Unmasking the Virus: A Retail Diary of the Plague Years (Volume 9)

July 15, 2020

I just dropped my wife off at the emergency room. They wouldn’t let me wait inside, and the heat index in Texas is so high right now our car’s air conditioning feels like a camel breaking wind. The nurse told me to go home. It didn’t feel right, but there weren’t any other options. My wife is texting me updates as they come in.

“Vital signs are normal.”

“This is so stupid.”

The COVID-19 test she took last week came back negative; however, her chest pains and cough have gotten worse. She’s having problems sleeping because she can’t lay on her side. We called our doctor to make an appointment so we could figure out what is happening, but the doctor said to go to the emergency room instead.

“It’s probably just asthma. I hate myself.”

When she hung up with the doctor, we debated our options. Our co-pay for an emergency room visit is $300, but we didn’t know how long she would be there or what tests they would do that might cost more.

“Fuuuuuuck I feel like this was a mistake.”

If you are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms right now, your regular physician will not see you for obvious reasons. This means you have to make a costly trip to the emergency room if you need a doctor.

“They ordered an EKG and blood work and a chest x-ray and I have a fucking needle in my arm and it hurts.”

Apparently, false negatives are common with COVID-19, which means sometimes the test says you don’t have the virus even though you do. This was one of the reasons our doctor sent us to the emergency room.

“And meanwhile the registration people have called me 3 times telling me to fill out some forms, and I’m like getting an x-ray, so just fucking hold your horses.”

Adult Onset Asthma runs in my wife’s family, and she began exhibiting symptoms more than a year ago. She spoke to her doctor about it, but the symptoms were mild at that time and she didn’t get an official diagnosis before quarantine. This is probably what’s causing her discomfort, but we’re struggling to get her the care she needs.

“Everything is normal but they won’t test me for COVID unless they are admitting me. They don’t have enough to test everyone.”

To recap: if you have COVID-19 symptoms, your usual doctor will not see you until you have a test, but many of the tests are false negatives, so if you have tested negative and you are still exhibiting symptoms, they send you to the emergency room, where they tell you to get another test.

“So I can either get another test or go back to work, but I can’t get help for my problem unless that problem is COVID, but even if I test negative for COVID and I still have symptoms, I can’t get help because I might have COVID.”

So this is the conundrum. We work at retail jobs where we’re exposed to the public eighty hours a week in a state with one of the highest infection rates in the country and where health information and subsidies are lacking. Not only is it difficult to get an inexpensive test with quick results; we’re also having a hard time finding the necessary everyday healthcare we need.

“I don’t know what I should do. I don’t know I don’t know. Please come and get me.”

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