My Experience with a COVID Scare
Since the coronavirus pandemic started back in March, I’ve been tested three different times (with three completely different testing methods, might I add) and luckily tested negative every single time.
Because of my experience in the summer with several coronavirus scares, I was terrified of getting it (and I still am!), so I made the choice to limit the people I come into contact with at Penn State the best I can. I only go to work and class, and hang out with a small group of friends.
As a worrisome person with pretty severe anxiety, every coronavirus ‘scare’ I’ve had in the past six months has taken a toll on my mental health, especially the one that happened earlier this month right after I returned to Penn State.
At my internship, there are only three of us in the office, we never take our masks off, and all of our desks are six feet apart, so I figured my chances of getting coronavirus at work was slim to none.
However, in the middle of only the second week of classes, I received a call that the other intern in the office tested positive for coronavirus. This gutted me; I had an internal dilemma of whether or not I was at risk and should get tested because I had never been within six feet of her in the few times we had met. Ultimately I decided to be safe and get tested.
Figuring out how to even get tested was the biggest hurdle in this situation. To put it bluntly, I think Penn State is doing a terrible job communicating their coronavirus policies and procedures to students that live off-campus, so it took me a lot of research to figure out how to even schedule a test.
After a strenuous search, I was finally able to figure out that I was supposed to get tested with University Health Services. Thankfully, there were some open appointments, so I got tested almost immediately the same day I found out about my exposure.
As I mentioned before, I’ve gotten tested twice before this, one with a nose swab only in my nostrils (which was completely painless) and the other I had to spit into a tube. This time, however, was the absolute worst. The nurse stuck a swab into my nose so far back that I seriously felt like it was touching my throat. That 30 second deep swab felt like an eternity of a feeling I can only describe as awkward and uncomfortable.
I’ll admit, it caused me to cry a little afterwards, but I really don’t know if it was because of the test or the fact that I was scared out of my mind that I had coronavirus.
My friend had gotten tested the day before and quickly received her results in TWO HOURS. I thought this was the norm, so I was confident I would receive mine the same night I got tested, too.
I checked. And checked. And checked. Sometimes four times every hour, and received no results. I really did try to sleep that night, but I found myself staring at the ceiling for hours on end as I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep a wink.
This went on for FIVE DAYS. It wasn’t until the third day that I received an email from Quest Diagnostics, saying there was a problem with my account, so my results would be delayed. Thinking I could immediately receive my results when I fixed my account, I did it right away.
My results didn’t come back for almost three days after I fixed everything, and mentally, it killed me. I had not felt any symptoms, and I knew in my mind that there was no way I would test positive, but I still felt that I had to follow the rules and stay home.
My friends were still hanging out with each other, which made me jealous and upset on the nights I forced myself to sit in my apartment by myself, but I knew I had to follow the rules and isolate just in case. I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I was the reason someone else got sick, so I made sure to isolate until I got my results, which took a serious toll on my mental health.
Finally, on day five I FINALLY received my results: they were NEGATIVE! A huge sigh of relief came over me, I finally felt like I could breathe. My anxiety subsided and I was finally able to see my friends, leave the apartment and go back to work without any worry.
While I was previously in a similar situation in the summer, this time was different. I was on my own without my family, with countless school and work responsibilities I had to keep up with, while feeling anxious, scared and alone. If anything, this taught me that I need to be more careful than I already am being because I did not want this to ever happen again.
And hopefully, it never has to happen again (one can dream). As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through Penn State students, I’m going to do my best to keep myself and everyone around me as safe as possible. But hey, I am three for three on negative coronavirus tests!