Isolation Staycation: Think positive, test negative!

April 9

It has been years since I slept in a bed by myself, since I last awoke without another body next to mine. It has only been two days, but it is so strange to sleep in my brother’s bed, alone, with neither husband nor son snoring beside me. I know it’s a small price to pay for the chance to protect my family from the mere possibility of COVID. 

As of this writing, my sore throat is mostly gone, and I no longer have sniffles. I still have an occasional headache, but I suspect that’s due to eyestrain. I’m still monitoring my symptoms, but all in all I feel significantly better.

Proof of life

This morning, we got tested. It was the first time any of us had ever gotten an RT-PCR test, and, wow, that was not fun. In fact, the entire effort that went into getting this appointment for home service testing was not fun. We found all these labs offering testing services, some with home service, others offering drive-thru or on-site only, with prices varying depending on the preferred processing time. I made a spreadsheet listing prices, services, contact information and other details, just so we could figure out which one was the most cost-effective. This also made it easier for us to contact them and figure out which one could test us at the earliest possible time. (Yes, I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. No, I don’t have OCD.)

When we finally found one that could accommodate us, there was some confusion about whether or not the appointment was confirmed. The time of the appointment changed too,  and there was delay in processing the payment because of the bank’s system maintenance. And then, late last night, they sent an email with several forms that we were required to accomplish. It was stressful, and I had to tell them, “We don’t have a printer!” 

Fortunately, Dante came to the rescue: offered to print the documents at home and to send them to us via Grab Express. So in the middle of the night, Oneal, Victor and I were filling up our forms and looking for digital copies of our IDs, and we sent them to Dante for printing. The Grab rider arrived with the documents at 2:00 am. 

We woke up early, and the swab team arrived before the appointed time. My mother was distressed that the entire village would see us getting tested. But with positive cases in the village, I felt we were being prudent and responsible, and the neighbors’ opinions were hardly a matter of life or death. The swab team put on their PPEs, and we set up a little table in the garden so they could check our documents. They asked some questions, but I think I spent more time interviewing them, about their work, their clients, their protocols. 

The test itself was quick: swab in the throat, then swab in each nostril. Perhaps because of the anticipation, the swabs didn’t seem painful. ‘Uncomfortable’ doesn’t even seem to be an accurate description. To me, it just felt invasive and itchy. The throat swab was okay, but the swabs in the nostrils made my eyes water, and I was coughing for a while. My poor brother must have been sneezing for an hour afterwards. My mom’s eyes got watery too, and Oneal was sniffly afterwards. 

This whole time, we were chatting and joking with the swab team. They told us how other clients behaved during their swab tests, and the panicked phone calls of clients waiting for test results that were delayed. They talked about how the lab staff, especially the swab teams, would get tested up to three times a week. They talked about their own fears over getting infected, about how much work they had because of the surges in cases, about the backlog in their lab. They told me they had swabbed children as young as a year old, three years old, and how sorry they were to deliver positive results.

I don’t know how many appointments they had before they came to us, or how many more tests they had to do afterwards, but I hope our jokes and our laughter cheered them up a bit. The whole ordeal certainly had Lucas in stitches, giggling as we sneezed and coughed and made faces after getting swabbed. 

I hope we never have to get him tested. 

I want to say that I hope we test negative, but I don’t really know anymore. It may be more realistic to hope that, should any of us test positive, our symptoms remain mild and our recovery be swift. 

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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