Recently, I visited my doctor’s office for a checkup and renewal of my medications.
I was surprised to see a sign outside the office: “You cannot enter the office unless you have had a COVID-19 test.” I have not been tested yet, even though at 63, I am technically in the high-risk category. I isolated in the beginning, as requested, and limited my exposure to the outside world. I work from home and we haven’t been to a restaurant for dinner since March.
My only venture outside of our Massapequa bubble on Park Lane was to Greenport for my nephew’s wedding, staying at the Thompson Manor Inn for two nights. The wedding ceremony (and dinner) was at the Soundview. To be on the safe side, my wife brought a set of sheets from home to put on the bed and sanitized the room when we got there. We even requested no maid service after our first night.
I’ve shown no symptoms before or after, but testing was required before seeing the doctor. To be honest, I’ve never gotten tested because maybe I really didn’t want to know the answer.
“No worries,” the receptionist told me, pointing a loaded thermometer gun at my head to confirm my temperature was 98.6, “We’ll do a test for you today.”
They ushered me into an exam room, where someone wearing a mask and green scrubs asked me to sit down. I inquired about how long it would take for me to get the results because I needed to see the doctor for my prescription renewal.
“About 15 minutes,” he said.
Fifteen minutes? I thought it took days to get test results back.
If you come up positive, then you get the full test and a long Q-Tip shoved up your nose to the back of your throat. I was hoping to avoid that, so the 15-minute waiting period was going to be torture.
As I sat waiting for the results, I could only think of my Uncle Anthony, who lost his battle with COVID in April. He suffered in isolation, not only from other germs in the hospital but all human contact except for his caregivers. I worried about how I might have a few of those underlying conditions you hear about, like being a tad overweight. Although I have no respiratory issues, I don’t need that to land me on a respirator, fighting for my life.
The 15 minutes came and went before they relocated me into another exam room to see the doctor. Chatting with the nurse while she updated my chart, I was wondering why there was still no word on my results. The doc checked my breathing and took my blood pressure (it was normal). I finally asked him if they had the results from my COVID test yet. He said the nurse will check for me and left with the nurse to see another patient.
When the nurse returned, she had an EKG machine for my checkup and quietly hooked me up to all the wires. While being monitored, I heard the doctor speaking to someone outside the door.
“Really, it came back positive?” he said.
Positive? I swear, the EKG machine began to beep a little louder.
“That’s too bad,” he continued, “I wasn’t expecting that.” Now, I could swear the EKG machine was starting to flatline.
“I didn’t think she had strep,” he said.
Oh, my! He was talking about someone else, thank goodness. Too bad that the patient had strep throat, but at least she wasn’t positive for COVID.
When he came in to read the EKG, I asked again about my results.
“Of course, you were negative,” he said with a smile on his face, “If you were positive, they would have stuck that giant Q-Tip up your nose and sent you home.”
I’m not sure when my doctor became a comedian, but this time, he made me smile. Stay safe out there, dear readers.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist (2018, 2020) and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.