Every few weeks, I have been getting sick with the same symptoms- fever, dry cough, headaches, and fatigue. So I finally decided to write to my doctor and ask what to do. I sent a long email, explaining that I was sure I didn’t have the virus because- well, because I didn’t have all the symptoms, and I was healthy. I work for a non-profit; my job is to save others, not get sick myself. Somewhere in the long explanatory email, I gave out my symptoms of sleeping 15 hours a day and the rest. After a few hours, I had an email pop up from Kaiser Permanente, saying that they had very efficiently set up a phone appointment for me for the next morning. I was impressed! My phone appointment was at 10 am, and at 9:30, while I was on a Zoom call, my phone starts ringing, and the name “Kaiser doctor”(as I had saved the number in my phone)showed up on my iPhone screen. I masterfully clicked the “leave meeting” button on Zoom and picked up the phone.
“Hi, this is Dr. (I honestly don’t remember his name!)”
From there on, we had a 15 min conversation, and he asked tons of questions. The doctor then concluded that I needed to get tested for COVID-19.
“Say what?” was my response.
“Yes I have put in a referral you can go to the drive-thru testing center, try to go soon.”
And the conversation was over.
I got up and woke up my teenage son to drive me to the Kaisar hospital nearby where the tests were being administered. I had no clue what to expect. We drove down there me in my NASA Tshirt and matching black mask, while my son half asleep as I dragged him out of bed to take me. We arrived at the parking lot, and there were about 40 cars in front of us. The line was on the wrong side of the street that led us into Kaisar’s covered parking structure via a massive and empty parking lot for Fry’s Electronics.
It took us about an hour to get close to a small blue and white canopy, which was right before the entrance of the covered parking structure. A lady wearing a mask sat under it, and as we pulled up to her, she motioned my son who was in the driver’s seat to open his window only a few inches. She handed him some papers and asked me to have my ID and Medical Card available and in my hand at all times. There was a security guard who motioned us to go into the structure. It was like in the movies- there were little artificial walls propped up covered in blue plastic. All over, there were signs about turning off the car and putting the keys on the dashboard, no photography or video making signs, and people were walking around in hazmat suits, a helmet-like thing with a plastic to cover the face and gloves.
At the first station, a young lady asked for my health card and ID. She handed us more paperwork and told us to move forward to the next station.
We moved a little forward, and a young man came to my side of the car. He told me to open the window only a little and handed me a tissue.
“Please blow your nose,” he said
I felt like a child when I had a runny nose, and my mom would say, “go blow your nose.” Anyway, I blew my nose while he watched me. He then told me that what was going to happen would be uncomfortable and painful, but it would pass soon and motioned me to roll down my window entirely. He told me to look forward while he pulled up a really long q-tip from his other hand and slowly stuck it up my right nostril. It felt like it went all the way up and hit my brain (I’m sure it didn’t), then he twisted the q-tip around a few times while I squirmed and tried not to cough. He eventually pulled it out, and I fell into a coughing frenzy. He very kindly told me to shut the window and pull forward. My son drove ahead to the third and last station.
At the last station, an older man came up to me and told me he was the doctor and asked about my symptoms and gave me a note for work. He also told me to “act” like I had the virus and be cautious around others. He handed me more paperwork and told me that we could leave.
What shocked me the most about the whole process was the kindness of the people administering the test. They were patient and professional while risking their lives for the rest of us. Not for a moment did I feel unsafe or like I was a threat because I might be carrying a virus, and I salute them for doing this day in and day out. It made me even angrier to think of people calling the virus a hoax and arguing about the validity of the number of people dying. We thank veterans for their service, and we need to appreciate these healthcare workers who are fighting an unknown war- no one knows how long it will go on for or what the enemy’s strength or weakness is. Let’s give them the respect they deserve.
I still don’t have the results, but whatever it is, I believe in these healthcare professionals, and I know I am in good hands.