We need Covid-19 testing–but maybe there’s a better way

Michael was under the weather. I had a sore throat that seemed a little worse than usual. Someone in the area had a birthday party and dozens attended. Our local hospital asked everyone in our area to receive the test. Combine all that with my natural inclination to be an obedient citizen, and getting a test just seemed like the “right” thing to do. Now, I wish I hadn’t.

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Sometimes you critique something you think is important. This is one of those times. We need Covid-19 testing. I just think we need testing to be more transparent and more workable for patients.

First and foremost, I put my family at risk. Going to get the test was the most exposure to covid-19 I have likely had. Social distancing at the testing site? Yeah, sort of. In a technical kind of way. Masks? Most people wore them, but not everyone, and it’s nearly impossible not to fidget with a cloth mask when you are sweltering under the hot son. Anyway, masks are mostly supposed to protect others, not the wearer–so that didn’t seem super effective when only some people were wearing them. Going meant leaving our careful little bubble and coming in close proximity to a group of people who had a high chance of being infectious.

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Second, going took up our hospital’s time, space, and resources. We had been distancing well. There was always a chance we had been exposed through, say, our groceries, but we had no reason to suspect it. Feeling a little under the weather was attributable to spring allergies, which Michael and I both have.

I took up time. Given the long lines, I’d guess the hospital staff had to stay later than they originally planned. I also took up space in the line, which was a big deal given how many people who were elderly had to wait in line the whole time. (Seriously. Elderly patients should not be asked to wait in line under a hot son for an hour).

To be fair, I feel like I should have kept my wits about me better and reasoned that I was not likely to have Covid. But it might have felt a little more intuitive to stay home if the hospital had not requested that everyone, including those without any symptoms and without any outside contact, come in for a test. Especially when so many had to wait in line in the heat, including the sick and elderly.

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Third, going to get the test took a toll on me personally–which isn’t the end of the world, but it would have helped to know beforehand so my family could plan around it better.

It was hot and sunny, and I was not prepared to stand outside for the hour it took. I thought the test would be a drive-up test, as I had seen in videos on Facebook. I was told that if I pre-registered (which I did), it would take a total of 5-10 minutes. My guess is that there were more people than they expected, and they weren’t prepared to handle so much. Which is not their fault, and I don’t think anyone deserves blame. But I still think it’s fair to talk about so people know better what to expect, and if enough people talk about it, maybe some sites could be better prepared.

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Fourth and last, (and probably least important, but still), the test hurt. A lot. I left crying involuntarily, as did the girl behind me. In the single article I’ve found talking about this, commenters said things like They must have been millennials and Some people can’t take a pinprick and It’s just like the flu shot, no big deal. I even saw several comments say that calling the test “painful” was irresponsible.

Well. It isn’t necessarily just like the flu swab, as there are different flu nasal swab tests. Some go an inch into your nose; some go four inches into your nose and back to your pharynx. This one goes back to your pharynx. Most of the people who’ve had it that I’ve talked to said it was some level of painful.

Also, even if some people don’t find it painful, that doesn’t mean it won’t be very painful for others. For one, everyone has a different nose. Someone could have a different size or shape of their nostril, which could have a big impact on how painful a test was. Someone could have had already inflamed nasal passageways, which could make it more painful. The test felt very painful and invasive to me, and it just feels manipulative when everything I read online says “It might be uncomfortable, but not painful.” Judging by my experience, the test could have have sent Michael into spasms and could have seriously injured him (and hurt the tester, really), had he come with me and received the test. It’s still an important test, but people should know what they are getting into.

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You can indeed have snow capped mountains on a hot summer day.

Some of these issues were specific to my location. I think a drive-by would have been much better, which is what I’ve heard of from most people. That seems less likely to cause exposure in those getting tested. It also would be more sustainable for the sick and elderly.

I think it also might be worth embracing alternative testing methods, such as at-home saliva tests, in addition to the formal test. I know that they have a higher chance of producing a false-negative, and that could result in a false sense of security. However, I think the same could be said for the nasal swab if masses of people congregate to the same place for testing. I, for example, received a negative result. If I had become infected at the testing site, I would still have received a negative result, but would have had an even stronger false sense of security than if I had only taken an at-home test.

