I had been asymptomatic, but as close family members presented with some Covid19 symptoms, I undertook the test to be extra cautious. The test wasn’t nice, guess no procedure is, but no way near as bad as the other interventions I’d previously endured. Basically, gloved professionals stick a long cotton swab down your throat until you gag and twist another up your nose until your eyes water. Sounds awful really, but it’s only short-term discomfort. Besides, it’s human contact right! I guess I’ve had so many tests – poking and prodding is no longer a ‘biggy’ for me! Plus, the relief and comfort that follows any procedure being over always makes it easier.
I reflect on these feelings in my book, reinventing emma, following some procedures I underwent in my stroke recovery, – “…they wheeled me, exposed and vulnerable, back to my room. Nauseous from the long procedure and seeing stars, having been stripped of any form of comfort for the entire procedure, I was relieved to see my close family and friends waiting in my room…” (Reinventing Emma, p.30)
But after the covid19 test, the staff advised me to completely isolate while awaiting my results. So, I happily returned to the same isolated spot that I’d inhabited for the last nine weeks. However, unlike after my past procedures, on this occasion, there were no face-to-face family & friends to comfort me. It was so good to return to the non-clinical environment of my home and have no test-induced symptoms to watch out for. Although, I had been fully dressed in the procedure, I still felt strangely vulnerable and exposed. I was also surprised that despite the test being over, I still felt quite uneasy ‘waiting’.. I craved comfort.
I definitely received ‘virtual’ comfort, but it’s not quite the same. I heated up my mum’s pumpkin soup, I breathed in fresh air from back door, meditated and did yin yoga in the sun and caught up on ‘feel good’ Netflix movies. I cuddled my dog, Gilbert imagining the oxytocin hormones refuelling me. I waited for the text saying I was either positive or negative.
Waiting for any result is tough. While your samples culture to dictate your next steps, you seem to be also stewing in negative ‘what ifs’ ‘it’s not right”i haven’t done x!’ Although I was asymptomatic and felt unlikely to have contracted the virus, the weight of the ‘unknown results’ did unconsciously take a toll on my mind.
I remember the waiting period after undertaking many tests before my stroke – the procedure that diagnosed the tiny malformation in my brain that led to my stroke & future as a person with a chronic disability.
I write in my book “…The waiting period was the hardest time of all. I often only had one hour of therapy a day, so I had way too much time to think about my future…” (Reinventing Emma, p.50)
Years later, after four days of awaiting my covid19 results a text alerted me to a message saying that I was negative. Finally I could exit my isolated spot and treat myself to a take-away coffee. Throughout my ‘waiting’ period I had conjured up in my mind a list of the great activities I would do when I was cleared to enter the world again – see family and friends again, drink hot coffee, walk my dog etc”.
However, after my longed for ‘caffeine hit, I returned to my isolated spot and didn’t feel the elation that I’d expected. I felt glum.
My negative results matched my negative mood.
Perhaps if the outcome had been positive – my need for sanitising everything, depriving myself of human contact and staying in isolation would’ve been easier to accept. But instead, I feel like I’ve returned to living as I had, the fear associated with a future positive result remains. I still feel trapped. I still feel frustrated & apprehensive. I still feel negative.
Often we feel glum when, with perspective, we have so much in life to be grateful for. At these times it’s easy to become angry at ourselves for even having such negative thoughts. The fact is, we all have negative thoughts, and like Coronavirus they can breed, if we don’t try and prevent them from multiplying. We can acknowledge their presence, but choose to tune into the things we are thankful for.
So, if you’re sick of your spot right now, tired of the restrictions & waiting, feel bogged down with future fears and anxieties – make that ok. Be kind to yourself. A good outcome doesn’t always mean that you feel suddenly optimistic. Allow yourself to catch up! Just as our test results need time to determine a certain outcome, we also need to be patient and kind to ourselves while we wait. Surround yourself in comfort and allow your positive thoughts to breed!