. The experience provoked memories of similar judgment from when I wore it following my intense chemotherapy. My “neighbor” on the plane sat down next to me, buckled his seat belt, and cleared his throat. “Um, do you know that your ‘mask’ will do nothing to prevent you against coronavirus? It will only kill the elderly anyway. You just need to wash your hands.” I smiled to myself — not that he could see it — and explained that I have an autoimmune condition as well as a nasty cough that I didn’t want to pass on.
Cleaning my hands is a regular part of my schedule, and has been since my diagnosis in 2004. I’ve had to take extra precautions every day of my life since then. I chuckle while watching the public going to extremes of sanitation now that they have a similar concern over catching a virus their body won’t cope with. Yet, I’m also terrified that this paranoia is our reality.
Back to the cough …
I woke up with a fever and out of breath. My cough sounded like that of a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. When I called my primary care practitioner, she advised that I go straight to the emergency room as I couldn’t risk infecting anyone else.
The doctor at the emergency room ordered blood tests and chest X-rays for me. He also confirmed what I’d dreaded since the cough emerged: I had to be tested for COVID-19.
He inserted the swab into my nostril, penetrating so deeply that it felt like he was tickling my brain.
Take it out. Seal it. Next swab. Tonsil, tonsil, back of throat. (Try not to gag, Megan!) Take it out. Seal it. Mark them. Done.
My testing kits took 48 hours to produce results. During the wait, I kept thinking back to the list of names I had to give to the hospital: those I’d had contact with over the previous two weeks, as well as their phone numbers and ages. Had I potentially infected all of them? Would I be able to live with myself if their results came back positive?
The doctor called me yesterday and, thankfully, said my results came back negative. I have a severe case of bronchitis, and my lungs are already under a large amount of stress due to the damage from the pneumocystis pneumonia I had in January 2018.
The COVID-19 scare was just that — a scare. The fright was a huge wake-up call about the importance of self-isolating, as well as the need to take care of myself.
It could happen to anyone, even the young and healthy. It doesn’t “only” happen to some.
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