Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve harboured a somewhat-rational fear of the COVID-19 test. Besides the educated guess that having something go higher up your nose than your finger would be an unpleasant experience, I actually have prior experience with something in the same realm.
During a time when I suffered from frequent nosebleeds, a specialist analyzed my case by using a camera that went way up there. Between the sensation of feeling the camera sliding deeper into my head and being able to actually see what the inside of my head looks like through the monitor, the idea of anything else going in my nasal cavity is something I’ve wanted to avoid. In my head, I’ve almost built up the test itself to be a bigger concern than actually getting sick.
As of writing, I can’t validate the latter. But now that I’ve experienced the former, I thought I’d share how that went. Especially for those who have concerns about taking a swab up the nose.
Steff and I entered the queue about 15 minutes before our scheduled time. It took about 45 minutes for us to finally take our turn, though I’ve heard of testing lines taking much longer. If you’re going to get tested, I strongly recommend going as early as possible to avoid large lines that can take hours to work through while also limiting contact with others.
After a quick screening at the front door, we were guided to the back of the trailer where the test was to be administered. At this point, the nurse began talking us through the process. While prepping the swab, she said something that eased my tensions immensely.
“It’s going to feel like you’re swimming underwater.”
Visions of having my brains scooped out melted away as she gave me an analogy I was familiar with. Though I don’t like the feeling of water going all the way up my nose when I go swimming, I am at least familiar with that sensation and know I can live through such a trauma. It also helped to hear that it only required to go up one nostril for five seconds. I can survive five seconds of discomfort, right?
“Now let me show you the swab.”
Before opening up the package, she shows me the apparatus that will be probing my nasal cavity. I can see that it’s got a soft end to it. She also goes out of her way to state that while the swab is long, only a portion of it will go up my nose. All of the prep she did to ease me into the process was truly appreciated.
“Tilt your head back and bring your mask down a bit.”
It’s go-time. I nudge my mask down just enough and tilt my head to the sky. Bumping my head against the wall, I adjust my seating position to give myself maximum extension. Lining up the lengthy swab with my nostril, the nurse proceeds with the insertion.
As it went inside, the sensation felt just as she described. It was odd to feel that pressure within my nose as if I were underwater while I clearly wasn’t, but there was no surprises as it went in. Before I knew it, the swab was out. After a few minutes of watery eyes and a general discomfort in my nose, I was fine.
For anyone that has built this test up to be something to be scared of, please don’t be. There certainly is a level of discomfort to it, but the test itself won’t cause any long-term harm. Don’t avoid the test if you’re scared of going through the process. Especially if you have symptoms, please take it for the sake of your health and the health of those around you.
A few days later, the results came in. Negative. For now, having that piece of mind helps. But that doesn’t mean I stop taking every precaution for things to stay that. I’ll keep wearing a mask every time I go out. Will continue limiting my trips outside of the house. Will keep my hands clean to the best of my ability. And if I’m in a situation where I need to get tested, I’ll do so. For everyone’s sake, hoping you’re also taking this seriously.