Day 7: Negative

My test results came back today: negative for the coronavirus.

On behalf of my lungs, I’m happy — no damage there, at least, not from this intruder. On behalf of my husband, who’s exposed enough as it is, I rejoice — I haven’t increased his risk of getting sick.

And for all those who I told and who congratulated me — thank you. Happy texts and smiling emojis are always appreciated.

Still, I’m confused. My test may be negative, but my cough and fatigue came back this morning, before I got the results. So what does that mean? I spent most of the last week — including much of today — in bed. What’s that about?

The test has a 30 percent false negative rate at best, according to an article in today’s New York Times. So maybe I do have it? Or maybe I have something else, and it’s still waiting out there for me, ready to get me truly ill?

There’s so much about this time that we don’t know, and don’t understand. How do you shut down a city the size of Los Angeles, and expect it to come bouncing right back, like Tigger on his springy tail, once the virus recedes? How do you not hug your friends? Not see your friends? When you lose your job, how do you keep food on the table and a roof over your head?

Here’s one that nags at me: when your pocketbook hasn’t been affected yet, what do you owe those in society who are struggling? How much money should I give away? To whom should I be of service?

And finally, this: how worried should I be when my husband calls me, as he did just now, to say he’s going to be working in the hospital this week after all? Not because the coronavirus numbers are up. No — because another doctor cut her hand, and doesn’t feel she can sufficiently wash it due to the injury. Good news is he won’t be on the COVID ward. Bad news: there is a COVID ward, in the same building.

So many unknowns. We thought when we felt the earth shake under our feet, we would be measuring its force on the Richter scale. Turns out, there are many kinds of earthquakes, not all of them easily quantifiable.