Today I learned that I tested “negative” for COVID-19.
Aside from a few people, I’ve kept very quiet about the process. It was personal, and terrifying, from start to finish. I wasn’t certain what I was going to do if I tested positive, but I knew if I tested negative I needed to get the information out there. Getting the test isn’t the end of the world, and you should do better than me to remember that.
Because I felt like I was all alone. No one talks about it. No one gives any indication how many tests come back negative – we’re not tracking that, and we should be. I had my first panic attack and my second. I cried…a lot. I recorded a few quick videos for big moments in my son’s life. In short, I took shit too far, but I had so much fear in my body that it happened. I worried about how unready I am to leave this world and not enjoy all the perks of being a mom. How many stories I still have to tell and how many adventures I’m yet to have.
While you wait for results, you’re isolated. Alone. You can hear the rest of the house carrying on without you, and it’s gut wrenching. All you want is to stay positive, but all you can think about is how you can’t hold your child. How your husband is left doing ALL the cleaning and cooking. How your elderly mom (sorry mom, but at 72, you’re elderly), is taking care of the child when Mike has to report to work because military are essential personnel.
So, here we go. Let’s start. It’s a bit long, but I blame the length of the process for that, so I hope you’ll stick with me until the end – which is when I got the call this afternoon. This will a post about what I went through, but I’ll do a timeline post at the very end, as the timeline for everything was truly the worst part.
When the symptoms first started it wasn’t that I was in denial, it’s that I didn’t have the fever OR the dry cough. I had a sick child, a sore throat, a boring cough, and a single day of horrendous stomach issues that just resulted in a lot of restroom visits, but no real issues with said visits. (Ironic I can write erotic sex scenes but I struggle to discuss pooping).
Sunday the 22nd I woke up sick. Common cold sick. No fever, no dry cough. I did experience fuzzy thoughts and a ton of dripping nose issues. I took some cold medicine that night. I totally dried out and was fine. Mentally, I didn’t have a second thought. Monday, I took a daytime cold medicine, and aside from being high as kite (which is normal for me), I was fine.
Monday night things took a turn for the worse. I could feel pins and needles in my legs. They were on fire, then they were icy cold, then they were just asleep. Over and over. I had a good cry. I panicked. I went to sleep. I woke up, I wish I could remember the sensation but I made Mike get out of bed and hold me. The next day, I learned I’d had a panic attack.
Tuesday my mental state kept slipping. Though I wasn’t any sicker, the fear grew and grew. I didn’t sleep until nearly 4 am, fear that I’d stop breathing the main cause. When I did sleep, I woke up three times choking so hard I couldn’t breathe, and my eyes watered.
Wednesday, I went to Quick Care. They were wonderful. I was admittedly treated like I was infected, but I get it. They did everything they could, right down to taking chest X-rays. X-rays were clear. My circulation and pulse were strong. I had no fever – I never had. I knew what came next – I’d be told to go home and isolate and don’t waste the test.
To my surprise, not only was I prescribed medicine, but I was told to go to take the test. My underlying conditions – the very ones rendering me a terrified lump – were the same ones sending me to get the test. Asthma. A single kidney. A small heart murmur.
I’d like to say I calmed down. That knowing I would go for the test helped. It didn’t. I hardly slept that night. Aidan gave me a Button to help me feel better and I sure as shit clutched that adorable little toy as I tried to sleep and brought it with me. Per the doctor’s suggestion, I was up at 5 am to head down to the drive thru testing site.
I got there at 6:45 am and piled in behind an already growing line of cars. I was the second line of a wrap – the first being close to two sets of tents. Though there were cop cars, no people stood outside the cars. I drove up and left my foot on the brake as all the others did. Would I be done soon? Do they start early?
I sat for 45 min. The panic growing. The queasiness increasing. I looked into other cars. All around me, only single people sat. I hoped none had large families at home should they get the result no one wanted. Trepidation swarmed me as I continued to worry I was too far down in the line to receive a test. This location only did 250 a day and I was 7 minutes later arriving than suggested.
Around 7:30 a man in a bright safety vest began walking. He went from car to car passing out masks and informing us to leave our windows up. Opening it would result in removal.
So I sat there, with a giant mask that impeded my vision and made breathing harder. I talked to the universe (I’m not a “god” person). I worried about what came next. I emailed my husband, texted my mom and checked in on Aidan, ensuring he was still asleep.
Then we started to move. My throat went dry but I drove. Start, stop. Start, stop. Then I reached the curve. I rolled my window down. They asked if I had symptoms or was in contact. I started to say symptoms and show my doctors note. I was cut off, pointed in a direction and told to roll my window up.
