By Jackie Deal
It’s so simple, right? You’re exposed to Covid 19 (Delta variant maybe), so you get tested. If positive, you quarantine, fret and stew. If negative, you go out and celebrate. Right?
Nope, it ain’t so simple. We were in the Emergency Depart (ED, no longer ER): multiple waiting rooms, multiple hallways, multiple exam rooms, multiple patients and few staff. (Would you want to work in a pandemic??)
“Patient” has just come in by ambulance, b.t.w., if you want to be seen quickly, come in by ambulance don’t drive yourself in. Patient’s wife and I expect to become old (?) and haggard waiting, after all this is rightly called a Waiting Room. But in just minutes a Nurse-Type appears at the locked, gated door and beckons to us. She whispers “He’s positive for Covid.” Ever have your entire world collapse in just seconds?
Immediately into former-nurse mode, I demand, “When and where can we be tested for Covid?” Nurse-Type replies, “Have you any symptoms?” A question that would soon be all too familiar. Being the honest soul that I am, I replied, “No.” Nurse-Type smiled (smirked?) “We only test those with symptoms. And you have to wait 3-5 days.”
Now I’m a volunteer with the hospital, they gave me my two vaccinations when they vaccinated staff, I am not to be deterred. “Come on” I whispered to Wife. “We’re going to Employee Health”. Down the hall to the main entrance where a volunteer Gendarme-Type collars us “You can’t go down the hall. No one can go down the hall.” I wave my volunteer badge, “We’re going to Employee Health.” “Oh, no,” Gendarme replies, “Have the Admission Desk call them.”
Admission Desk Guardian calls, shakes her head, “They are too-oo busy. You need to call for an appointment.” Volunteer Gendarme is busy with another entrant so I take off down the hall. “Hey, come back here!” Now I have a choice: Run or Obey. My arthritic hips say NO to running so I slink back like a wee child caught stealing a cookie.
Thoroughly humiliated, we escape to the car. I get busy on the phone. I call my PCP (Personal Care Physician): “Do you have any symptoms?” Still the honest type, I say “No”. “We only test those with symptoms.” Call to the Umpqua Clinic. Same answer. Ah-hah! Way back when I had a drive-through test at Rite-Aid Pharmacy so I call them. “Do you have any symptoms?” Now I’m a Baptist minister’s daughter, good habits die slowly, so I honestly reply, “NO”. “We only test symptomatic. You need to go on line, make an appointment and it now takes seven (7) days for the results!”
I hang up. Remember the good ole days when you could slam the receiver down on someone’s ear?
Oh, how I miss those days. Pressing the red button no matter how violently, just doesn’t do it. What now? In desperation I call my Volunteer Comandante (she’s really a lovely lady) and cry on her zoom-shoulder. She texts me back: “You can get tested at the Cow Creek Clinic.”
Cow Creek Clinic? Isn’t that for American Indians, why should they test a white person (Imagine Western music fading to a scene of a cowboy on horseback, rifle ready prowling the West.) I call and the sweetest voice answers, “This is Holly, how may I help you?” Again the explanations and Holly says, “Well, we prefer to test those with symptoms first. Do you have any symptoms?”
This is it. The moment of truth. “Coff, coff, will that do?” Holly giggles, “We can see you tomorrow!” I push a little more (I can be very pushy) and get an appointment for Wife along with mine. Two hours early the next day, (after all it is 40 miles) we head for Canyonville. It’s a lovely day, beautiful scenery, wasted on three (another exposed friend joined us) agitated females.
Canyonville: home of Seven Feathers Casino, would that we were going there. But we’re going behind the casino onto narrow winding roads we didn’t know existed. Behind parking lots and storage buildings to a neat tan government-style structure. There’s a drive-through testing site but of course, I’m sure we’re entitled to better treatment than that so we go inside the building. Then back out to the drive-through. Another lesson in humility.
Everyone was very nice and competent. The nasal swabs did not penetrate the brain as we’d been led to believe. In fact they scarcely hurt; my eyes watered a bit and I felt like sneezing. “There! Symptoms” I cried.
We waited, fifteen minutes has never seemed so long but at last the sweet little darling came out with three official papers. Calling each of us by name she slowly, savoring every moment, presented us with our diplomas. “Negative.” “Negative”. “Negative.”
Now to find out: do we test again in 3-5 days to catch any lazy viruses? Do we quarantine until then? (Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow, creep on in this petty pace). Tomorrow I’ll start calling again, looking for more answers.