I’m getting tested for corona way too much for my liking. Only now I realized how elegant was my first time with the COVID test as I talked about it in my How I got tested for COVID on Vacation in Greece. This time in Prague everything was way more serious but 100% more ridiculous.
Corona situation in Czechia is getting out of hand with around 1500 new cases per day.
It still felt kind of foreign to me. It’s happening somewhere out there and not affecting me directly so it’s not real right?
No one takes is seriously unless it’s personal and this is the story of how it got personal to me.
Working in a pharmacy during a pandemic is one hell of a ride. The first wave of corona brought Corona stories from the pharmacy and the second wave brought first-hand experience.
It all took a major twist when a colleague of mine realized she can’t smell anything. No need to panic yet even though it is one of the corona symptoms but it could be caused by plenty of other reasons. But just to make sure she went to the doctor and got tested.
It was Friday around noon. I was helping out on another pharmacy than it’s my own. Normal day.
You can imagine the dread that ran through me when I read the pretty simple message from my colleague that she tested positive for coronavirus.
I remember I was with the patient at the moment, I think they were buying a face mask or something like that when I froze. It was a quick glance at my phone but it left me shaking.
First thought was OH SHIT, naturally.
Second was WHAT NOW?
I’m presumably COVID positive as I was working with a positive colleague for almost a week. I might be spreading the virus around the place myself.
Even though we pharmacists wear face masks for most of the day we do eat, drink or chill without it.
The level of stress that began that Friday noon and ended Monday evening is ridiculous.
So the protocol was to get through the day as we were. If we got it we got it by now so the next few hours won’t make a difference.
The risk to the patients was barely there but I was extra harsh when someone stepped to me without a mouth and nose protection. Like I’m doing the best I can to protect you given the situation. If you refuse to follow the restrictions then you get what you deserve.
Our home pharmacy was about to be thoroughly disinfected and closed for the Saturday as our whole team was about to be tested. We spend the whole Friday figuring out where to get tested, making several calls, and planing it out. We finally settled for the Covid-19 sampling point in Prague center Wenceslas Square.
They start testing at 8 in the morning so we thought we’ll come early and get it done soon enough.
My expectations were pretty simple.
I kinda knew what I was getting into as I already been tested for COVID and it was super quick.
I didn’t bother with putting makeup on or even washing my hair or eating breakfast as I was sure I’ll be back home soon. Besides, I’ll be wearing a respirator the whole day so who cares.
7:30 me and my colleagues met at Wenceslas Square and we already saw the line forming up even though the testing didn’t even began. So we joined in the bizarre line of people.
From old people to kids. From people covered in protective gear from head to toe to people standing in the COVID testing line without a face mask. How stupid and reckless you have to be to come to a COVID test without a face mask?
My favorite were the people who bought their own chairs to the queue. That was a golden ticket idea as we realized way too late.
An hour and a half later we were still at the same spot hungry, thirsty, and fed up. After like another 30 minutes the line started to move and we were both relieved and way more anxious.
Relieved we’re getting close to the end and anxious for the fast approaching stick in our noses.
Little did we know the waiting just begun.
The line we just spend 2 hours it was for something like registration only. We each got a form to fill out and a number, based on which we’ll be getting called in for testing. There was this big screen a the door with the numbers lit up.
It was something past 9 am and the number of the screen was 125. I got number 222. There were literally 97 people in the queue ahead of me.
Well ok, it’s a simple quick nose swab. It could be like 2 minutes max for a person.
So in the meantime, we filled out the form.
It’s super important to bring a pen to COVID testing otherwise you’re fucked.
Besides basic personal info, the form required you to state whether you have any COVID symptoms, whether it’s your first time or confirmation test, what kind of test you require, or if you’re gonna pay for it yourself.
Once we were done with the form we waited some more for our number to lit up the screen.
Very quickly we realized it’s not happening any time soon as they tested like 15 people per hour.
Let me remind you there were like 200 people standing in the front of the sampling point waiting to be tested. Each of those people was either in contact with someone positive, was positive, and is waiting to get a confirmation test after quarantine or is showing COVID symptoms. Wenceslas Square is big but not big enough to cover 200 presumably infected people with sufficient distance between them. If you didn’t have COVID by now it’s very likely you’re gonna get it right there.
