Life in the Time of Corona, Vol. 2

Life is so weird these days, isn’t it? I’m writing this blog post today to talk about two coronavirus-related things: the nasal swab test itself, and the blood draw test for antibodies. I recommend you to get both of these tests if at all possible!

First, I want to talk about how I got tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Erie County, NY’s Department of Health is really doing a great job with their antibody testing. They’ve had multiple locations over the past few weeks where you can get a free antibody test done. I decided to sign up for one. Why? Well…. why not? Although I knew it was unlikely I had the antibodies – I hadn’t knowingly been exposed to anyone with COVID, nor did I feel like I’d had it at any point – I figured it was a smart, responsible thing to do. Only about five percent of county residents are estimated to have the antibodies, so I knew there was a slim chance, but it’s good to help the county’s testing numbers at the very least.

The process was incredibly easy. I booked an appointment online for a Tuesday evening test at a local fire hall, so I could go right after work one day and get it done. When I arrived, everything was very well labeled and sanitized regularly for social distancing & health practices. (Of course, this being run by the county health department, I’d expect nothing less.) It was about 10 minutes from the time I walked in the door to when I walked out, including waiting in line for a short while to register. A simple blood draw (which did leave me with a nice bruise for several days, admittedly) and less than a week later, I had my results: negative for COVID-19 antibodies.

The next day, I decided to go get a COVID-19 test done. I had the day off from work and found a drive-through site in my neighborhood, no appointment required. Again, it took only about 10 minutes – the longest part was getting all the paperwork filled out. I didn’t ever have to step out of my car, and the process was pretty smooth. The test itself wasn’t bad at all – I want to make that clear. My eyes watered for a second after the nasal swab, but that was it. At this point, I’m still waiting for my results, but since I haven’t had any symptoms, I’m expecting it to be negative.

So why did I get a COVID-19 test? I had a day of stomach issues a few days prior to getting the test. In all honesty, it was likely because something in my freezer had gone bad while the power was out on a 90-degree day. I had also been pretty exhausted, but that, too can be attributed elsewhere: I’ve been filling in at a more physically-demanding job than my usual desk job, and my hours have been different, so my whole schedule is a bit out of wack. While all of this could be explained, my anxiety got into my head and worried that I might have it – and there wasn’t going to be any peace in my mind until I at least went for a test.

I went to a local urgent care facility first, but they had a whopping two hour wait to get a test! No thanks. The drive-up test was super easy and pretty much painless, and I encourage everyone to get tested if there’s even the slightest bit of your mind that says you should. Although what I was feeling was likely nothing, you can have the virus and be asymptomatic, or only have very minimal symptoms. Some places will only test you if you have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, but others will test you regardless, so if you’re going to search for a test, be aware of this. But honestly — I’m glad I did it. It’s worth the minimal amount of time I spent to have some peace of mind, help the county’s numbers and help science.

Isn’t it better, in all things, to know than to be left wondering?

Life in the Time of Corona, Vol. 1

What a year this week has been. It’s certainly felt like a year, hasn’t it? These are strange times we’re living in, friends. Every day feels surreal.

This week started out mostly normal. I went to work on Monday like usual, but even then, everything felt so….. tentative, like no one knew exactly what was going to happen next. The last few days at work were filled with proofreading press releases and mass emails and the like. School closures came and some things started to shut down, but like I said, I went to work on Monday like any other day. When I left at 4:30 pm, I could feel how tentative things were, and made sure I brought home anything from my desk that I thought I might need.

And then everything turned sideways.

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It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

If you’re looking for a sign, this is it. I’m telling you, right here, right now: it’s okay to not be okay. All too often nowadays, we feel this pressure to always be okay; to never feel down, never let ourselves feel ANYTHING; to always be cheerful and happy and upbeat. We feel pressure to always answer the question “How are you?” with “I’m fine/good/great/whatever” instead of the actual truth.

Starting today, allow yourself to truly feel whatever it is you’re feeling. It’s okay to be sad about losing a loved one, a friend moving away, a job change, finishing a good book, whatever. It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to be angry (as long as you aren’t physically hurting anyone.) It’s okay to be happy.

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The Love Letter Project

I’ve had this post saved in my drafts for some time, but I finally feel like I can dedicate the time it deserves. This post is a response to The Love Letter Project:

“Consider the greatest challenge you’ve overcome in life and write a love letter to help a perfect stranger overcome that same challenge. I’m asking you to write a love letter because your personal story will make a powerful difference in the lives of others. You could write a love letter to anyone: an entrepreneur who is struggling with her first business, a man who has lost his job, or a child who is being bullied at school. Write a love letter about a challenge you faced, and you will touch hearts, lift spirits, and show the world that no one is alone.”

My letter will be posted on TLLP’s website, but I wanted to post it here, too. It seems like the site hasn’t been updated in some time, but hopefully it will be soon. In the meantime, here’s my first letter – and I hope to write several more. This really seems like such a wonderful project, and reaching out to those who may be struggling with a challenge that you’ve overcome in your life is an absolutely wonderful way to help the world.

Without further ado, here’s my letter.

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The Journey of Recovery

Just over a year ago, I decided to be brave, suck up any bit of courage I had, and share my store of my struggles with all you lovely Internet folk. At the time, that was arguably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – but looking back, I’m glad that I did it. It’s been just over a year since I posted that piece about my struggles with depression, anxiety and counseling… and I thought it was time to check in, and see how this chapter of my life is going.

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