The hospital volunteer switched the channel to the 700 Club.
“Seriously?” I whispered.
So she changed it to FOXNews.
I was waiting to be ushered into the isolation room at ER. Think nurses in Star Wars helmets. Doctors in masks and goggles. They were preparing that room because a visit to two urgent care clinics earlier in the week had one doctor tell me: “I can’t say for sure that you have Coronavirus because I don’t have anyway to test for that. We don’t have tests. But if you ask me if that’s what I think this is – yes.”
And, she noted, I was the third person she’d seen that day who she believed to be suffering from it. She was pissed about not having anyway to diagnosis the problem. She offered to do a virus panel that might identify other viruses, but the test was expensive she said.
How much? I asked.
Would we do anything different if the panel came back negative?
No, she said.
Okay, then let’s don’t, I said, thinking I would save $600. Our medical insurance is a $5,000 deductible, like a lot of Americans. Those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance at all.
Circle back on Thursday. We might have the test by then, she said.
But on Wednesday I was much much worse and I was bad enough. I called Urgent Care again. It was my doctor who had sent me to Urgent Care on Monday. That’s where we are asking patients with symptoms like yours to go.
I was sent home with the hopes of testing for Coronavirus on Thursday. Until then I had Tylenol and bed rest and self-isolation.
Neighbors Bert & Jeff brought over groceries. Friends from church called and left soups on the porch. Pastor texted. My precious children sent me Starbucks everyday and my son-in-laws, in the medical profession, listened to me fall apart and reassured me everything would be okay. Friends called and sat up with me at night, telling me stories, making me laugh. I watched Ellen, avoided all news. Tim, who works out-of-town in the week, called, checked in, listened to me cry some more. Told me everything would be okay, even though, I know he was wondering himself. Thank you to everyone who has been praying. Thank you.
No one has ever seen me so sick, not even me.
The gal who checked me into the ER was visibly upset when I told her the Urgent Care doctor had me as a “presumptive positive” for Coronavirus.
“I’m not upset with you,” she said, patting my hand with her gloved one. “But that’s not how we are supposed to do this. That’s not the rules.”
I was on Day 5 of whatever was ailing me. I burst into tears. “Are you crying because you are afraid or is it something else?”
“I’m exhausted,” I said. “I haven’t slept. I need some relief. Something besides Tylenol.”
My fever had been 102 on Wednesday. Breathing had become so difficult, Tim had told me to put ice packs on my sinuses to keep the inflammation down. That was the only relief I could get. It helped but it was impossible to sleep.
I was in no mood to deal with whatever internal policies and politics were driving these medical professionals to put on hazard gear when dealing with me, but not to test for Coronavirus.
I wish I could give you the name of the nurse who attended me in the isolation room at the ER but she never gave me her name. In fact, only one person the entire day introduced themselves. The gal who checked me in. But that nurse, wearing her Star Wars mask said she thought the whole thing was overkill, wearing all that gear. “Corona isn’t an airborne virus,” she said.
“This is what I get for clean living. Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, drink rarely, and even got my flu shot,” I said, trying to make an attempt at humor.
“I never get those,” she said. “They don’t work but 60 percent of the time.”
Mind you, this was an ER nurse.
They did a chest x-ray. It was clear. No pneumonia.
The doctor ran the virus panel that I didn’t have run earlier at Urgent Care.
“What if the virus panel comes back negative, too?” I asked. “Then do you do the Coronavirus test?”
“No,” the nurse said. “We only do that if we admit you to the hospital.”
“Really?” I said. “Why is that?”
“The test is complicated.”
“Really? Because South Korea is doing it via Drive-Up. It can’t be that complicated.”
“Oh, don’t believe everything you read,” she said. “You really shouldn’t. The test requires swabbing nose, throat, etc.”
The doctor walks in.
“Good news!” he said. “You have RSV.”
Respiratory Syncytial Virus. A virus that usually affects children but is contagious.
“I think it would be highly unlikely that you would have RSV and Coronavirus.” Not that he could rule it out entirely given that they never, ever tested for it.
He wrote out a handful of prescriptions and told me it would take another week to clear up, and that I would need to stay in self-isolation because it is highly contagious. “Take Benadryl to help you sleep,” he said.
I woke up from my Benadryl-induced coma this morning and my fever was gone. At least for the time.
Here’s what I learned from all this:
- CDC is repressing the numbers of test given and cases confirmed
- Trump is a liar but I knew that already. Vote Blue.
- There are items that we all really should always have on hand: Gatorade, Tylenol, Ibuprofren, Vitamin C, Zinc, Kleenex, Benadryl, chewing gum (dry mouth), soups (wide variety), toilet paper, cough drops, chapstick, teas, and dog food or cat food if you have animals. I wasn’t prepared with most of these items when I fell ill and so others have had to come along and provide them for me. Thankfully, so many have offered help and have made sure I had all these items.
- If you fall ill with RSV or Coronavirus, for gosh sakes, don’t watch the news, don’t read it, don’t let people tell you about it. Watch Ellen. Find someone to talk to who makes you laugh. We can only do what we can to stay healthy. Wash your hands. Wipe the house and car down with Clorox or Lysol. Change out your toothbrushes. Rest. Pray. Rest some more.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me out this week. This one knocked me for a loop but it also showed me that I have a safety-net of loving family and friends. Thank you for being there for me.
Bend, Oregon reported its first case of Coronavirus on Wednesday.
Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of several books. She does not own a hazmat suit or a Star Wars helmet, but she is currently reconsidering those fashion items.