On Monday at 11:40am I had a video call with my doctor to talk about my exposure to Coronavirus and my newly developing symptoms (cough, a pressing/burning feeling in my chest).
By 1:40pm, I was being tested.
The video call connection was spotty. It was hard to hear the doctor. But eventually all of the pertinent information was virtually shared.
I told her my symptoms. She listened. Then she started speaking.
“So the CDC has strict criteria for testing,” she said. “You can only be tested if you’re hospitalized with symptoms.”
My heart sunk. I knew I wouldn’t get tested. I wasn’t in a hospital bed in critical condition (thank god). There’s no way they’d test me.
The doctor took a deep breath and continued. “They will also test if you’re symptomatic and have an underlying health condition. Or if you are symptomatic and have had known contact with a positive case. You fit in the latter category. So I’m going to send you for testing this afternoon.”
I was stunned. Testing? They have a test? For me? There’s testing? At last????
“OK,” I said.
“You’ll get a call with instructions soon,” the doctor said.
“OK, thank you,” I said. “Thank you for all that you’re doing right now. I can’t begin to imagine.”
She smiled grimly.
We said goodbye and ended the call.
My relief at finally getting tested was mingled with fear. Did I really want to know?
Yes. Yes I did. I had to know. Because my daughter is asthmatic. And my husband has lung problems. I needed to know so I can protect them. In fact, we all need to know. Especially if we were in contact with a known positive case. The only way to get a handle on this thing (besides social distancing) is broad and wide testing so we can isolate the known cases. So we can be proactive. So we can know what the hell is going on.
The call came within minutes. I was given an address in Palo Alto and was told to follow the signs when I got there.
When I pulled into the parking lot at Stanford’s urgent care clinic, I saw the first sign immediately. “Express Care Drive Through” with an arrow. I followed the arrow to another sign and another sign and another sign until I came to a tall parking structure. I began to drive in and then remembered my husband had gone skiing a few weeks before and had left the damn cargo carrier on the roof of my car. I couldn’t drive into the structure. It was too low. Or I was too high.
I had been calm up until this point, but I started to panic. There was a line of cars behind me. A line of people trying to pull in to get tested. A woman started yelling at me to get out of the way. But I was boxed in between the cars behind me and the low clearance in front of me.
I started cursing my husband.
I called him and started screaming. “How am I supposed to get this stupid thing off of my car???” He calmed me down and walked me through the steps. Grab the key out of the glove compartment. Unlock it. Lift the top up. Unscrew each bolt. Repeat on the other side.
Once it was unlocked, I couldn’t get it off. It was too bulky and awkward and heavy. It was a two-person job. The cars piled behind me had been slowly backing up and going into the structure through the exit lane. They were pissed. I was panicked. I started crying. It was too much. It was all too much.
A man in a face mask and gloves approached me.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
I looked at him. Should we be in contact? I might be contagious. He had been working in the parking lot with countless cars filled with suspected cases rolling by. We really shouldn’t be in contact.
But I needed help. I needed to get tested. My appointment time had long come and gone. So I accepted.
We stayed on opposite ends of the car, 6-feet apart, and lifted the heavy cargo box off the roof.
“Thank you,” I said. “You have no idea how you’ve helped me. Thank you so much.”
“Of course,” he said. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
I tried to shove the box into the back of my car, but it wouldn’t fit, so I abandoned it on the sidewalk, got back in my car, took a deep breath and started following the signs again.
Up, up, winding up the parking structure until I came to a group of three young men in face masks. I stopped and rolled down the window.
“Here for testing?” one young man asked. He was adorable. No older than 18. I wondered what on earth he was doing here.
“Yes,” I said.
“Follow those cones.”
I did as he instructed, drove around some columns, and pulled up to a table in the middle of the parking lot. A doctor and a nurse in full protective gear stood by ready and waiting. I rolled down my window.
“Hi,” the doctor introduced himself and the nurse. He reminded me of a dear friend who is also a doctor. “Name and appointment time, please?”
“Deva Dalporto. 1:40.”
He took out a vile and verified my birthdate on my driver’s license. Then he handed me a bunch of tissues and told me to blow my nose.
“OK, this isn’t going to be comfortable. I’m going to stick this way up your nasal cavity and give it 5 turns.”
“OK,” I said. I took a deep breath.
He did the procedure. It took about 2 seconds. Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn.
And that was it.
“They will call you with a positive result in 48 hours. If it’s negative you’ll get an email.”
It has now been 45 hours. I am sitting by my phone waiting. Praying for an email, and not a phone call.
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