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  • Getting Tested for COVID19

    Title pretty much says it all, but allow me to give a full rendition of events as they happened.

    Like most folks, I had been adjusting to the new lifestyle changes that came with quarantine and social distancing. I hadn’t travelled recently nor been around people that had, but for my own health and those around me, I decided to adapt to an indoor lifestyle.

    Which hasn’t been easy. As someone who loves hiking, biking, rollerblading, and the Great Outdoors in general, turning into a hermit overnight didn’t suit me. However, I (like many) understood this to be a time of sacrifice, and ventured outdoors as infrequently as possible.

    My cat was definitely curious as to why I wasn’t leaving the house any more

    Which is why, when I woke up with cold symptoms on the 9th of April, I was stumped. What the Hell? I could literally count on one hand how often I had been outdoors since 13th March, and only once had I come into proximity with other people at a local minimarket – and even then, only one customer was permitted inside at any given time.

    I had gone to bed the night before with a bit of a tickly throat, but assumed it was my allergies once again playing up, as they usually did this time of year. However, here I was the next day with worse symptoms, and going out of my mind with worry.

    Thank goodness for the Coronavirus helpline. It was 6AM, but somebody was still there at the end of the line to offer me medical guidance. And after heeding their advice and contacting my GP, it was decided that I should be tested. So, my details were taken, and an appointment for the test was scheduled for that same afternoon.

    I’d like to use this space to thank the people manning the helpline. They have always been extremely thorough and patient during what must be an absolutely crazy time for them. I’m particularly grateful that, towards the end of a call, I’ve always been asked “is there anything else I can help you with?” To have the clarity to ask that when they’re swamped is remarkable, and for that I am truly thankful.

    Giant thanks to those at the 111 helpline!

    Before I knew it, my appointment time was fast-approaching, and I made my way to the testing centre. I had been imagining queues and needing to keep myself distant from other people who might also be getting tested… so you can imagine my surprise when I got there and realised that I would not even be needing to leave my car.

    That’s right; a COVID19 testing centre, ‘drive-thru’-style! You’re shown where you need to go, and a doctor / nurse takes your particulars with which they’ll contact you with your results later on. I’d also like to note that every person there is totally gowned up – they’re obviously taking no chances. So, you give your details, and drive up to the next ‘station’ where the actual test takes place.

    About that test:

    Cotton bud, meet nose.

    The concept is pretty simple; a sample of mucus needs to be collected from your nose in order to be checked for traces of the virus. Which means, a cotton bud is inserted into your nose, wiggled around, taken out again, and off you go.

    In case you’re wondering, having a cotton bud put way into your nose isn’t the most relaxing of sensations. Uncomfortable? A little bit, yes. Painful? Nope. In all honesty, stubbing your toe against a piece of furniture is worse, and at the end of the day, I imagine 10 seconds of discomfort is a hell of a lot more comfortable than letting things get worse and potentially needing intubation. Look at the bigger picture.

    As quickly as it went in, out came the cotton bud again, and in less than 5 minutes I was driving back home. I needed to wait for around 48 hours, where I would then be notified of the results via phone or email.

    As I waited, I, like many people, noticed the news stories floating around at the time. A local doctor, exasperated at people not observing social distancing laws, remarked at the hypocrisy of following social trends aimed at keeping up spirits of struggling healthcare professionals… whilst at the same time, quite a number of people chose (and are still choosing) not to do the most helpful thing of all – namely, by staying indoors as often as possible.

    Is your trip to the beach really worth the extra strain to our healthcare system?

    I get it – we’re indoors most of the time, the weather outside is gorgeous, and we’re missing social interaction. Those emotions don’t indicate that you’re selfish; they imply that you’re human.

    In the midst of this crisis, I think many of us are getting too caught up in the moment, and thus forget that this situation is temporary. One day, we’ll all be able to stroll in the countryside, sit by the beach, organise picnics with our friends, and get back to our ‘normal’ routine. Right now, though, isn’t the time for that, plain and simple. It’s the time for sacrifice.

    This situation isn’t enjoyable for anybody. It’s certainly a hell of a lot less enjoyable for the medical personnel who trudge into hospital everyday, knowing full well that they’re constantly being exposed, as well as potentially exposing somebody else to the virus. They certainly don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sofa and binge-watching Netflix shows. And at the end of the day, they’re no more immune to this than us.

    So please, let’s all do them the simple favour of putting our ‘normal’ routine and events on hold for the time being, and give the people in direct contact with this virus the best help of all; less patients. They’d certainly thank us for that. When this is all over (and the less of us getting sick, the quicker it will be), we’ll have every opportunity to celebrate together again – probably with the same gusto I celebrated with when I saw a great whacking ‘negative’ test result a few days later.

    Stop looking at this situation as being ‘stuck at home’, and instead shift the perspective to ‘safe at home’. In the end, safety comes first – our own, our family’s, and everybody else’s. No one person is less susceptible to this than any other – the decisive factor of how quickly this passes is all up to you.

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