How to rock a Covid test like a coward.

(Click part 1 to see how we got here.)

I’ve heard Covid tests are a pain, but I’ve always been pretty good at pain. I mean, I always look straight at the needle in blood tests and never flinch. My parents say that as a child I didn’t even cry for vaccines. Heck, I would beg my mom to take my blood so I could take vials of it to school for show and tell (teachers were NOT impressed). Well… I’m here to tell you that having a pole jammed up your nose is totally unlike getting your blood taken.

Showing up for a Covid test is truly depressing. Everyone looks like they’re gonna die, not because of symptoms but because of the anxiety in getting the results. And apart from hypochondriacs that like being tested, most everyone is there because they were either in close proximity to someone that got sick, or they think they were. Or as in my case, because either spontaneous contagion is a real thing, or because despite what the news says, you can get it while you drive by to pick up McDonald’s take-out. Waiting for tests is not a pretty site.

Anywhoo… after what felt like an eternity I was ushered into the slaughterhouse where I was told to open wide. A few seconds later, the nurse was done. “Well, that wasn’t so bad. I wonder what all the fuzz is about.” To which the nurse replied “Oh, we’re not done. Do you have a nostril preference?”. Ughh, what? Seriously, who does? I shrugged and randomly pointed to my right nostril, because I’m right handed and I guessed that one was stronger. I was told to exhale, and the nurse jammed a giant Q-tip right up there– no warning. As the seconds slowly crawled by, I felt a little queasy but survived. I regained my composure and was starting to flex my biceps, when my torturer says “now, the left nostril”. You’re kidding right?

The long story is I exhale, and she goes to work again. It’s after what felt like minutes that she says, I’m almost done. I’m like… what’s she looking for, gold? Seriously, I can’t breathe and I’m about to go into panic. What if I inhale with that stick up my nose? Will I get brain damage? Is she prepared to revive me if I have acute nasal blockage (is that even a real thing)? But then magically, the pain stopped, and all I heard was an angelic voice that said “now breathe deeply”. I’m like… that’s nice, just like yoga class. “Breathe deeply, you’ll be alright”. Alright? I feel great! Wait, I don’t remember lying down…

I started rolling my eyes around trying to understand what had happened, while I got interrupted: “Are you OK, I’m going to get some help?”. I’m *thinking* “wait, what? Help from what? Are the Covid aliens finally invading us?”, but all I could blurb out was “creo que me desmayĆ©“.

The clever reader may notice at this point that I’m speaking Spanish and the nurse does not. And for all I try, I can’t speak anything else but Spanish. I keep going, but in Spanish… “It’s ok, I fainted. No seriously, it’s just a vasovagal.” Yes, it’s puzzling that I can somehow remember “vasovagal”, but I can’t remember English or Catalan or anything else I’m supposed to know how to speak? It was a bit like that Bedazzled Spanish scene, but in reverse.

Movember: Anyone still perplexed that I can only speak Spanish?

I go through a minute of trying to calm the nurse down, who is unfortunately in full-on panic mode. I mean, I assume she had to go from poking at my nose with a full hazmat suit, to making sure I didn’t fall on top of her. “It’s OK, I’m clearly qualified to tell you this– because I have a lot of friends who are doctors and they told me what a vasovagal syncope is”. No response… not even a hint of smile, and to make matters worse she leaves me alone to my thoughts in this makeshift of a bed, where the full embarrassment of the situation finally sinks in.

A few minutes pass by, and she comes back with reinforcements that shine a light in my eyes and ask me my name. I must’ve given the right response because I was told I’d be OK– that some people have very strong responses to extreme emotional distress. To which I proudly responded “oh, so this happens all the time?”.

“No sir, you’re the first one. Let us know when you want to complete the exam.”

“You’re kidding me, right? No way! I’ll just preemptively quarantine myself. Besides, my partner is in the other room getting tested. I’ll just take a Covid test by proxy. If she comes out negative, I’m good to go. Seriously, I’m on leave… I have plenty of Lego’s and books at home. There’s no need to leave the house in 3 months. Buh bye!”

“Wait, sir… you can’t just…” *hurried steps echoing in the distance*

So yes, after a decade of globetrotting, I’m clearly still a coward. (Note: if you click on the previous link for context, bear in mind that partners and protagonists in the link suffer from the confusion at the start of season 4 of Fresh Prince with Aunt Viv.)

I guess we’ll be traveling to places we can drive to, or require no nasal tests!

p.s. Wait, now Alba can tell the difference between code on my screen and blog writing? I mean, I had stackoverflow opened on another window to distract her, and she still walks by and says “whatcha writing?”– all innocent like. How does she know?! I swear, one of my readers is a snitch. (I’m looking at you Carla B!)

p.s.s. Details have been slightly altered to protect the innocent.