• Eric O'Dell

I TESTED POSITIVE


Asklepios figure, God of Medicine from Epidaurus, Greece

Charcoal, 17 x 14 inches


· Full time Professor

· Father, Husband (two young ladies, both attending the university I teach at in the fall)

· No symptoms of any merit since the pandemic set in

· Was tested at a free event, at a local church, on June 26. It took two and a half hours of waiting (I’m grateful)

· July 7, informed that my test was positive

I have been taking appropriate measures since the initial impact of COVID in mid-March on our daily routines. Washing my hands and wearing a mask have become habit. For the most part, and especially before restrictions were eased, my days consisted of an early morning 5 mile run, a day at my art studio (all alone on the empty third floor of a building, above an empty second floor and a first floor where a bar was completely shut-down for a couple of months). I’d go home and spend the rest of my day with my family at home, counting lightening bugs and relishing a good IPA.

My wife’s church hosted a free testing event on June 26 and I thought what the heck. It was an arduous wait, then a swab was plunged into my nose, and off I went. I checked daily for a message on the results and otherwise went about my business. I did go shopping and yes, I saw a couple of friends and had a couple of meals out after my test. Not a perfect adherence to protocols for sure. I will say that wearing a mask is such a part of my routine now that I’m often halfway home while driving when I realize I still have it on.

No sniffles, no headaches, no loss of smell, no loss of taste (IPA test nearly every day!)- no aches, no temperature- and I kept checking for messages about the results every day.

A phone call came early afternoon yesterday as I was working on a project at my studio. The nice lady asked me how I was doing and I said ‘I’m all good.’ Then she said my test came back positive. I sat down, asked some questions, was told I may get possible tracing calls (none so far), and we ended the call. Alone in my un-airconditioned studio, blank phone in my hand with a blank space in my head that began to fill up with names.

My wife. My girls. My god, it’s a brief and terrible moment of mental list making.

My friends- a former student, a colleague and neighbor with a beautiful toddler. The guy who might paint my house, a daughter’s friend who came by- I did a building tour with colleagues about safe distancing (fully masked, but still-). I contacted my brothers. I called my dad, because he needed to know but who the hell wants to worry their old man about their son having this god-forsaken virus?

I set up an appointment to tele-med with my university’s testing program (almost brand new, and with lab access on campus, which I live next to). After a virtual conversation it seems I am all good- 10 days of no symptoms meant I was in the clear, and it took 10 days to get the test results. I’m touching base with folks I was worried about after the initial call yesterday. Some basic things I have learned and been told:

· If asymptomatic after 10 days, you should be ok

· Asymptomatic folks are less likely to spread the virus (perhaps the jury is still out on this, ‘less likely’ is not the most re-assuring of terms)

· You can test positive months after having active virus

· When I asked about antibody testing, I was advised to wait a couple weeks. I am interested in the blood transfusion therapy and was advised to check with Red Cross

It is shameful that testing is so inexcusably random and unavailable to everyone.

It is harrowing that there are still so many false positives and positive negatives.

It is absurd that results can take longer than the advised shelter in place for a positive result.

The lack of standards and availability of testing, the lazy cowardice and selfishness of not wearing a mask (I am southern, it is rude not to), the politicization of school openings, and the mealy-mouthed willful and partisan ignorance of our leadership is an indictment of the very age we live in.

When I got the positive results, I had zero thoughts or concerns about the economy.

I’ve spent the past 24 hours in a low grade apprehensive terror. Collectively, we have spent that past 4 months in an embarrassing theater of the absurd.

In the wise words of Jason Isbell:

My daddy told me I believe he told me true That the right things always the hardest thing to do

You tube medical advice is too easy, and lazy.

Meme sharing is its own form of virus, and it’s lazy.

Be quiet.

Check sources.

Hear and see what you may not want to. Doctors are trained and disciplined to work with patients. We must be respectful with our own patience and discipline.

Not wearing a mask is freedom from responsibility, wearing one is a freedom for doing right by your fellow man and woman. And kids. And Grandparents. It’s the right thing to do.

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© 2023 by Eric O'Dell