I took a COVID-19 test on Sunday, and was notified today that it came back negative. I’m free of the coronavirus — for now, anyway.
For my tech writing job, I took a tour of a wastewater treatment plant last Thursday. Most of the tour was outside, and both my guide and I had been vaccinated.
About 24 hours later, my throat began feeling sore. My sinuses began congesting a few hours later. When I woke up the following morning, I had a headache in addition to the earlier symptoms.
No fever, no muscle or joint aches, no swelling. None of the notorious COVID symptoms — the toasted English muffin covered in blueberry jam smelled wonderful and tasted even better. Eighteen months ago, I would’ve resigned myself to battling a nasty cold for the next few days.
But… didn’t I meet other plant workers during that tour? didn’t I talk to some of them? didn’t some of those conversations take place indoors? I hadn’t asked whether other workers at the plant had been vaccinated. And I hadn’t always remembered to put my mask back on when we entered a building after being outside.
All minor faults. But too many for this anxious time.
Many pharmacies and other sites in our area offer COVID testing. Not paying for the test takes a little creativity, though.
I didn’t find any walk-in testing sites, of the here I am come stick a swab up my nose variety. The tests I found required online registration, along with a series of questions to determine if I was eligible for free testing. Ordered by your employer or doctor to be tested? Been in contact with someone with a confirmed COVID infection? Severe symptoms (fever, diarrhea, loss of smell or taste)? Upcoming plane trip to destination requiring a negative test? I chose the three symptoms I exhibited, all under the “Minor Symptoms” category, and after clicking Next found out that I could schedule a COVID test — for a fee of $125.
So I hit the Back button, selected every check box under “Minor Symptoms,” and clicked Next again. Free test!
After the scheduling screen showed no available appointments for the next four days, I registered on another site, selecting all symptoms that wouldn’t generate additional questions — so who is that person with the confirmed infection? The scheduling tab showed one appointment available Sunday afternoon. Haven’t clicked an icon that quickly.
As instructed, I entered the pharmacies drive-up window ten minutes before the appointment time. After giving my name and date of birth (without being asked for identification or insurance card), the pharmacist behind the large window printed my paperwork and inserted it into a baggie with the testing supplies. She then pushed the baggie out to me, and walked me through the test:
- Rip open the disinfecting wipe and clean my hands
- Open the swab
- Insert into one nostril, swirl around, hold for fifteen seconds
- Repeat for the other nostril
- Open the sample tube without spilling the contents
- Insert the swab and break it at the perforation
- Close the sample tube and put it in the baggie
- Close the baggie and place it in the deposit box at the end of the drive-thru
- Have a nice day
Taking the test on a Sunday afternoon before a national holiday delayed the testing results — instead of one to two days, it was three. But just as my irritation began approaching an unhealthy level, I got the email confirming my hypothesis.
Inhaling the fumes at the wastewater plant likely overloaded my sinuses. Mowing the lawn after coming home that afternoon probably didn’t help.
Could I be more diligent with masking? Certainly. Should I be bothered at exaggerating my symptoms to qualify for a free test? Please.
At some point in the future, I’m going to get COVID or one of its cousins. This virus and its mutations is too contagious, this country’s commitment to public health is too effed-up to contain it, and I’m not perfect.
But I don’t have it today, and that’s going to have to be good enough for now.