What's it like to have a coronavirus test

Morning all! I am feeling that kind of chipper I feel when a procedure I wasn’t looking forward to is over and done with, and today that procedure was as short as they come – a coronavirus test. I was apprehensive about getting it and did a little search online beforehand to try to gauge what it was going to be like, so I thought I’d write up my experience here in case it helps someone else who’s also looking and has anxiety about these things like I do.

Why do I need a coronavirus test?

The reason for my test is that I’m having my annual flexi sig (like a colonoscopy but only for my internal pouch) on Wednesday. Because it’s quite an up-close-and-personal procedure, they required me to have a coronavirus test today (Sunday) and I and my household need to self-isolate until I go in for my appointment on Wednesday.

What happens at a coronavirus test?

There is a drive-in test centre at my local hospital and they asked me to get there between 10am and 12pm. I’m guessing this time slot is just for people who have been asked to come because they are having a procedure done at the hospital in a few days (though I’m not 100% sure). In my appointment letter for my flexi sig, there were directions to the covid test, which was well signposted when we got there.  There were a couple of cars there already. When we pulled up to the area, a guy with a clipboard asked if I was here due to having a procedure next week, and he asked for my surname. Then he told us to park up in one of the bays and said he would send someone out to us.

A woman in full PPE came to the car window, asked me to confirm my name and date of birth, and explained what was going to happen. She said it would be unpleasant but not painful. I’ve heard that before, to be honest, about other procedures, and it had been very inaccurate – but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case this time.  She said the test would make my eyes water and make me gag a bit.

What does a covid swab test feel like?

The woman asked me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue, and she put a swab in my mouth. It went quite far back and made me gag, but as soon as I did gag, it was done. Then she put a swab (I heard it would be the same swab but I really wasn’t paying attention to that when she did it) up each nostril. It did go quite far up and made my nose feel funny for a little while afterwards, like I needed to sneeze. And my eyes did water so I was crying a bit while she was telling us the way out of the car park! Good thing my partner was driving and not me because I was paying no attention at all to her directions.

When do you hear back about your coronavirus test results?

The woman said if the test was negative, I wouldn’t hear from anyone, but if it was positive they would be in touch. So I’m hoping not to get a phone call so that my procedure can go ahead as planned (and so I don’t have to worry about having infected anyone else while being asymptomatic with covid, eep). I believe I would hear something within two days if it were positive, but fingers crossed all is well.

Should you be worried about having a covid test?

No! If you need to have a covid swab test, please try not to worry about it, at least in terms of what it feels like when you’re having one. In my experience, it’s not painful as such. It is uncomfortable, but it takes less than a minute – the woman probably spent more time talking to me about what was going to happen and then how to get out of the car park than she did actually sticking the swab in my mouth and up my nose. When I was first told I would need to have a covid test before my hospital procedure, I was worried about it because I’d seen a photo of a man (I think a military man) having the test and by the look on his face it seemed absolutely horrific. I can’t find the photo now but it was nothing like that at all. Of course, experiences vary between different countries, hospitals, people giving the test, and the person receiving the test.  But it’ll be over before you know it. I hope this has helped if you are anxious at all about the test – please don’t put off the test or any hospital procedures you might need, and if you are anxious, do let the staff know so they can try to put you at ease. As usual, the staff at the hospital were all absolutely wonderful.