Coronavirus testing: Doing it for Dad

People need to get tested for COVID-19 if they have flu symptoms or are visiting a high-risk person.
People need to get tested for COVID-19 if they have flu symptoms or are visiting a high-risk person.

I hate going to the dentist, going to the doctor, getting needles, or strangers getting physically close to me, so with the coronavirus pandemic you'd think I'd be happy.

Nowadays, people don't look at me like I'm a weirdo when I don't want someone standing too near. The fact is they're not allowed to by law. Awesome!

When the great NSW regional bust out happens on June 1, I want to travel from Sydney to visit my 87-year-old dad who lives by himself in the Tweed Heads area.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has deemed June 1 as the first day in months from when we'll be allowed to go well away from our home within NSW.

My sister suggested that I get tested before visiting Dad, and when I'd coughed a couple of times while talking to my eldest brother on Skype, he asked in a very serious tone, if I've been tested for COVID-19.

Remember when the most offensive thing you could do in polite company was a fart? Nowadays if you cough everyone is thinking OMG! OMG! Has he got the coronavirus?

I seriously doubt that I have the coronavirus. I've been working from home for just over two months, the only contact has been with shopkeepers and I've kept well away from people on my daily walk.

During that time I have been disgustingly healthy. Normally I regularly have a few coughs and sniffles at this time of year, but nothing in the past few months.

My Dad's retirement village has recently lifted its restrictions on access for non-essential visitors, but Dad , a retired doctor, also suggested I get the test.

It's perfectly sensible for me to be tested before entering a retirement village, when you consider that an overwhelming number of deaths from the coronavirus has been among people who are over 70-years-old.

I just don't want anyone sticking that long thing up my nose, but I'll do it for Dad and his neighbours.

So I go to the local hospital and follow the signs to the COVID-19 testing and there's a tent in the middle of a carpark, and I think: "Is this it?" But the two guys in the tent are just there to make sure I've got a mask and I've put plenty of sanitiser on my hands.

I'm then directed to go upstairs and give all my details, and after a few minutes in an almost empty waiting room, a doctor comes in and greets me like I'm a long lost friend, though we've never met before.

I figure she is the one sticking that swab up my nose, so she's got to be friendly to compensate.

She takes me into another room, asks me a bunch of medical questions and takes my temperature and pulse. Temperature normal, pulse rate a little high, probably because I'm bit nervous.

Then a nurse asks me to pull out my mobile phone so I can register to get the result via SMS.

I'm also told to self-isolate until I get the result, which will take 24 to 72 hours - that's useful to know.

Now for the actual test - the only time I had the face mask off the whole time I was in the hospital.

The nurse with the swabs greets me with a lovely smile and I go into another room with a single chair in it.

Yes, it was unpleasant when that swab was stuck up my nostrils but it only lasted a couple of seconds. I also had a swab stuck into my mouth and into my throat that made me gag and cough.

I apologise profusely to the nurse, but she was okay.

All-in-all I was in the hospital for less than half an hour, arriving just before noon on a rainy Friday.

It's really not that bad and there's no excuse for people not to get tested. It was quick and only unpleasant for a couple of seconds.

The result came back in less than 12 hours, saying I don't have COVID-19 and it was nice to be sure I could visit my Dad without risking his health.

Australian Associated Press