Stick that up your nose

There’s something I didn’t mention about visiting my friend who passed away. She was in a Melbourne hospital.

It was so freaky going to Sydney Airport for my flight. My sister was kind enough to give me a lift so I didn’t have to worry about public transport or breaking my single-mum budget. Walking into the terminal was unsettling – it was virtually empty, with just a handful of flights on the Departures & Arrivals boards. I was the only person going through security and everything was shuttered and dark on the other side.

It brought an unexpected tear to my eye because it was such a stark reminder that while we are in a non-COVID bubble in Sydney – for now – the world is very far from normal. I felt like I was in one of those sci-fi movies where everyone had been wiped out by aliens or a nuclear blast or zombies or something.

I wore a face mask for the flight and used lots of hand sanitiser.

It was equally silent at Melbourne Airport. There, my sister in law was kind enough to give me a lift so I didn’t have to worry about public transport or my single-mum budget. I was the sole person on the curb and her car was the only one outside. There wasn’t a cab in sight.

My sister in law lives on the exact opposite side of the city to the hot spot suburbs, so everything felt pretty normal there. Things were a bit less normal at the hospital, with temperature checks by staff in face masks at the entrance, but otherwise you could have been forgiven for thinking there wasn’t a pandemic.

Well, except when the youngest sent me this cheery text:

Going above and beyond the call of familial duty, my sister in law also drove me back to the airport on the Monday morning. It was a little busier at the airport by then and many people were wearing masks as they waited for their flights. I kept my hand sanitiser close at hand.

Back in Sydney, I caught the train home, being careful not to touch anything.

And then all hell broke loose in Melbourne and the situation has continued to escalate. I’ve followed the news obsessively, watching for any sign I might have visited somewhere with an outbreak. But I’ve been in the clear.

Well, I was until Thursday night, when the Nine News announced anyone that had been in Victoria after June 24 had to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. I didn’t sleep very well after that and felt obliged to get a COVID test the next morning to stop those around me felt fearful or nervous or paranoid.

I wasn’t happy about getting a COVID test because I was 99.9% certain I didn’t have the virus – I’d been very safety conscious while in Melbourne and, after 10 days back home, I hadn’t had any symptoms. And also because my first COVID test wasn’t much fun. But I rocked up and was pleasantly surprised to find it’s no longer a brain probe. Just an longish cotton bud dabbed on your throat (cue more gagging) and shoved vigorously up one nostril.

All done in 10 seconds, then home to self isolate while waiting for the results. My friend Alice was very kind and dropped a strong flat white on my doorstep on Friday morning so I could have my caffeine fix.

When I got home, I discovered Nine News had incorrectly reported on the situation.

The Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020, which began on Thursday, July 8, just requires anyone entering NSW from Victoria to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

The rule wasn’t being applied retrospectively. And no mention of COVID tests.

Right. Thanks Nine News.

But I shrugged my shoulders and resolved that having the COVID test meant no one had to feel panicked about being around me. Well, at least at this particular moment, as who knows what’s around the corner in this unsettling new world we live in.

And get this: my results came back the same day!

As I expected, my diagnosis was negative. I was asked to tick my symptoms before having the test. I didn’t have any, other than tiredness.

Obviously that’s not due to COVID-19. I’m putting it down to being in desperate need of a break. Though who knows how long we’ve got before we’re in lockdown again. The thought of having a “break” at home is pretty depressing considering I’ve been spending an average of 23 hours a day there for the past three months. The mere thought of sitting around the house leaves me feeling a bit tearful.

Hopefully Victoria and NSW will get the situation under control soon.

I have everything tightly crossed.

Oh, and guess what … the unnecessary COVID test had a silver lining. When my parents heard about my negative result they invited me to celebrate Dad’s birthday. It turns out they had a table for six booked at a Newcastle pub and my sister, hubby and nephew were driving up for lunch on Saturday.

Don’t you love a happy ending!

The negative result also means I’m allowed to go back to the office in two weeks time.

Hope your weekend had its happy moments.

Song of the day: Madonna “Holiday”


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