I took a COVID-19 test. It was weird.
For months a nationwide demand grew for these tests while the federal government pointed the other direction and said, “Keep movin’, folks. Nothing to see here.” So, I was surprised only 98 people in our area signed up for one of the 200 tests offered.
Either people in my corner of the world are unnaturally healthy, or I’m one of the few paranoid hypochondriacs around here.
Yep, things were weird, and I was just getting started.
The health department set up a temporary testing center at the National Guard Armory. Soldiers in medical masks, like we were in the early minutes of a zombie movie, stood in a line to direct the few people who showed up. Was this all for COVID-19? Or for the zombie virus? What would happen if I tested positive for either?
I didn’t want to know.
A nurse, also in a mask, waved some kind of Star Trek device in my face. It was a thermometer. Running too hot is one of the symptoms of the pandemic virus that has a higher death toll than the Hundred Years’ War and, according to the movies, running too cold was a symptom of becoming a zombie. The nurse held up a clipboard and checked “no,” then went down her list.
But “no” for what?
“Are you experiencing a cough?” she asked.
Cough? Well, yeah. It’s allergy season, who isn’t?
“Yes,” I said, and she made a check.
“Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?”
Well, the mold count has been high. “Yes.”
“Chills? Muscle pain? Sore throat? Fatigue?”
My paranoid hypochondria kicked into I Saw A Documentary On A Disease That May Come From Aliens Called “Bloodsuckers from Outer Space” And I Think I Have It mode.
“Uh, a little, yeah.”
Check, check, check and check.
“A loss of taste or smell?”
My mind started to throb at this point. I could taste and smell fine. I also didn’t have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, but then again, my wife hasn’t cooked in weeks.
“No, none of that,” I said, although I didn’t know if that was good or bad.
She nodded. “One last question. Have you been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for the virus?”
The zombie virus? “Well, my neighbor was walking a little funny this morning.”
Another check, then she got down to business.
Have you ever had a colonoscopy? Being tested for COVID-19 is kind of like that but through the nose. The nurse produced a swab the size of a pool noodle, told me to stand still, then shoved it up my left nostril. I could feel the swab touch the back of my throat. Literally.
I coughed and everyone turned to look because coughing in today’s world is considered a verbal threat.
Then the nurse sent me home. Three days later someone called and said I was fine. I don’t know who it was. A nurse, maybe? The local health department? Van Helsing?
Or it could have been the CDC putting me on its “Not a Zombie: Do Not Shoot” list. Like I said, the whole thing was weird.
Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at jasonoffutt.com.