The one thing I CAN do while I wait for my COVID-19 test to come back

Um, so this is awkward.

I don’t feel well.

It began last night.

I have a little fever – nothing major, but major *enough* and *definitely* major for me.

My chest feels like I’ve inhaled an entire forest fire – or like my lungs have been branded by a rusty horseshoe.

And I’m tired. I’m so tired. Just sitting makes me tired.

I know, I know: It may just be “a summer cold” or “Strep throat,” or “allergies” or “the beginning of seasonal flu,” but this just feels different.

So, I called the doctor and described my symptoms and he ordered and test.

Its a drive-through testing  center smack dab in the middle of Israel  – hundreds of cars lined up, but it’s Israel so there’s honking and shouting and obviously that one jackass who cuts in at the front of the line.

The tester wore a blur plastic gown and a mask and a shield. He stuck a Long q-tip up my nose and down my throat.

The nose poke made me cringe, and I yelped.

Afterwards, I put my mask back on and I thanked him for being there – it’s gotta be scary for the people out there administering the COVID-19 tests.

There were easily five hundred cars waiting in line to get swabbed, and even those of us who don’t have COVID-19, may still be sick with something else.  You don’t just run a fever because mercury is in retrograde, kids.

The odds are not in anyone’s favor right now

And the COVID-19 MDA employees  are out there in the heat and the sun, armed only with their q-tips and their plastic face shields and they are heroes.  Heroes with their own families and fears who are  putting themselves in harms way for us – total strangers, fellow travelers.

And still many of us can’t even be bothered to wear
our masks the right way.

People wearing face masks as they shop at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on September 4, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Anyway: I’m in “bidud” – quarantine – now. Laying low, and feeling like I’ve been run over by a garbage truck twice and then hit in the face with a soggy tree branch and then peed on by a jackal with a UTI.

I’m not going anywhere.

But I’ve been out in the world this week. I’ve grocery shopped and had coffee and went to restaurants. I hugged a friend with our masks on.

and right now, I feel helpless and frightened and like my spinning out of control.

But there is something I can do: I can tell people.

And until I have my results, I’m reaching out to the folks  I’ve seen and spent time with over the last week or so to let them know that I may be sick and they may be, too.

And yeah. It’s awkward AF.

And yeah, I feel ashamed – the scourge of the community, marked and vile. A pox upon my house!

(I imagine telling a former romantic partner that you’ve tested positive for an STI must feel a lot like this, too. Awkward. But necessary.)

And it’s also the right thing to do.

Ok, I know, I may be needlessly scaring the people I saw, but if they have vulnerable people in their lives – an elderly father or a best friend who is going through chemo – they can take this account even before my results are back.

And if I’m fine, then great. Yay! We can laugh about how neurotic I am! I am perfectly ok with that.

And if I’m not ok… well, then I know I’m doing my best to keep this relatively contained.

We live in a world where we’ve lost trust in our leaders, our communities, our neighbors, and even in our future. But being  socially responsible even when it isn’t convenient or easy or comfortable helps us regain that trust.

So I’m telling you all this because I hope if you’re ever feeling sick – even if you aren’t in quarantine or getting tested – you’d do the same for me and for anyone else you’ve been in contact with.  It’s  not fun and easy (believe you me) but it can help prevent more damage and we must do our part to contain this as best we can.

Your health is my health and my health is your health and we have to trust each other as we navigate these uncertain waters, and this is how we do that, one awkward conversation at a time.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel, She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems. She now lives in Israel with her two kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She also loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.