When battling a summer cold, a painless test to rule out COVID-19 helps provide peace of mind. (Jennifer Bardsley)

When battling a summer cold, a painless test to rule out COVID-19 helps provide peace of mind. (Jennifer Bardsley)

When you get a cold even though you’re still wearing a mask

She stocked up on over-the-counter medicine at Walgreens after getting a drive-thru COVID-19 test.

In a post-2020 world, picking up a germ feels like a failure of good manners and hygiene. I am almost ashamed to admit this — I have a cold. I keep looking back and wondering where I went wrong.

Did I not wash my hands enough? I swear I did. Did I grocery shop without a mask? Never. Did I eat out at a restaurant? Yes, actually, but I kept my mask on while walking to my table. Who knows where I picked up this bug that’s now attached to my lungs?

Before 2020, I wouldn’t have thought twice about leaving the house with a head cold. But now I’m staying home in self-imposed lockdown.

Nobody else in my family has gotten sick. While I’m grateful for their good health, I’m also a bit peeved that I’m in this alone. Well, not quite alone. The dog keeps me company. Merlin won’t leave my side and has never — not once — complained about me breathing on him.

“I think you should get a COVID test, just to be sure,” my husband told me, after three nights of him sleeping on the couch because I was coughing so much.

“But I’m fully vaccinated,” I protested.

“You might be a breakthrough case,” he said. “If you have COVID, the rest of us should stay at home, too.”

He had a point. Plus, being tested would allow me to dust off that infamous 2020 phrase “out of an abundance of caution.” So, out of an abundance of caution, I made an appointment for a COVID Antigen test at a drive-thru Walgreens. I was willing to be tested, but wanted to avoid the brain scraping PCR test I’d experienced a few months ago while in the hospital with amnesia.

On Sunday, I scheduled my appointment for the following morning. On Monday, I drove up to the Walgreens window, swabbed my nostrils, and handed back the tube. My results came back within the hour. The entire process was simple, fast and free.

“See?” I told my husband when I read the results. “I don’t have COVID. You can stop calling me Typhoid Mary.”

“What a relief,” he said.

He was right — it was a relief. Especially since our daughter is only half-vaccinated. She still has one more shot before she becomes an official member of House Pfizer. There are millions of children like her in America, depending on adults like me to make wise decisions to protect them.

Even though I don’t have COVID, I still have a cold to fight. I alternate between taking over-the-counter medicine and becoming a zombie who can breathe, or clearing the meds from my system and succumbing to a coughing fit. It’s not the way I want to spend summer, but I stay home to protect my neighbors’ health.

I’m also glad I got tested because I want Washington to have all the data it needs to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you have the sniffles and would like information about drive-thru COVID testing, visit the Snohomish Health District website for more information at www.snohd.org.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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