How to Find Out You Have Pneumonia during a Pandemic

  1. Cough very hard for two days.
  2. Consider, and reject, the idea that you could have caught, well, anything, by virtue of not leaving the house in three weeks except, ironically, to rush a child to the emergency room for a seizure. (Not from having pneumonia!)
  3. Start feeling ill.
  4. A few hours later, start feeling really ill.
  5. Go to bed in the middle of the day and hope your family is fending for themselves. They’ll probably remember to eat.
  6. Realize that you have a very high fever. Shake with chills intermittently. Eventually move enough to pick up thermometer from the bedside table and discover that you have a fever of 102.7 degrees. Marinate for three days.
  7. Mid-marination, pause to notice that your lungs … slosh? … when you roll from one side to the other in a fevered haze.
  8. Long after midnight for three sleepless nights, listen to the strange crinkling sound made by your lungs when you exhale. Like the gloop of sticky mud that tried to suck off your boot, glooping back into its hole. If mud were made of cellophane.
  9. Drag yourself out of bed and drive to the pharmacy for a drive-through, zero contact COVID test. Get lost on the one mile drive. The test is the PCR test, and results will be available in 3-5 days. Get lost again on the way home.
  10. Need to add new test. Child cannot have follow-up visit (remember the seizure?) until parent can be proven not to have COVID. You are not actually going to the appointment, but germs carry. Can their medical group test you? No. You are not a patient.
  11. Can your doctor test you? No. They don’t test. It might involve sick people visiting the doctor’s office.
  12. It is surprisingly difficult to find someone to test you to determine if you have a potentially deadly disease during a pandemic of that disease – if you are ungracious enough to actually show symptoms of the disease! (You note, however, that if you want to go to Hawaii, visit relatives, or be tested to play high school sports, no problem.)
  13. Find testing center at urgent care. Try to make appointment. YOU ARE SYMPTOMATIC! DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200!!!!
  14. Try to make a telehealth appointment at urgent care so that you can tell them that you need a COVID test because you have COVID symptoms and before you actually die might be a pretty damn good idea! Also, that your son cannot see his doctor and get an EEG scheduled until they know you are not spreading flippin’ pandemic germs all over the house! You must fill out and send forms.
  15. Do not take a nap. You might miss your appointment!
  16. They lose your paperwork and cancel your appointment. You text angrily that your husband SENT the paperwork. The physician assistant shows up on the telehealth window that you forgot to close while you attempt to remember how to open your calendar to reschedule. He agrees that you look terrible and orders a test. You can drive to the parking lot and call in and say that you have a parking lot test ordered because you are sick. It just takes a few minutes – no problem.
  17. Fever rising. Weird cellophane gloop noise increasing.
  18. Drive two miles to urgent care. Manage not to get lost. Call inside. They seem surprised, but will send someone out immediately.
  19. Immediately passes. Ten minutes pass after that. They text you and say someone will be out shortly. Later, you discover that “shortly” is urgent care speak for “in 30 more minutes.” Try not to shake in your car.
  20. Space out and scream when a masked lady waving long sticks shows up at your car window.
  21. Endure more swabbing for a rapid COVID test and a rapid influenza test. These are the second and third sets of nose swabs today. Noses object to that much swabbing. While you feel like someone is trying to find your brain to remove it and turn you into a mummy, sneeze inside your mask.
  22. “Don’t worry; test takes 20 minutes. If it’s positive, we’ll call immediately, if not, we’ll put it in your chart. Either way, you’ll know within the hour – no problem.”
  23. Go home. Manage not to get lost again.
  24. Fever rising some more. No naps! Might miss phone call!
  25. Within the hour comes and goes. So does within two hours. The phone rings and you don’t jump, because you don’t have the energy. Your test is negative!
  26. Wait…why were you doing this?
  27. Husband remembers why you were doing this and calls pediatrician. Appointment rescheduled for next morning.
  28. Now you know that you don’t have COVID or influenza. Nifty. Still feel dreadful. Your husband calls YOUR doctor. He is on hold for 20 minutes, then cannot be heard. He calls again. He is on hold for another 20 minutes, then gets through. Receptionist objects to a rapid test about which they know nothing. Who ordered this test? Will leave a message for the triage nurse to call you, but you cannot talk to them now, because practice keeps reception in one office that is closed, even though your doctor’s office is still open.
  29. Listen to cellophane gloop all night. Do not sleep.
  30. Doctor’s office calls in the morning. Hallelujah! You will not die! Triage nurse agrees that it sounds very bad, but, wow, nice that you don’t have COVID. Someone needs to examine you in person. Definitely. But you cannot come into the office with COVID symptoms. Yes, you have a negative test, but you cannot come in. The triage nurse would need permission from your doctor to let you come in. You cannot get permission from your doctor until the doctor sees you. Urgent care is the best bet.
  31. Oh, good, you am going to die in a Kafka novel.
  32. Start coughing up blood.
  33. Possibly you will die of consumption in that Kafka novel.
  34. You research urgent care to find one that might be reputable. Your doctor has told you never to go to urgent care unless they are closed and your body is spurting blood in all directions or you can see bone. Come to the office. Oh, wait, that doctor retired. You are doomed.
  35. Find urgent care associated with the actual hospital. Try to make appointment. They do not take appointments, but will “save your spot!” which is six hours from now. Spend them filling out more forms, not napping, and once, regrettably, walking a few yards to see if your son is actually doing his schoolwork. He is not. You are dizzy. Cough up more blood. Lie down and think about pallid 19th century heroines. And Keats.
  36. Remember that your COVID vaccine is tonight! You’re a teacher! You have an appointment! You cannot go! No more vaccines are set aside for teachers now, so you will just have to enter the random pool with everyone! We decided the appointment system hoops do not work, so we will just draw names! And call you if you win the jackpot that week! Then you can have an appointment! Never mind that your district just reversed course about opening grades 6-12 and is now rushing to open the schools! Haven’t you heard? Teachers don’t need to be vaccinated! Anyway, all the teachers in your state are; just ask the governor.
  37. At last, another entire day has passed and you it is time to leave for your early evening urgent care visit.
  38. In the driveway, you get a news flash that there has just been a fatal shooting. In a park. Right outside the hospital and urgent care complex.
  39. Of course, the roads are closed off when you get there.
  40. Though caution and complete lack of navigation skills are thrown to the wind, somehow manage to arrive. Miraculously, they do not turn you away for having symptoms. You show them your test results anyway, just in case.
  41. After much poking and testing and no resting, the doctor agrees that you have pneumonia and orders you antibiotics and cough syrup too.
  42. When you arrive at the pharmacy, the doctor has forgotten the cough syrup.
  43. Return home. Now perhaps you can go back to bed.

Oh, wait…you only wrote sub plans through today.

15 thoughts on “How to Find Out You Have Pneumonia during a Pandemic

  1. Oh no! I pray you are feeling better and that you let the world continue to spin while you don’t concern yourself with anything other than selfcare.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You poor thing. This was way to many steps and hoops to have to go through to feel better. But I believe it. Early on in the pandemic, my three year old was ordered bloodwork, a cheat x-ray, and needed to give a urine sample because no one would see her. She had an ear infection. I hope you are feeling better. It shouldn’t be that hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Holy cow. You wrote so much while feeling so terrible. And your descriptions elicit so many emotions for me- I’m amused, worried, frustrated, exhausted, hopeful, more worried…. I hope you get some rest and feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marginally better. I managed to write some more sub plans so I can take the rest of the week off, and the high fever is gone. But I don’t get to just stay in bed and sleep and get better though, since I am still on full time Mom-supervising-5th-grade-digital -learning detail.


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