Diagnosis: COVID-19??

By Jenna Shelton
jshelton@lc.edu

If you are anything like me then recently every ache, sniffle and cough makes me think maybe I might be coming down with COVID-19. Even when I am totally aware that I am simply choking on a drink of water, in the back of my mind I quickly go over the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus to convince myself that I need to call my doctor.

Don’t worry, I don’t actually call my doctor because I swallowed water incorrectly, if anything I am doing all I can to stay away from “hotspots” where I could be potentially exposed to the virus. Except for this week, I had to go in for my annual checkup or I would not be able to continue with the regular maintenance medications that I have taken for years.

Of course, the doctor’s office has precautions in place to avoid possible exposure to the virus at this time so when I arrived I was met with a sign on the door informing me that I needed to call and tell them I was there. After the customary 5-10 minute wait of the lovely song “Last Christmas” by the 1980s band Wham! that they have been playing year-round since Christmas two years ago, I finally got through and was put on hold again to wait for the intake nurse to ask if my personal details were correct and if I had symptoms or been around any suspected or positive cases of COVID. 

After all that I was finally admitted to the building but could not go farther than the vestibule before my temperature was taken. Obviously, since I have kept myself squirreled away at my house in the country and am avoiding going in public, my temperature was normal. I was immediately taken into an exam room, bypassing the waiting room completely.

Honestly, it was the fastest I have ever gotten into an exam room at this office and would happily go through all these precautions again to make sure that I don’t bring any germs home to my family. After going through all the regular motions of my checkup I brought up the fact that earlier this year my family and I were extremely ill and questioned if that could have been coronavirus.

My doctor was sure that because of how early in the year we were sick, it was a slim chance that we could have been infected as the virus wasn’t in this area at that time. But then I informed him that we had spent weeks in Chicago and came home literally days before they started with cases in Chicago, only to get sick within a week of coming home.

Along with the symptoms that we had and the fact that we had multiple tests for influenza and strep throat that were always negative, and that our illness lasted almost 2 months solid, my doctor felt that it would be a good idea to have an antibody test done. 

Antibody tests for COVID test the blood to determine if there was ever a presence of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibody IgG. I had my blood drawn in the room and was told that my antibody test would be back in 24-72 hours, depending on how busy they are. 

I was warned that even if my test came back positive, meaning that I had COVID at some point, there was not enough information on this disease and that I would still need to take precautions;  just because I had it once, it did not mean I couldn’t get it again and infect others. 

The very next morning I was notified that I was negative, I had not had COVID, even though I was sick as a dog in the spring, it was most likely some other virus going around at that time. While I was extremely relieved, considering some of the horrific long-term effects that are being discovered as people start to recover, I was still a bit disappointed.

I know that sounds completely crazy, why in the world would I have wanted COVID? I guess in my mind, the same mind that tries to stay away from current COVID news otherwise I will have a hypochondriac fit, I think of COVID the same way one would think of chickenpox. Once you’ve had it, you can’t get it again but I know that we don’t know enough about this pandemic to say that with anything less than 100% confidence. 

I truly am grateful that we have not contracted the coronavirus and will continue to do whatever I can to ensure that we stay as safe as we possibly can while trying to start the fall semester as normally as possible. Stay safe and make sure to wash your hands, please wear a mask and keep your distance from others!

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