A COUGH, a sniffle, a sore throat. That's all I had. And of course, the dragging fatigue any minor cold can inflict.
It took a war between the hypochondriac self of which I am ashamed, and the sensible self that said, "Don't be a drama queen". The tables were turned though.
Sensible said "Test, it's the law". The worrier within said, "Don't waste healthcare workers' time, this is a pandemic".
It was unlikely, almost impossible, that I had COVID-19. In fact, I'm about the only person I know not truly, deeply and irrevocably convinced they are, or have been, infected.
But my symptoms matched the Victorian government's criteria.
As a journalist, I am still getting out and about to do my job. It's to a much more limited degree than three months ago. But sometimes, I'm still forced to be in the corporeal presence of other humans. It's always been what I like most about the job.
And I didn't want to be that person. The Aspen couple. The aged care worker. The cruiser. Unaware, to varying degrees, but a link in a chain of death.
Visions haunted me of being the super-spreading link that took Australia from a success story to a world-shattering pandemic.
So, sensible-self won.
It's how I found myself toeing the ground outside a testing clinic, in my disheveled work from home attire. It was my clothes from yesterday, so I could put them straight in the wash. Maybe not a recommended safety measure, but who isn't being way too careful right now?
I stood a foot or two below a white line, spray painted along the drive. My foot rested on the T of "STOP" spray painted below it. For some reason I'd chosen thongs on the coldest day of 2020 thus far.
Idly I aligned the black Havaianas' edge with the bar of the T.
The same scene was repeated three metres on, under a portable shade cover.
A school-leaver in scrubs and protective equipment gave me a mask. It replaced the purple scarf I'd used to cover my nose and mouth, as per the emailed instructions. She took my details. We waited for an older man ahead.
I moved up to the next line on the ground.
Here a man in blue scrubs and protective gear took my details again. Again, he was very young.
Lying on the table was a gun-like thermometer which beeps your temperature. He held it to my forehead, it blipped, I was in.
Again, a wait outside the door.
A woman brought me in, sat me down. I was the lone patient inside. Layers of protective equipment made her anonymous but for auburn hair. Blue scrubs, gloves, a face shield. Anonymous, but she was very kind.
In a minute it was over.
A tiny thin swab to the back of my throat. A tiny thin swab stuck impossibly far up each nostril.
I can't be the only one to remember they removed the Egyptian pharaohs' brains through the nostrils while embalming?
The sensation was closest to the childhood moment of getting water really far up your nose in the pool. Unpleasant? Yes. Protracted? Not at all.
But done. Out. Back to my house to self-isolate until I get a negative result. My civic duty, done and dusted.
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