If you read my last blog post, I described my first week of living with the Corona Virus symptoms. I promised to update everyone with my COVID-19 test results. I have since learned that it really doesn’t matter if I tested positive or negative and this is why.
My symptoms in week 2
I have continued to have my temperature fluctuate between 37.6 and 38.5 Celsius for the second week. That’s 14 days of a low-grade fever. I continued to battle fatigue, continued to have a dry “asthmatic” cough, continued to be short of breath. My heart raced and I felt lightheaded if I got up too quick. The muscles between my ribs on my chest and in my back ached from the strain of breathing.
On Monday March 30, my breathing was so labored, and I got so tired of breathing that I went to Urgent Care. Luckily, my oxygen saturation was 99% and my lungs were clear. The only real concern was my heart rate at 100 beats per minute. The doctor asked that I increase my inhalers and continue to get better at home.
On Thursday April 2, my COVID-19 test came back negative. The public health nurse suggested I speak to my family doctor about my persistent symptoms.
What my doctor had to say
“This could be a false negative or the seasonal flu.” She said that unless the test was deep enough to make me cough (which it didn’t) then it could be a false negative. Either way, there is a protocol for people with Coronavirus symptoms that persist beyond two weeks and I was started on antibiotics. Continue to take my inhalers, continue to self-isolate, call her back in 4 days if I haven’t improved. The test results didn’t matter for my course of treatment.
Why the COVID-19 test is giving us very little info
Nothing has changed as a result of my test. I am not any clearer on what is actually ailing me. I am not miraculously cured. I cannot kiss and hug my kids and none of us can leave the house. Can you imagine the way I have felt for the past two weeks if my asymptomatic husband went grocery shopping and brought home either the flu or Coronavirus or something else that I don’t already have? It would surely kill me.
My test didn’t inform our medical system at all. I get to sit in the statistic pile of over 98% of people tested in Alberta who came back negative. I wasn’t tested for influenza, so I don’t get counted in those statistics if I do have the flu. Instead of having scientific data to use to advocate for the flu shot, we have anecdotal “it was a bad flu season” that will be overshadowed by COVID-19. And, if this is a false negative, not only do I not get counted, medical science learns nothing from my symptoms, and I don’t get counted in the number of cases that have recovered. Not to mention that someone with milder symptoms and a false negative can be spreading this everywhere.
I have some personal lessons I need to sit with including my impatience with being sick for so long. I had a few people lovingly refer to the complications “at my age” which completely threw me for a loop. I don’t feel old physically! But the reality is that I am nearing the half-century mark. My mind may feel like it’s still 30 but maybe I need to listen to what my body has to say too. Slowing down to listen to my body is definitely a new habit.
My lessons for you: Get your flu shot. Take the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes available. Wash your hands and physically distance yourself from others. Rest when you need to rest and practice good mental health hygiene too. And, as always, be loving and kind.