I took a COVID test this morning. It was one of those home-test kits we got for free and stashed in a closet for future use. My throat was sore when I woke up and I’d had a runny nose the previous morning. A runny nose is my usual state of nose, so I did not think much about it until my throat hurt. I had stopped taking my allergy medicine because it makes me feel tired and dried out. My nose is used to having fluid flowing through it, so when the spigot stops, everything dries up like a parched trout on a cracked river bottom. It’s a wicked cycle of stopping and starting meds, facilitating flooding the desert followed by draining the swamp. My head space feels like an ecosystem that can’t settle on an identity.
The test result was negative. There was a nice pink C line with no T line in sight. The test instructions claim this means negative, if I had followed all the directions to the letter. They shouldn’t say that. It makes me wonder if I had followed each step exactly as written. I could have missed something, distracted by a sore throat and the morning news. Then I wondered if there was an optimal time of day for administering the test. Perhaps I should not have eaten breakfast first. Maybe my finger tip touched the dropper. Or I didn’t swab an adequate amount of real estate inside my nostrils for the appropriate amount of time. I could dig the test out of the garbage and check again, but it’s been more than 30 minutes since I placed precisely 4 drops into the space marked “Drop your probable contagion here.” What if I accidently squeezed 6 drops? Could I then allow a little more time for the test to be accurate? Unreasonable paranoia was finally overruled by optimistic pragmatism. I could say emphatically, the test result was negative. Time to move on.
But my mind works in mysterious, circus-like ways. As I brushed my teeth, I wondered how many other people had taken a home COVID test this morning. Would they trust the outcome? The instruction page noted all the ways the test could result in a false negative, with no mention of a possible false positive. If you got the T line, you were pretty much toast. Then decisions would have to be made. Prior to taking the test, I ran through all the possible scenarios that might follow the news that I had been sucked into the COVID vortex. The worst thought was I would have to tell everyone I had seen (outside) the previous day. I imagined that confession would be akin to admitting to reckless negligence followed by banishment from the community at large. I would have to cancel all my plans for the week, including a concert we bought tickets for months ago. Would other people take these actions?
I remedied my current sinus situation with a round of Claritin and a dose of Flonase. I don’t want to give the appearance of virus-y infection as it might undermine other people’s confidence in my “too paranoid to get COVID” status. Much of the general population seems to have capitulated, with a sense of weary resignation, to the notion that everyone on earth will inevitably get this crap so we might as well stop any precautions which merely prolong the misery of worrying about it. Not me! Worrying is one of my usual pastimes, the practice of which most likely puts me at a greater risk of compromising my otherwise semi-impeccable immune system, which I have worked hard over the years to maintain. It is with a sense of a personal vendetta that I eat right, exercise, meditate, get a good night’s sleep and wear a mask to the grocery store in order to fight this upstart of a virus. This is the best I can do to keep it at bay. I wish I could kill it with my bare hands. And then, of course, use the sanitizer I keep in my backpack to kill it some more.
With the current spring-like weather and encouraged by the supposed lower case rate, I have been sending myself out to play in the sunshine more often. Hospitalization rates are trending downward as well as the percent of positive cases of the latest version of the virus in my county. It occurred to me, as I was swabbing the inside of my cranium, that any positive outcome resulting from a home test, might not be included in those numbers. All my vaxxed friends who managed to get the scourge had little to no symptoms. Who counts the un-tested positives and the tested-but-kept-secret positives? I’m guessing no one. How can one determine one’s risk when some of the data is not available? The Center for Disease Control now says wear a mask if you’re freaked out about it, otherwise generally healthy, vaccinated people can forgo said barrier if the numbers are low in your area.
But here’s the teasing part of this contagion. It’s too new to know what parts of our bodies will be affected in the long run. For instance, according to my research (short, unprofessional, online reading of a few medical articles), evidence is beginning to emerge that COVID might be significantly associated with new cases of erectile dysfunction. No need to panic, as this association needs further studies since researchers don’t yet know how this happens other than it happens to all men at some time or another, so don’t give it another thought because cuddling and kissing are just as satisfying. With this news, we may see a lot more guys swaddled in multiple masks and/or sipping their beer through a straw, outside, six feet away from everyone else.
As time marches on, I expect we’ll see just how much after-party suffering we will experience as a species due to the plague of our time. In the meantime, the earth is beginning to thaw out from the cold. Here, in the southeastern corner of the Appalachian Mountains, people are emerging in droves from their winter dens to flock to our many local outdoor venues. I am one of those people. With my negative COVID test to back me up, I met with my gal pals to have lunch without reservations. We all sat outside at one table without masks and chatted while we ate nice food someone else had cooked for us. We laughed and made plans for the future and felt almost normal (problems of erectile dysfunction far from our happy minds). Then Tee and I hauled our butts off for a 5-mile training hike through the commercial district of West Asheville. We did stop for ice cream; in case you were wondering.
It felt good to crash on my couch tonight after a long, industrious day. My guy gave my feet a healing massage. My dog sweetly hung out on the couch with me to watch an episode of Northern Exposure and I exhaled a few sighs of satisfaction. I feel as though I passed many tests today and came through with stellar grades. To keep this feel-good moment going, I will not be watching the evening news. Tomorrow is soon enough for the antics of the greater world to invade my sense of peace.
Until next time,