It’s getting easier to access a swab test for COVID-19, but you still need a referral from a doctor, and a little courage. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

It’s getting easier to access a swab test for COVID-19, but you still need a referral from a doctor, and a little courage. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

COLUMN: I sneezed, I coughed, so I got tested for COVID-19

Accessing a swab test is easy these days, but the actual test can more than a little daunting

First of all, I need to sincerely apologize to the health nurse who performed my COVID-19 test.

I don’t always act like the melting Wicked Witch of the West, growling and pawing at my own face. Then again, who knew that swabs were half-a-foot long and could reach around to scratch your brains.

For the rest of you, I’ll back up a bit. It all started last week, with a post-workday nap that turned into a deep sleep.

Then there was the dry cough, the runny and tender nose, the pain in my forehead. Ultimately, there was the fact that all of the above didn’t disappear with a good dose of allergy medications.

I called in sick, because clearly I had caught a cold. And in addition to the ultimate cure of hot soups and daytime television, I had to go for a COVID-19 test. If we’ve learned anything from COVID-19 it’s that distancing works. And even the slightest chance that I may have spread the novel coronavirus around the office in the preceding days sent a flu-like shiver up my spine.

The first part was the easiest. I called up my family doctor’s office and told them I was sick. The doctor called back the next day and agreed I needed a test. A family member picked up the requisition and I was on my way to the Chilliwack Public Health Unit.

READ MORE: VIDEO: New COVID-19 testing machine takes load off B.C.’s virologists and labs

I ran through the raindrops to the front door, only to be turned around to the side of the building I had sprinted past.

Around the corner, signs on the building and markings on the ground direct you where to stand and what to do. A nurse was waiting at the doorway, ready to screen me for my symptoms. With that out of the way, I was in the building, which has been temporarily turned into a make-shift COVID-19 testing ward. The first thing I noticed is that the windows are all sealed off with poly and tape.

A few wide rows of spaced apart chairs face away from the entrance, and a few testing areas have been curtained off along one wall.

Distancing is in place that is well above the suggested two metres, and it made me feel safe. It also reminded me that this is a serious threat to some people’s health. It underscored why I was standing there, requisition in hand, sniffles in my nostrils, and a fear of what’s about to happen. I would have preferred to be back at the office, writing. Prior to COVID-19, I wouldn’t even have blinked twice at going to work with a dripping nose. A bit of cold medication, some strong coffee and tissues and I would have been on my way.

But we know more now, don’t we? If anything, staying home when sick should be adopted as the new normal.

I’m sent to a curtained off area, and we run through the list of questions. As my ‘yes’ answers pile up faster than the ‘no’ answers, the hypochondriac within me feels like maybe I do have the virus.

When it was time to tilt the head back, and let the nurse do her thing, I felt immensely brave. But as brave as I am in my heart, my body always has other plans. I felt my eyes widen as the swab entered my nose and quickly jammed up. My eyes teared. I gagged. I grabbed my chin, for some unknown reason, coughed and snorted and began to make those aforementioned witchy noises.

With no luck on the right, she moved to the left. I felt the swab glide up easily and for a slice of a second, I thought this would be easier. Of course, I was wrong and I was once again writhing in the chair.

So the bad news is, I’m utterly ridiculous. The good news is, it was over very quickly and shouldn’t be avoided for any reason. Results are quick, available on myehealth.com within 24 hours, and if you test positive they will call in the same time frame.

Also good news? My COVID-19 test that day was negative and it was likely just that regular ‘old’ coronavirus — the common cold. As of today, I’m one of more than 171,000 people who have been tested for COVID-19 in B.C. To date, there have been 2,775 cases in this province, and 168 deaths. Eleven people are in the hospital today with COVID-19, and five of those are in an ICU.

And so, despite the temporary discomfort, I would do it again.

For more information on how and when to get a COVID-19 test, visit www.bccdc.ca, call 8-1-1, or contact your physician’s office.

READ MORE:Canada buying 140,000 blood tests to begin immunity testing of COVID-19


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ColumnCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
Rutland deemed ‘high-transmission’ area, people over 30 offered COVID-19 vaccine

Interior Health offers residents of Rutland and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Alex Hegedus (left) with his wife and two young children. (Contributed/Kelowna RCMP)
Family offers reward for information about Peachland man’s suspicious 2018 death

Alex Hegedus died under suspicious circumstances in March 2018

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

Flooding around the entrance of Mission Creek into Okanagan Lake has been a reflection of the impact of climate change on the spring snowmelt across the Okanagan Valley watershed. (File photo)
B.C. water sustainability plan pitched to Okanagan stakeholders

Seeking resolution to water and land-use conflicts

A woman checks out a jobs advertisement sign during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto in April 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Kelowna’s unemployment rate jumps in April, remains one of Canada’s lowest

Kelowna had the fifth-lowest unemployment rate of major centres across the country in April

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Lake Country firefighters assisted the RCMP on Kalamalka Lake Tuesday, May 4. (Fire Department file photo)
Okanagan RCMP interrupt houseboat break-in

Pair in their 30s arrested but no charges laid after alleged Kalamalka Lake incident

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Revelstoke’s Mayor Gary Sulz getting his COVID-19 vaccination on April 5. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke is leading B.C.’s interior on vaccinations: Interior Health

Approximately 70% of the community has first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

An unused fruit stand at Highway 97 and Road 1 went up in flames Thursday night. (Oliver Fire Department)
Abandoned South Okanagan fruit stand fire considered suspicious

The timing of the midnight fire is one reason the fire is suspicious

Most Read