I also think we need some sense of moving forward and looking for better options–which means being allowed to talk about the risks and problems of getting tested in the first place. I think it is important to offer accurate information for other people who might receive a test. I think people deserve to know if their will be a line with other people or if the test will be painful, even if that would be politicized unfairly. It has to be okay to talk about these things, to raise issues and concerns.

This is a new, strange, bizarre journey for all of us. I hope we can make it the best it can be.

11 thoughts on “We need Covid-19 testing–but maybe there’s a better way”

  1. Sorry you had a bad experience. It’s tough to say either way if you should have gone, but it’s done and there’s nothing else you can do about it. I actually have not heard of anyone getting the test, on social or anywhere, really. In Thailand I think only those who are arriving from overseas get tested, but I don’t know. I haven’t seen any options. I think outdoors is generally safe, but I get it, you’re in a line. Agree with you though, the elderly should have been able to go first or be in a separate line. But you could say you did your duty, you were responsible, and you made the best decision that you could have in the circumstances. I hope you all take it easy and let go of the situation, Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point about the outdoors being safe. It’s definitely just a hard situation to go around, and I don’t think anyone is to blame, but I think it could be better. It was also just frustrating because I felt blindsided–being told it wouldn’t be painful and that it would be quick. Communication mistakes happen of course, but I think it’s also a bit taboo to talk about, which I don’t think is great.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure it could have been better! Unfortunately, folks have to learn from their mistakes and who the heck wants to be part of the learning process?! Not me.

        I’m not sure if it’s taboo or not, it’s just strange what folks share or don’t. Maybe there are different tests and maybe the person who gave you yours wasn’t very professional? or good at it? Kind of like when you get blood taken out, sometimes you get a great nurse or other times you get someone who’s not…and it sucks.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh this is horrible! I am so sorry that this was your experience! I have no idea how it works here in our area but I know that we did have multiple drive ups. Our area was pretty hard hit though (Detroit area). I have heard that it hurts though. 😦 My mother-in-law needed to have a test and she had a nose bleed. 😦

    It does sound like it was a mess of a situation. Like Lani said though, you did your your duty and were responsible and did the best you could.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think drive ups is a much better way to go. I don’t think I would have been as concerned about exposure then, and it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue for those who were elderly or already sick.

      Like

  3. Usually, I just skim blog posts but there’s something about yours, and I’ve been reading the whole thing carefully. I hope this is coming off as a compliment? Β―\_(ツ)_/Β― Thanks for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is horrible, what you had to go through. The way you wrote it seemed like I am seeing things happening in front of my eyes. A wonderful blog there. Never knew the test hurt though! No one in my country talked about it. Lets pray for the people all around. Take care. Stay safe. Thanks for the follow πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was definitely bizarre and not what I had expected. It may also just be the nurse I had, like Lani said… though it certainly can be painful. Hopefully we all get better at this new normal and all it entails, including me. ❀ Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Gail's Blog and commented:
    Announcements have alighted in my inbox about COVID-19 testing sites in my area. Some sites are only accepting symptomatic individuals and essential workers with or without symptoms. Some require an order from a health care provider. Others do not have such prerequisites. Some conduct drive-up testing and others are walk-up only. I have been hesitant to go, and more so after reading this blog post. I think Alizabeth raises valid points, and here’s my two cents.

    My concern about the exposure while standing on line for walk-up locations and the physical discomfort of the actual test is compounded by my concern that there may be asymptomatic non-essential workers who believe that testing negative will somehow provide reassurance that they can return to normalcy, which is a delusional and dangerous mindset.

    I have not read or heard any guidance from the government about exactly what a negative result signifies. First of all, I can be tested negative today and pick up the virus tomorrow. Is the intent to test on a regular basis until there is a vaccine? Secondly, do people who test negative feel they have license to stop wearing masks? Personally, I would be more comfortable if they kept their masks on since it has been said the intent of wearing masks is not so much self-protection as it is to protect the public from the virus we may carry. Testing negative is not immunity.

    It seems to me that testing sites are promoted for statistical purposes so the local governments can gauge how widespread the disease is in their areas in order to expedite a return to normal. Let’s be honest. Will that ever happen, or is it time to accept a new normal?

    I am curious. If you have been tested negative, did it change your behavior? Do you plan to be tested again?

    Liked by 1 person

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