I know, I know you are tired of hearing about COVID-19. But let's face facts, until some undisclosed time in the future, we are all going to have to get used to the idea that COVID-19 is a prevalent part of our lives. From the mandatory face mask policies in the towns and cities across America to temperature taking at your local restaurant to the daily infection numbers that the news loves to promote, COVID-19 is not a simple, easily-dismissed virus. In the United States alone, there have been over 12,500,000 cases diagnosed and over 258,000 deaths. Much derision exists over blame for COVID-19 mortalities, but we can only try our best to take care of ourselves at the end of the day.
Unenviably, in the past few months, my wife and I have been tested twice for COVID-19. The first time the primary exposure was to my wife and me secondarily. We heard about the exposure one night after dinner, so we decided to quarantine ourselves for fourteen days or until we could be tested. Neither of us showed any physical symptoms, but the mind is a powerful organ. Within hours of hearing about the exposure, both my wife and I felt like we had sore throats, both felt a little warm, and dinner didn't have a whole lot of taste. As I said, the mind is a powerful tool. Both "sore throats' were from all-day conference calls and then debating whether we had the virus for another four hours that night. Our feeling warm was just in our imaginations. After taking our temperature multiple times that evening, I never broke 98°, and my wife was never higher than 97.8°. Dinner that night was pasta, and the lack of taste was due to each of us thinking the other salted the water before putting the pasta in it.
The next day after a brief virtual visit with our primary care physician, he sent us to a testing facility that offered the "rapid" test and the "48-Hour test". But being anxious about COVID-19, we both decided to do the "rapid" test. After having a cotton swab touch what felt like was my brain, we had our results in less than 30 minutes. We were both negative for COVID-19 but told that the accuracy of the test is questionable. If we were to develop symptoms in the next ten days, we should contact our doctor.
Now I don't blame the technician who gave us the information, nor do I question his statement's truthfulness. But what was the point of doing the "rapid" test if the test's accuracy was so questionable? Instead of gaining a sense of relief after the negative test, we were both back to our big balls of anxiety that we had been when we first heard the exposure news.
Fast Forward 9 days later >>
"Hey Phil, I just tested positive for COVID. My daughter tested positive yesterday, and my wife and I tested positive today." - a text message from one of my friends.
The issue was we were both in the same board meeting for a local charity three days before. Now, I know that I should have quarantined myself for fourteen days after the last exposure, but life gets in the way. Groceries have to be purchased; dogs need to be walked; appointments need to be kept. So why not attend a board meeting? I had no symptoms, and the organization was taking precautions. We had to have my temperature taken before entering the building; masks were worn the entire time; the meeting would be less than an hour; only seven people were invited to attend; no food or drink was permitted. What could go wrong?
I can honestly say that at this point, I didn't know what made me more anxious: having been exposed to COVID-19 again or telling my wife. After a little more than a sigh, my wife went into what I now call her "COVID Protocol." She immediately said to me that until we tested negative, we were both under quarantine. She next called and made a virtual appointment with our physicians. Next was the food order, notification to her office that she would be working from home, and lastly, a little chuckle to signify she wasn't upset with me. During our virtual visit with our doctor, we explained the exposure method. He explained that only the person who was within six feet of the person who tested positive was exposed. Just because my wife had been near me didn't mean she was exposed. After discussing it with our primary care doctor, my wife decided to be tested also.
The next day we drove back to the testing facility and received our nasal swabs. But this time, we opted for the "48-hour" test. Of course, I sneezed while the nurse was swabbing me, which led to a bloody nose. My fault, not hers. Then began the 48 hours of anxiety, melodramatic thoughts, and quarantine.
A day and a half later, we both received notification that we were negative. Obviously, we were both relieved and elated (and a few pounds heavier). But taking one quick look at our schedules for the next week, I no longer saw meetings and appointments; I now saw new opportunities to get a virus that has killed over 1,400,000 people.