On Saturday I woke with an awful headache. I’ve got used to these sorts of things as my tolerance for alcohol has collapsed over lockdown. I’ve even experienced the single-drink hangover, which has meant I’ve not been drinking at all recently.
Being hungover from not drinking seems unfair, and suggested something was wrong. I slept much of the day, but continued feeling worse until, a little after dark, I vomitted my guts empty. Lovely. I felt fine the next day, but when I put the symptoms into the Zoe Covid Symptom App, I was told to get a covid test.
After reading so much about the testing system, it was interesting to experience the process. Firstly, covid tests are still not available to everyone who wants them. You have to be referred for one, or declare covid symptoms. On my first journey through the website, I answered one of the questions wrongly and was told I wasn’t eligible (the question was about whether I’d been told to get one by an official research project, which it turns out Zoe is).
The next problem was actually booking the test. I could have a home test, which would be a few days turnaround, during which I needed to isolate. The other option was to go to a test centre, the nearest of which was 3.5 miles from my house. Given that, as a suspected covid patient, I wasn’t to use taxis or public transport, this meant walking or cycling. The walk was not a problem for me, but I can see it being a barrier to some people.
The test centre itself was very quiet and I was quickly processed. The staff onsite were excellent; efficient and polite. It reminded me a little of a festival. I was met by some bored security guards, who sent me down a plastic path over grass to the railings of an empty queueing area. Following that through, I found myself in a large white tent. I was a little surprised at having to self-administer the test, which was actually a less unpleasant task than I’d expected.
The test results came through 24 hours later: negative. I isolated for a couple more days, and will be heading back to the office today.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list