And as I swabbed my nose…

Friday afternoon, for some reason, I was coughing and hacking like a chainsmoker. Ugh.

I hope I’m not coming down with a cold.

And then it occurred to me.

It might not be a cold.

It could be … oh, I don’t want to say it.

But it can’t be that. It can’t. I’ve been triple-Pfizered. I wear a mask everywhere i go. I’m careful as anything.

And then it dawned on me. There are these strains called breakthrough infections. In Star Trek parlance, COVID is like the Borg. You can stop them for a moment, but then they adapt, and next thing you know, resistance is futile.

Okay. I looked online for testing sites and places where at-home kits were available.

Nothing. Not a damn thing. There were sites for testing, but they required appointments. There was an independent pharmacy on Central Avenue in Albany, which had open testing, but only for the first 50 people per day.

Okay. Get in the car, drive to downtown Albany, and …

There was a line of at least 100 people waiting for the pharmacy to open its doors. Nuts.

Okay, let’s see who has at-home tests available.

And after bouncing from pharmacy to pharmacy, and following lead after lead, I discovered that the CVS across from Albany Medical Center still had several BinaxNOW COVID-19 take-home test kits available.

I went in. “I’d like to purchase some COVID testing kits, please.”

“How many would you like?” the pharmacist said, with a soft, reassuring voice that told me she knew I was concerned.

“Two, please,” I replied, thinking that if I have a positive test, I’d like to try for a second opinion.

“These boxes come with two tests apiece. Do you want two boxes, or two tests?”

$23.99 later, I acquired a BinaxNOW testing box with two test kits inside.

Okay. Follow the instructions.

And as I’m preparing the test card and dabbing the antigen drops into the card receptacle, I’m thinking to myself … I don’t want to die from COVID. I don’t. Not gonna lie. I’m more scared than a balloon in a sewing needle factory.

Okay. Swab the nostril five times, then swab the other nostril five times. If nothing else, I don’t have to shove it all the way into my brain, so there’s that.

Put the swab into the test card, seal the test card, and wait 15 minutes.

Man, I wish my Grandma Betty were still around. She’s be in the kitchen right now, chopping up carrots and creating matzo ball soup for me. Because as everybody knows, matzo ball chicken soup is the cure-all for anything that ails you. I’d bet it could probably cure COVID, but there’s too many people out there chomping on a mixture of horse dewormer and sheep drench and washing it down with lukewarm piss to convince them otherwise.

Okay. 15 minutes are up. If I look at the card … two lines says I have COVID, one line says it’s not COVID. Okay. God, I feel like I just took a home pregnancy test.

All right. Deep breath. And …

One line. I’m not pregnant.

Okay. Whew. Big sigh of relief. For now.

I still have another COVID test kit in here. So three days later, I repeated the process. Another nose swab. Stuck it in the test card. Waited 15 minutes. Counted the lines.

There weren’t two lines. All I had was the common cold.

Whew. For now.

I mean, right now I’m totally scared of what COVID can do. Or who it can infect, or what kind of damage the infection can cause. I have friends of mine who tested positive for COVID. And I’m scared for them. I hope they make speedy recoveries.

And then there are people in my life for whom I fear COVID’s damages the most. Elderly friends. Those who are immunocompromised. Babies who can’t even get a vaccine until they’re five years old at the bare minimum. And those who catch COIVID and, although they don’t die, they develop Long COVID, which creates brain fogginess, motor control weakness and general mental and emotional deterioration.

We are nowhere near a cure for COVID. All we can do is vaccinate, wear masks, and look out for each other.

Can we do that? Please??