I Was Tested for COVID-19 Today

**UPDATE** I got my test results back yesterday morning, and they were NEGATIVE for COVID-19. I saw the dentist today and she gave me a referral for an endodontist. Now to find one that takes my Medicaid and who is actually performing root canals!

Background: I broke a tooth this past week and planned to just suck it up until things calmed down with the pandemic or until my filling appointment came in July. (Yes, I know I’m an idiot and that I don’t have the sense God gave geese.) It got so painful on Thursday that I called the community health clinic to see if they could get me in emergently. I checked their website and saw that they were only seeing emergency cases… which I was. They couldn’t get me in on Friday, but they made an appointment for me this morning at 10:15. I was unnerved about going in because

I arrived at 10:00 wearing my medical-grade mask and one of the receptionists stepped outside to do the screening. (There was nobody in the waiting room, which I was heartened to see because the clinic usually serves a part of the population who doesn’t believe in COVID-19.) I made the mistake of being honest and told them that I was having allergy symptoms… because I am and someone was cutting grass near me, so I was getting a bit sniffly. That set off their red flags, and the dental part of the clinic refused to see me until I could be medically-cleared. The medical staff told me that in order to see me, I would have to become their patient and transfer all my care to them. (The big hospital system in town takes my Medicaid, so I’m their patient. They just don’t have a dentist associated with them.) My alternatives were to wait until Monday and go to the drive-thru testing at the college or to go to the Acute Respiratory Clinic run by the hospital system. I opted for the Acute Respiratory Clinic, so I grabbed coffee (because I hadn’t had any in a few days) and headed there.

When I got there, a nurse in a face shield, Tyvek suit, mask, and booties was screening people in the parking lot. When I told her the situation, she cleared me to enter the clinic and commented that she was glad I was wearing a mask. Another nurse dressed similarly went down the hall to see if the doctor wanted to swab me, and they did. (The rationale was that they wanted to make sure I could get the tooth taken care of, and this would serve to clear me.) I was escorted to an exam room, my vitals were taken, and the nurse laid out some gloves and hospital-grade disinfecting wipes so I could disinfect my purse in the car. A doctor with a cheerful face checked me out, and she ordered the test after joking that we really need to talk to the pandemic council about scheduling pandemics during allergy season. (To nobody’s surprise, I had no fever, my vitals were excellent, and my lungs sounded incredibly good for someone with allergy asthma.) Another nurse took me outside to the tent where she did the swab.

This is the swab, by the way:

Yes, that is really what happens.

She had me lower my mask to access my nose but cover my mouth because she said it would make me cough. (She was right.) It was an incredibly unpleasant and peculiar sensation. Unlike the uncomfortable tickly feeling of an influenza swab, this one feels like intense pressure but not pain. (If I had to pick between the two, this one was less horrible, mostly because they only have to do one nostril and it doesn’t feel like you want to jab something into your nose to stop the tickly feeling.) I was told that my results would be back within 48 hours, told not to leave the house until I get them, given my after-visit summary and information on the test, and sent on my way.

When I got home, I cleaned my purse, my coffee cup, my steering wheel, my car’s seat, and my cell phone with the hospital-grade cleaning wipes before getting into the house, washing my hands (OBVIOUSLY!), and taking a shower. I’m going to toss my flip-flops in the trash because it’s not worth putting them through the washer on hot (like I did with my clothes and towel), and I’m keeping my distance more from my parents until I get the test results back. Getting tested put me at greater exposure to COVID-19 than my regular life did, but I’m glad that the community health clinic is taking this seriously. It makes me feel better about having to have them work on my mouth and (likely) extract the tooth.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Sea Mar Dental for taking this so seriously as well as to Dr. Nona Hanson and the team from Skagit Regional Health that was staffing the Acute Respiratory Clinic today. Everyone was incredibly professional and positive today, and that really made a difference.