So we left.
Some of us stayed behind informing the rest of the group of the number being tested at the moment.
We had an awesome team building day. I adore my colleagues dearly and I can’t imagine going through this shit without them. We are a group of around 13 people age 20-30 and we spend the whole day laughing way too much for such a serious situation. I can’t imagine waiting in the line on my own for so long doing nothing but panic. I’d lose my mind.
We chilled by the water, got some drinks, got some lunch, and returned to the crime scene for some more waiting.
It was 15:15 when my number lit up.
I shit you not we spend 8 hours waiting in line to get tested.
How ridiculous is that?
The test itself was under a minute. The longer was the paperwork around it and the payment itself. Btw the test cost 1750Kc and that’s around 75euro. Luckily it got paid by the company.
Everyone working there was super nice but I was still very anxious. I read so many articles about how awful the nose swab is and the anticipation was killing me.
In all seriousness is wasn’t that bad.
Remember when you were a kid and you would get a noodle stuck up your nose and no matter what you did you simply couldn’t sneeze it out? Or when you’re going on a water slide and you forget to plug your nose and the water just rushes in your nose all at once? Well, that’s what it’s like to get a nose swab for corona test.
A couple of minutes later I still felt a slight shimmering in my nose like I’m about to sneeze but that was it. The whole scary testing. But the tickling did bring tears to my eyes so I came out of it looking like I just finished a good cry.
If you thought waiting 8 hours for the test was bad you have no idea what’s coming next.
They told us the results would be by 24 hours.
When I woke up Sunday morning there were plenty of messages in our work group chat. All of my colleagues already got their results at around midnight- all of them negative.
I received nothing.
First thought was OH SHIT, naturally.
The second was to panic.
What if I put the wrong phone number. What if there’s something wrong with the test? Could they lost my test? I’m definitely positive. I better download the grocery delivery app and get ready for quarantine.
I talked to a friend who does the COVID tests and she calmed me down a bit. This shit happens. Sometimes the results are unclear so they have to repeat it to make sure. I might be sorted into different batch than my colleagues.
I ought to give them the promised 24 hours.
So I did.
The whole day went in a blur. I kept hypnotizing my phone to show me my test results. Unsuccessfully.
As the 24 hour approached I searched for a number to call to get my results myself.
The clinic that did my tests would not pick up the phone for the love of God and I totally get it with the mess that is going on right now in Czechia. So I tried calling the hygienic station for Prague if they have my results. They picked up on the 5th try. A very nice lady informed me that I haven’t got any result yet, nor negative nor positive.
At least she checked my phone number to be correct and recommend I wait 48 hours.
Well, what other choice did I have?
I was so sure I’ll wake up on Monday morning with a text message with my COVID test results. I woke up disappointed so I started calling out asking for my results.
On one hand, I was pretty sure I’m negative cuz if I wasn’t someone would call me by now. But on the other what if my test got lost and no one knows whether I’m negative or positive. Hell, they do 16000 tests per day, of course, something could go wrong.
I called the testing center 8 times. Unsuccessfully. So I wrote an email just in case.
I called the hygienic station since the early morning. They picked up my 16th attempt. I felt like a crazy ex-girlfriend calling them so much but what other choice did I have?
Fun fact even after 2 days I still had no result.
I was losing it.
The lady from the COVID info line recommended I wait till Monday evening, cuz sometimes it just takes a while.
I was on day 4 of constant panic state. I was done.
At around 4 pm of my day-long stare into emptiness, I got an email from the testing clinic. It was a reply to my earlier email I had no hope I’d ever get a response to. It was a plain 2 lines email stating: I’m sending you your results in the attachment. And then there was a laboratory test results with one important word: NEGATIVE.
You might think that after 4 days of waiting I would be relieved but I literally felt nothing.
I looked at the word NEGATIVE and thought an apathetic “ok”.
I never expected such a dreadful waiting being ever associated with coronavirus.
I’m COVID negative but I’m exhausted to death.