COVID-19 Day 6: What it’s like to get tested

Pre-screening for Covid-19 testing ©NBC News

Pre-screening for Covid-19 testing ©NBC News

I’m sharing a first-hand account from my friend, who lives near Miami, FL. His experiences trying to get tested for COVID-19 have been more painful than the actual virus. His symptoms have overall been mild, treated with cold and cough medicine (it’s a good idea to check your medicine cabinet and make sure you’re stocked up).

His advice,  “DO NOT GET TESTED UNLESS YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS, OR BEEN EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WHO HAS THE VIRUS, OR BEEN IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN OUT OF THE COUNTRY.” Given the hassles and the danger from exposure by other patients at an ER, that’s advice worth heeding.

My quest to get tested for Covid-19.

March 16, 2020 by Mark Sierens

I wanted to take time to tell everyone what it was like to get tested for Covid-19.

Part 1: The search for information.

This was perhaps the most difficult part of the entire process. I started at 3:00pm EST when I was contacted by Uber recommending I get tested. I also had a dry cough at that point.

3:15pm
Symptoms: Dry Cough

I started this ordeal by going to the computer and searching for Covid-19 testing locations. Since the announcement just came out of possible drive up testing sites, that dominated all search results. This made finding accurate information on where to get tested hard to find.

3:45 PM
Symptoms: Dry Cough

I gave up trying to locate testing location information online. I called my insurance company. They gave me the number to my Doctor’s office. Called the doctor’s office and got a secretary that gave me no information for me to move on. She did not inform me of if they were testing or where to go to get tested.

4:00pm
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, slight fever, aches in all of my joints.

Now that I was starting to get a fever I was concerned. I am now hoping that I have the flu and not the coronavirus. There is more of a need now then ever to get tested. I called Memorial Hospital in Hollywood to ask if they are testing. The operator said “I do not know if we are or not. For Covid-19 we are asking patients to please call Broward Health department, or go to memorialdocnow.com.

4:15pm
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, slight fever, aches in all of my joints.

I decided to try memorialdocnow.com

first. I filled out my information and hit submit. I tried to call Broward County Coronavirus hotline, and was on hold for 35 minutes and the line disconnected.5:50pm
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, slight fever, aches in all of my joints.

I took some Tylenal to take care of the fever but we had no cough medicine. I received a call from who I believe was from Memorial health. I am not sure but she was a Nurse Practitioner. After her questionaire she confirmed over the phone that my symptoms were similar to Covid-19 and that she will need to call her CDC contact for the next steps. She would call me back soon.

6:32pm
Symptoms: dry cough, aches in all of my joints.

The NP called back to say that the CDC wants me tested and to call another number to Broward infectious disease control. I called the number and after ringing for a minute it would go to voicemail. I tried calling several times, I did leave a message but now it was time to find a place by hell or high water.

7:10pm
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, slight fever, aches in all of my joints.

After many searches online for an answer of who was testing I saw a comment on a web page that said she just went to the ER to get tested. I now had a plan. I called Memorial health back and asked to speak with the ER. The operator tried to convince me to not talk to the ER that they had the same information. I was skeptical.

I get transferred to the ER and I get my first straight answer. Memorial Hospital is testing. Simply come to the ER you will see a tent outside go there. HOWEVER it is very important to only come if you have some symptoms of the virus. We are not testing everyone, only people who are sick, been out of the country in the last 60 days, been in contact with someone who has been out of country in the last 14 days, or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

I met the illness portion and been in contact with people who have traveled internationally. Driving for uber should include hazard pay.

7:35pm
Symptoms:Headache , dry cough, aches in all of my joints.

I arrive at Memorial Health. They have a tent set up outside doing triage to people who are sick with COvid-19 symptoms. Other issues were let in the door.

I get checked in by the nurse and my vitals are taken.
BP 130/87
O2″ 96%
Temp 97.3
Pulse 91

I explain my symptoms and why I was there. The nurse was advising people that they are not testing everyone. I could wait or come back another day. Also within a day or two that the drive up testing should be open. I explained that I have an immunocompromised kid at home and that I have been exposed to out of state/country travelers. He agreed I should wait to see the doctor. I waited in the chairs in the tent outside of the ER.

8:41
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

A group of people showed up to get tested. They were demanding to be tested, none were sick, one even claimed it was his right to get tested. The nurse explained with that tired and exasperated voice on why they would not be tested. They were still insisting to be tested. I came out and said “Well I have been here two hours and no one has been brought in yet. The group left shortly after.

10:24
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

I got taken to a room to see a doctor. I sat in the isolation room with the door closed and waited.

11:17
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

An NP comes in and does a quick check. She looks at my throat and says they will be doing the Covid-19 test.

11:38pm
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

Nurse comes in to administer the test. She informs me it will feel a bit uncomfortable. The takes a small plastic rod that is curved at the end with small bristles. Her statement of uncomfortable was an understatement. I jerked my head back.

“Are you going for a brain tissue sample?” I asked. She laughed and replied that if it hurt she was doing her job right as she had to get far back into the nasal cavity.

I was told that the test would take 24 hours.

11:45
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

I saw my friend Ogre Irish walk by my door. He works there and we did a good impression from Wrath of Khan on the glass door. The nurse was not amused.

12:05am
Symptoms: Slight chills, dry cough, headache, aches in all of my joints.

Discharged from the hospital and went home. I was given tamaflu and a cough suppressant. CVS was closed so I had the wife drop it off at CVS in the morning .

Afterthroughts:

The lack of information on where to go to get tested is disturbing. The emphasis should be for those who are sick or exposed only but trying to get straight information is troublesome.

My nose still hurts today.

My wife now has to work from home until my results come in to protect the office. I do not disagree with this at all.

I will post an update with my test results tomorrow.

In short if you need to get tested go to an ER. Only get tested if you are showing symptoms. Exposure enough is not a reason to get tested as you could test negative and still be infected.

Update:

I forgot to add that from when I started to feel symptoms the speed at which the other symptoms started to show was really fast. It honestly surprised me.

For quarantine you do not need to stay in your house or room. You can go outside in your yard and such. Just do no got to places where other people are. If you have a yard it is good to go outside and sit in it for a bit or do some yard work. Gt those outside chores or projects done. You do not need to stay bedridden unless you know you feel that sick that you must.

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