Next, a man knocked on the window and I rolled it down. He told me to secure my hair and watch his finger out the front window. He took my temperature – read it aloud – 99.8, and told me to pull into a line. He wrote it on a clear plastic holder, stuck a yellow paper in, and slid it under my windshield wiper.
My heart slammed in my chest as the world grew dizzy. I’d not had a temperature before. How much could I Google as I got closer to the cops since I was sitting still. Everything showed accurate except for -0.5. Then I remembered panic makes you feverish. It could be nothing. I chanted it to myself, along with the word “negative” over and over again.
I pulled up and stopped under a tent. Two people in hazmat suits asked for my ID and insurance card. They wrote furiously, ignoring me as they did before muttering only two cars under the tent and then shooed me along. The next man was ironically quite jovial. We talked about the test, and while he did it he mentioned “Scrambling your brain,” with a small laugh.
I pulled forward again. This time to get information on the results. When I’d get them, how to exit the facility. A whole bunch of info on the sheet contradicted what the man said, but the important part was this: call in 7 days.
So I went home.
I’d love to say I was this big, brave girl who went and slept in another room, hand sanitized every after move, and enjoyed herself. I didn’t … well I did all the things, but I was a mess. I was afraid, deathly afraid.
During the day I’d be fine. Then that night it would get bad. I’d get the circulation issues and weakness in my legs again. I’d cry. I’d rant to my husband who isn’t an emotional person – aka I drove him nuts. I’d lay awake at night swearing I wasn’t breathing correctly. My chest hurt on and off but never like the described articles of which I read 100% too many.
I bought a pulse oximeter. It was my best friend. Except for after a bad round of shortness of breath on Saturday that lead to my inhaler. My heartbeat spiked and it freaked me out. Everything physically trembled. I almost went to the hospital but fear of exposing myself kept me in my place. When it didn’t stop, I did call. Take some walks, call back.
Thankfully, the walks helped. Unfortunately, that ended the small mental superiority I had. I spiraled. When it was quiet in the house, I made videos for Aidan. Twenty seconds max because I couldn’t control the emotion beyond that. One for his birthday in May. One for his first day of big kid school. One for when he drives. One for his wedding day. I gave into the fear and I’m not proud of it, but creating a memory for my son, who already didn’t understand why the person who was always there couldn’t be, was more important.
I was ready to fight. I didn’t know what it was, but I was ready. To this exact moment something is still wrong. I still have mucus dripping down my throat despite a ton of meds. I still have random heartburn. But that’s for another day.
Results should have started coming in yesterday. They didn’t and I was a wreck of symptoms last night. While stuff gets worse at night, I have a bad feeling I aided to it.
While at work, my phone blared next to me. The screen showing “COVID Testing” (which is what I labeled it). I thought it was finally time. My heartbeat slammed in my chest as I answered and began to shake.
I thought I’d get answers. I didn’t. First I got bombarded with questions to confirm I was me. All I wanted was the stupid results. Then, the nice woman finally gave them to me “negative”. I cried. No, I bawled. I heard her talking about the paper for “negative” results, but I hardly focused. She warned me I was negative today, but my immune system is lower and to be careful. My mom walked up and I somehow mouthed negative to her.
I hung up. I kept crying. I ran across the house shouting “Mommy’s better!” and scooping Aidan into my arms. I twirled him. I put him down. He came back for more hugs. He asked me to sleep in bed tonight. We bounced and danced. Then I called my husband to tell him as well.
At the end of the day, I tested negative. I received the news so many want and are unable to get. I’m beyond fortunate. The fight against COVID-19 isn’t over. We still need to stay home. We still need to flatten and then eradicate the curve. My husband still has to come and go – each time putting us all at risk again as he shares rooms at work. So let’s do this together. Let’s stop going out, stop sitting on porches and patios with friends. Let’s remember that while you aren’t scared, someone else, somewhere close, is.
Thursday, March 12th:
Dry, scratchy throat.
Monday, March 16th:
A cough began. It wasn’t a deep cough. It wasn’t wet. It wasn’t dry. Additionally, Aidan began to sneeze and cough – the same nasty cough he had from November until early January.
Thursday, March 18th:
Stomach issues from hell today. I was able to secure a telehealth call for Aidan for the next day.
Friday, March 19th:
The doctor said he didn’t seem to have it, but we needed to get him down to the mobile pediatrician site in Kenner to see what he might have. While we waited, he was tested for strep and flu – both negative. Due to no circulation or fever, they said it was a likely a cold.
Sunday, March 22nd:
I woke up with full on cold symptoms.
Wednesday, March 25th:
Went to the doctor. Clear lungs. Sent for testing.
Thursday, March 26th:
Took the test at the Alario Center.
Monday, March 30th:
Received my negative result.
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