Last Wednesday night my throat was getting scratchy. Thursday morning I woke up with a fever. In ordinary times, I would have gone to work. These are not ordinary times, so I didn’t.
The cough came. The fever came and went (I thought I was bad weighing myself multiple times a day, but that’s nothing compared to how many times I take my temperature.) The burning sensation in my chest came, and stayed. I got winded walking to the end of my street (maintaining distance) with my husband. I didn’t have a good feeling about this.
But I knew that getting a test was next to impossible. I’m super lucky – I have a phenomenal primary care provider, and I am able to send her messages through the health care facility’s patient portal. She would either email or call me, we’d discuss my symptoms, and she’d tell me I didn’t meet the guidelines for testing.
What are these guidelines? Who really knows? I have not traveled internationally. I have not had contact with a known COVID19 patient. However, with our country NOT doing widespread testing, how could I possibly know whether I’ve had contact with a known patient? Kind of the same way I could get access to my original birth certificate if my birth parents were dead, but since I don’t know who they are, I can’t. I get it. Whatever.
Last night I came very close to going to the ER. The pain in my chest was getting more uncomfortable, I was really fatigued, and I was getting a little short of breath. Apparently, not short enough – when we called and talked to the on-call doctor, he said that my ability to talk in complete sentences without losing my breath meant that it was not likely they would admit me, or send me for testing, and would just send me home to self-quarantine (or isolate, or maintain distance.) Since I’ve been doing that since last Thursday anyway, I didn’t bother going. He sent a note to my PCP.
She called me this morning, but she told me that according to the guidelines she had, I still didn’t qualify. She encouraged me to see if I could go to one of the drive-through centers, so I decided to call.
I called and got through to the clinical command center. I talked to a representative who asked me the standard questions, and agreed with my analysis of the question regarding contact with a known COVID19 person. He was leaning towards telling me to just keep doing what I was doing, until he asked about other conditions – and apparently having sleep apnea and using a CPAP machine was just enough to get me over the line to be sent for a test. He transferred me over to schedule the tele-health visit and I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally someone picked up, and then the system dropped the call.
I had a conference call for work, so the timing of the dropped call worked. I called back 1 hour, 7 minutes and 53 seconds ago. How do I know such a precise number? Because I’m on hold again. The person who answered the phone at the clinical command center told me “the system has been doing that all day” when I told him what had happened.
So I wait. And I apologize to everyone who I may have been in contact with early last week. The contact tracing on me, if they are still doing that, is not going to be fun. But that won’t happen without a test, and I’m still on hold.
Update at 4:23 p.m.: Finally got to talk to someone to schedule my appointment. First it was Thursday morning. Then it was moved up to tomorrow afternoon, which I appreciate.
Kathy Flaherty lives in Newington.