I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling unwell. It started with a cough, deep aches that I genuinely felt through my bones, chills and a tightness in my chest.
I sat with it for a while, and suddenly started to remember everywhere I’d been since lockdown was lifted. Several coffee shops, several supermarkets, two restaurants and two bars. Yeah… that feels like a lot.
I then started to remember every item I’d picked up and I started to worry. It’s amazing how many things you actually touch day to day.
Being in the at risk group, I thought it sensible to book a Covid test. I didn’t undertake this this lightly as I’ve seen the videos of nasal swabbing and thought ‘F that!‘ but you know what? I’d rather know and make sure I get help I need.
It’s very common for people with Muscular Dystrophy to develop respiratory issues, it’s even fatal for some sadly. This was my motivation for getting checked out.
I managed to book some time off work, an hour, that I would need to work back on my day off – thanks work! – and booked the test.
Booking a test
After filling out a eligibility form online I was directed to the UK GOVERNMENT CORONAVIRUS BOOKING site, which collected my details (I can hear the sphincters of conspiracy theorists the world over tightening) and advised me of the location of my nearest testing site.
I’d seen news stories of people having to travel hundreds of miles to test sites, my local test site was at Glasgow Airport, which is in Paisley weirdly, about 4.5 miles away. Lucky me?
I went online about 12PM and managed to get a slot for 3.30PM.
I booked the time off work and left at 3.15PM. Now, the site said my local drive-in test centre is at the airport, driving through and out of the terminal drop-off and navigating six roundabouts called that into question.
I arrived in a labyrinth of concrete and traffic cones. Signs everywhere told me DON’T OPEN YOUR WINDOW. It was like a scene from Outbreak but without the opportunity of meeting a White-faced capuchin.
A man in a hi-vis jacket typed my car registration into a PDA and shouted “Joseph!”. Three people call me that name, my mother, my doctor and the police, so it was strange to hear it from a day-glo stranger.
I nodded and he placed a plastic envelope on my windscreen and motioned me to move on. I joined a queue that snaked around and past a pit-stop of shipping containers. Again DON’T OPEN YOUR WINDOW, and a new sign NO PHOTOGRAPHY, TURN OFF YOUR DASHCAM. I’d actually recorded my trip but stopped filming here, this was frightening enough with the MIB showing up and neuralising me
I entered yet another queue and a lane number was shouted through my windshield. I was directed to queue three. The lane was split into two, like McDonalds but with the promise of my skull being probed at the end YAY!
Left, right, left, right. Cars were selected from each lane alternately. I watched the cars in front and started to squirm a bit.
What if I had this?
What if my family had this?
Even worse, what if I was the reason my family had this?
Would this shut down my daughter’s school or worse, Starbucks?
I was snapped from my admittedly overdramatic imaginings by another day-glo stranger.
I moved into place and was met by a girl dressed in black, wearing a white Boots t-shirt over the top. She smiled from behind her face covering and a face shield (eyes can smile) and greeted me like a happy euthanist.
She gave her name and explained that she would be swabbing the roof of my mouth, the back of my throat and my nose. The only comfort I felt was that my nose was last.
She gave me a tissue and ordered me to blow my nose. When we were sure the way was clear – it took a minute- she then started swabbing.
The back of my throat was tickly, the roof of my mouth, meh but the nasal swap. Jeez, I felt every millimetre of that thing as it ticked my nasal cavity and vanished inside my skull like an excitable spelunker.
My eyes started watering, I was desperate to sneeze but I couldn’t. If I sneezed it would launch back her way like a blow dart, and neither of us wanted to be part of that scene. My eyelid twitched like I was actually enjoying this, and the swab was withdrawn.
I thanked the girl, because I’m polite, not because I want that in my nose again. I was given my receipt, advised I’d hear back in 48 hours and sent off on my merry way, excited for another 6 hours of work! Yay
The results came the next morning by both text and email, far sooner than the maximum 48 hours. I still felt a bit crappy, and the wee one got a bonus day off school until we found whether or not I had tested positive.
It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it was also wasn’t as horrific as I’ve heard people say. Now excuse me while I go down a pint of hand gel.
Have you had a test recently? How did you find it?