Soar throat. Headache. Cough. All symptoms of a common cold, but in this crazy new world, these symptoms could also spell the beginning of a deadly virus.
I had been living with flu symptoms for a few days before I decided to go and get tested for Coronavirus. I live in a share house with a nurse and a disability support worker, so the chance of me contracting Covid-19 are actually semi high. What worried me more though was that if I contracted it from elsewhere and gave it to them, then they could in-turn pass it on to their patients.
Though I knew I had a social responsibility to get tested, I probably put it off longer than I should have. I had seen what the tests were like and I was scared. Nobody wants a swab stuck up their nose or down their throat. Just thinking about it sent shivers down my spine. Spoiler alert: it’s really not that bad. In fact, the worst part about the whole experience was just the wait.
When I first arrived at the Five Dock Leisure Centre, the traffic control staff told me that I would have to circle the block until there was room in the drive thru. This would have been fine, except there were a dozen other cars also circulating, and there was no guarantee that a new car wouldn’t nab the spot if they arrived at the right moment. I was lucky enough to muscle my way in on my fourth lap around the block, as a new car was also ushered in.
If you’re thinking about getting tested, I would suggest arriving just before opening hours in order to secure a spot.
After about an hour and a half, I finally made it to the front of the line. But not before some entertaining yet equally disappointing displays of anger from other drivers. “I’ve been waiting over an hour. This is unacceptable”, one soccer mum screamed from her Volvo. Another time, with no pretence of social distancing, a man in a suit actually got out of his car to argue with a traffic controller. From what I could catch of the conversation, he wanted to leave but he was already too far in to the traffic gridlock for them to help him.
The actual testing station has two parts to it. First, a nurse will ask you to call a number and record your details over the phone. At the same time, the nurse is jotting your information down on a piece of paper. It’s standard questions; name, date of birth, next of kin etc. This probably takes no longer than five minutes.
The second station is where the magic happens. Swab time. When I pulled up to this station, I still had to wait a few minutes before my nurse was ready. The suspense almost killed me. Until that moment, I’d managed to distract myself from the knowledge that I was about to have a swab stuck directly up my nose- but now I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I’m not going to lie. The feeling of the nasal swab was uncomfortable, at best. It goes up farther than you would have thought physically possible, until it hits a squishy roof. It feels like it’s pressing into a button just below your brain. In fact, I swear I even heard a clicking noise as the point pushed against the mushy top.
My eyes were watering and I even let out a cry as it reached it’s peak- the pressure against my nose becoming overwhelming. But, it lasted less than 5 seconds. As soon as the swab was removed I felt instant relief. And I never felt any pain. My eyes watered for about a minute afterwards and my nose felt a bit itchy.
Five seconds of discomfort for a world of reassurance. I got my results that same night; Negative!
I’d gone into the test assuming that the nurses would be tired and removed, having to repeat the procedure hundreds of times a day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Both the women that tested me were overly kind. They were laughing and the atmosphere was light because of it. They put me at ease and made the experience as pleasant as it could be.
If you’re think you need to get tested, then do it. Yes, the wait is a bit of a hassle. Yes, the test is unpleasant. But knowing that you’re Covid free is a great feeling. Even if you’re not doing it for yourself, do it for your housemates, your family, your community.
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