By Craig Hastings
Well I’ve heard a bunch of COVID-19 personal experience stories since March of this year. Can you believe it, this pandemic has been going on for nearly seven months now. The professionals have told us to mask, then don’t mask, and today mask again. Something called social distancing was added and soon the definition of social distancing was interpreted differently depending on who you talked to. Then our politicians decide to get involved and offer their own expertise of which they have none. Politicians on both sides of the sandbox from which they play, shout opinions warning us that they feel the only way to survive this pandemic is to hunker down at home and don’t move. Yep, we were all told to get family close and ride the storm out. Stock up on bread and water and as much toilet paper as you could buy, steal, or trade for. There’s some family households that have enough toilet paper to last them for a year or two and enough disinfectant sprays of various formulas to last them even longer. I am always able to find laundry bleach available and this cut with water was all anybody needed to get de-virused. (not a word, I know) I always have a supply of Wesley’s Bleach White tire cleaner in my garage that smells a little better than straight bleach and water. If people had taken the time to look around their own homes and read the ingredients list on the labels of bottles and cans they would have discovered they had plenty of chemicals that were capable of killing most viruses. Now if you are one with sensitive skin, maybe you wouldn’t want to use the bleach products. The manufacturers of anti bacterial/virus products were deemed essential industries so those guys made a killing. Still are. At least their employees stayed on the job.
Anyway, this week I have my very own personal story to tell you about my own experience with COVID-19. It’s been about two weeks now that this happened to me. My youngest son may have had contact with an Eastern Illinois student at a time this student may have been infected but not experiencing any symptoms at the time. This student later did indeed test positive for COVID-19 and was isolated and sick with all the symptoms. So as a matter of precaution I decided to take my son to get tested. Since my son and I had been in close proximity to each other I would test too. I had tested two weeks earlier at Carle Hospital and that test came back negative. We drove to Urbana and both did the nasal swab test and I also had them do the blood draw to see if I had the antibodies in my system from maybe having the virus at some other time in the past year. I figured if I would have had this virus in the past and was now carrying the antibodies and patients were being treated by having these antibodies introduced into their own blood, I would become a donor. I was confident I was good to go and only a little concerned about Lukas. Two days later at 4:00 in the afternoon Shannon and I were shopping at Captain Jack’s in Savoy when my phone rang. I answered and a doctor on the other end introduced himself and told me I had tested positive for COVID-19 and he had not yet received Lukas’ results. What?! “What are your symptoms’’ he asked. “None, zero, I feel great, just mowed my yard” I replied. “But Lukas and I tested at the same time, same day, same place, how can that be?” “Oh it happens” was his response. I was instructed to go home and isolate myself from the rest of the family and anyone else living in the house should be tested and quarantined for fourteen days themselves. The doctor did remind me I was in the high risk age group as was he…like that made me feel any better about the news!
So home we went and I immediately moved anything I might possibly need for the next eight days into my basement where I would be living, alone, with an occasional visit from one of the cats. (Eight days because it took two days to get my results. Ten days if you’re sick, fourteen days if you’re exposed) I started to wait to get sick as I read everything I could about this virus and how it moves through its stages of sickness in the human body. After the first night in the dungeon…nothing, feeling great. Now I’m getting mad because I’m not sick and I have lots of things to do. Back on the internet to read about false positives and false negatives. Payton and Shannon are off to Champaign to get tested. This doctor mistakenly gave me his phone number and told me I could call him anytime. I called him to ask about Lukas and he told me he hadn’t gotten Lukas’ results back but he did ask me if Lukas had any symptoms. I told him Lukas had a cough but always does at harvest his entire life. He said, “Craig if he has a cough and you tested positive, Lukas will too.” Well that was scary information! I asked about the possibility of a false positive with my test. “Not likely, false negatives are more common.” He went on to give me the percentages of false positives compared to false negatives. By the time he told me all the math I assumed I was doomed. So I spent another night in the dungeon and woke up feeling great. To make it worse, Shannon and Payton are told this same morning, the very next day after their tests, they tested negative! No way, can’t be! I called the doctor again. (Told you he made a mistake inviting me to call anytime) “Craig, this is not uncommon. I’ve got a family of seven where one tested positive and the other six tested negative.” Another night in the dungeon and another morning I’m feeling great. Once again I call this doctor. This time I want to know if retesting would be a good idea. “Well Craig you can if you want but like I said, blah, blah, blah, and another blah.” “I’ll be there in thirty minutes, I told him.” “Come on up, I’m here.” This was on a Sunday.
I threw shoes on and off I went to Urbana, the same place I took my first test. But, while I was in Urbana I had already decided that after I tested in Urbana that I would drive to the Champaign test site, the same one Shannon and Payton tested. I would test in Champaign also. I completed both tests in less than an hour and was on my way home feeling great! Another night in the dungeon, one cat spent the night with me, and another morning I felt great. I feel even better when around 10:00 a.m. I get a call from a representative of the Champaign test site and I’m told I tested negative. “How can that be, I ask?” “Could be a false positive, take the test again within the next twenty-four hours and we can clear you to return to work and society.” I jumped in my car and off I went, back to Champaign for test three. No word from Urbana. Of course I called the doctor again. Same information he’s already told me but this time he’s a little more receptive to a false positive. With the negative test information the dungeon feels more like my finished and comfortable basement this night and now both cats are feeling sorry for me and they both stay the night with me. At 11:00 a.m. a Champaign test site representative called me and told me my test was negative again. I’m told I’ll get an email letter allowing me to return to work and go back about my business. It’s Wednesday. Payton and Shannon were also relieved of their own isolation. Lukas would remain in isolation until Saturday because he had the possible direct contact with a positive test student… Nothing but crickets from the Urbana site. I call.
This time a very polite female voice was on the other end of the line. I think the doctor flagged my telephone number and handed my call off to a nurse or someone else. Honestly, if I was the doctor I would have too! She told me that she couldn’t see where my test had been analyzed yet but she would check into it and call me back if she discovered anything. I told her about the other two negative tests and her response to me was; “Oh wow.” “It could be a false positive, it happens more times than you might think.” What? Two hours pass and still crickets. Now I’m beginning to think I’ll never hear back from the Urbana test site because I told them about my Champaign results. Boom! My phone alerted me to an email I just received. It’s a laboratory in California that analyzed my second Urbana test. And guess what? It took them four days, four days, to tell me I now tested negative with them also! How in the world did my nose swab end up in California?! I went back into my email and looked to see where the first Urban test was analyzed. It was done in Schaumburg, Illinois! What?! Now, I want to believe that everything I went through was honest and all above board but….jeez!
Here’s what I came away with here. If any of you or someone you know tests positive and has little to no symptoms; get another test, fast!! When you get a second test do as I did; go back where you got the first test but go somewhere different for the other. Now I wonder; is this a government numbers game requiring so many negatives and so many but fewer positive tests? The doctor I spoke with explained a possible false positive could happen because the test picked up some other strain of the COVID-19 virus but not the exact strain that has caused this pandemic. Well okay but, why didn’t any of my other three tests pick it up and they too, at least one of them, read a false positive? The news of a positive turns your household upside down! The changes you have to make are numerous and incredible. When awake, I was waiting hour by hour to get that first symptom. When I woke up the first thing that raced across my mind was, how do I feel. Isolation in your own home when you live with three other people is hard on the brain because your own family members are trying not to be afraid of you but they are! I lost seven pounds in six days! That was a good thing I guess. “Operation Warp Speed”; get me a vaccine please! I’m too old to deal with the stress of being old and vulnerable to this virus!