“POPPED POSITIVE” FOR COVID-19 PERSPECTIVE BY L IFF LUTHRINGER PHOTO BY KARA HUMPHREY
T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY
“POPPED POSITIVE” FOR COVID…
So, You’ve got the COVID. NowWhat?
B Y L I F F L U T H R I N G E R
DAY 1 I notice a peculiar cough; It’s kind of dry. It was Tuesday… or maybe I had it Monday? I can’t rule it out, but can’t quite remember either. DAY 2 Wednesday, I sneeze probably four or five different times during the day. When I sneeze it’s at least three, and often as many as six sneezes… in a row! Also, on Wednesday, I have lunch with my father-in- law. He’s one of my favorite people on Earth. Although he’s older than me, he’s likely in better shape, but still, he is a septagenarian. That makes him part of the high- risk group that can be especially hard hit should they contract the COVID. Should I get tested? There’s only about a gazillion things I’d rather do than go to a doctor’s office and wait to be tested for something I don’t even think I have. While a gazillion is a very large number, I’m only slightly trafficking in hyperbole. After being in a rather cruddy mood, while I’m home from work, around my family, trying to decide what to do, I finally decide to go get tested. My wife, Tammie, asks, “Want me to ride with you?” I say, “No.” She responds (with that sideways look and half smile that lets me know she’s glad), “Okay.” I’m at the clinic. I see a buddy walking out. He’s getting tested. After I get a Paul Bunyan size, single- sided Q-Tip stuck up my left nostril deep enough, and
long enough, to make my eyes water, the nurse sticks it up my RIGHT NOSTRIL! Don’t worry, you can handle it. It’s not to be feared or anything, but consider yourself warned. Did I mention they do this procedure outside? They say it’s in case you cough. I think it’s in case you scream. Anyway, be prepared. So, I’m told to go sit in my truck and they will come advise me about my results. I see my buddy. I walk over to his truck. We talk across a full parking space. His daughter has been exposed, and they have been together, so he’s getting tested. We have a minute to catch up, waiting for our negative tests results, so we can get back to our normal mundane lives (of not seeing each other). The nurse walks out. She is walking toward my truck. My buddy notices. He asks, “Who are you looking for?” It’s me. I say, “I’m me.” She says, “Get to your truck!” I say, “Okay! We weren’t close to one another.” She says, “You popped positive! Now, get to your truck!” Under my breath I respond, “O-freaking-K!” Wait. What? Popped positive—that seems an interesting way to advise someone they just tested positive for the virus that is shutting down the year 2020. Wait, maybe not… 2020 actually has an opportunity to be the year we see a social movement that is well past due… One that could go a long way towards global racial indifference… One that could even potentially make everyone forget a global pandemic that happens only once in three generations… Anyway…
Texarkana Monthly has edited this perspective for content.
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T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY
While I’m waiting (another two hours, by the way), I call Tammie. She’s coming to get tested, and so is my stepson Hank. I make a list of everyone I can think of that I’ve been in contact with in the past 14 days. I have to let them know. I mean, I will wait until that doctor talks to me and tells me the possibility of the test being false, but I need to be prepared. There were 38 people. Thirty-eight people came to mind that I had been close enough to have a conversation. Some I’d shaken hands with. Some I had hugged. I mean, everyone was relaxing a bit. If a man puts his hand out to shake, it’s hard not to put yours out too. If a pretty girl wants to hug me… I mean? So, I let them all know. I got a lot of texts back from people, mainly expressing concern about my well-being. After being happy to hear I was doing well, I’m sure everyone started thinking about every interaction they have had with me in the past two weeks. I shook Hershel’s hand, I shared an ice cream spoon with Tammie, and I may have taken a sip of Josh or Joe’s drink on the boat. Oh crud! I hugged Wanda, one of my dearest friends’ mom. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I just love her. I had to hug her! But I HUGGED Wanda, oh, man! I got it. It’s cool. I’ll just fight the you-know-what out of it. I’ll either win or I’ll lose; I’m betting on me, but I sure don’t want to have given it to anyone else. I also need to notify everyone at work. We’ve been on a remote work plan for months now, but six or seven others and I have continued to go to the office. It’s an office that can hold 200, mind you. It’s been easy to social distance and getting out of the house each day has been keeping me sane. So, notify the boss, notify all seven people at the office, and notify human resources. They shut down the office to disinfect the entire place. Everyone I’ve been in contact with has to quarantine for 14 days, simply for being in my presence. Now, I’m working from home. Work is just as busy as before, but it’s not too bad. I can sleep a little later. I can work in my underwear if I want to (I don’t). I can walk outside and check on my yard, my dog, my whatever, whenever I want. I’m not sure yet, but I think I could get used to this. DAY 3 As I’m still asymptomatic, I take another swab test at Bowie County Health Center. It’s administered by the National Guard. I’m told the results will be back in two to five days. DAY 5 I take a blood test on Monday. The blood test checks for antibodies for COVID-19. I get those results back in 48 hours. Negative. Wait, what? Negative. So, I don’t have it? Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. Here is the best theory I’ve come across… The quick 15-minute test (that actually takes two-and-a-half
hours) is for any Coronavirus, not just COVID-19. I had or have something. There is some congestion. Maybe I had A Coronavirus, just not THE Coronavirus. The blood tests look for antibodies for COVID-19. Either I’ve not developed antibodies and fortunately am still asymptomatic, or I don’t have it. I’ll know more when I get my second swab test results back. In the meantime, I find out one of the 38 has tested positive, and he’s not doing well. He’s home feeling really bad, oh, man! At this point, I don’t know if I gave it to him, he gave it to me, or if there is no connection whatsoever. Hopefully, the second swab test will give me some answers. DAY 6–11 Another week comes and goes. I clean out a storage unit we have. I mean, I have to do something. Tammie lists several of the items as “free to a good home.” I wear gloves when opening the storage unit and touch nothing we are giving away. We have some folks come by to pick up the stuff. I stand back with my mask on and stay out of the way. I may not even have this thing, but I can’t chance giving it to anyone else, and they all seem to appreciate it. So, it’s 90 degrees and I’m wearing my mask and gloves and standing out in the sun while the people load the stuff. More than being hot and uncomfortable, I feel like an outcast and a schlump for not helping with any of the moving. That’s how it is, though… at least for now. When will I hear back on that second
swab test? DAY 13
I’ve still not heard from the National Guard. Trump did say (facetiously?) that he told the Department of Health to “slow the testing down.” He was just joking, right? That is what he said though, and we can believe Trump… right? I get another test at Wal-Mart. It’s a drive-thru thing. You get online and make an appointment and it goes pretty fast. You’re supposed to get the results in 48 hours. But wait, what if this comes back positive? Am I quarantined another 14 days? How does this work? After 14 days, are you good? In fact, are you a special super dude that can be around anyone now? I’ve either had it and made it my [obscenity], or I didn’t have it and it was a false positive. Or… well, I don’t know what the other possibility is. How will people look at me now? I sure couldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to get too close to me. I’m asymptomatic. I’ve had four tests and two results—one positive, one negative. I’m going to practice social distancing. I will avoid contact with others and do my best to watch what I touch and do… I will do my best.
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