Heat struck my aching head from the overhead lights as I worked on the set for the upcoming opera. I was slightly dizzy and light-headed, no condition to be in a construction environment. I couldn’t even do simple math. I felt stupid when my boss asked me for measurements. I went home that night exhausted. I know 32 minus one and a half is 30.5. I am not stupid. I am just sick.

The next day I stayed home from work, and the day after that, I finally went to the emergency room. I had been too stubborn to actually take action until this point. I called Wartburg College security to drive me to the Waverly Health Center, and my girlfriend came with me.

“Have you been outside of the country in the past few weeks? and Are you experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?”

Emergency Room Form

My girlfriend and I walked into a family in tears; we guessed someone had passed. The lady at the front desk gave me a sheet with three “yes” or “no” questions. The last two were “have you been outside of the country in the past few weeks?” and “are you experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?” I checked “no” for the last two and gave it back.

They took a swab of my ears, nose and throat. A throat swab is testable for coronavirus as well as a blood sample, according to However, this test can take almost all day to bear viable results.

After getting x-rayed, the doctors concluded that I had “viral syndrome,” or an unnamed virus. It’s nothing serious. It’ll have me in bed for a few days, but if I take enough ibuprofen or Tylenol and drink a lot of water, I’ll be good.

A couple of days later, my girlfriend had to be taken to the emergency room because she inevitably caught what I had. Security drove us there and back. She went through the same drill. She told the lady at the front desk that she had a fever, so she got the three questions.

She marked “no” for the two about coronavirus. She had to tell the lady that she was an international student, and despite the fact that she hadn’t been home since August 2019, it seemed to raise suspicion.

We were put in an exam room and she had her nose, ear and throat swabbed, but she also had her blood drawn, which I thought was odd. My blood had not been drawn, and we had the same symptoms. She did not have an x-ray, and we were able to leave in less than two hours.

I do not know if her blood was drawn for a coronavirus test. It was up to the doctor to determine if either of us had signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and whether we should’ve been tested, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Afterward, the doctors told us the same thing: take Tylenol and ibuprofen to keep the fever down and drink a lot of water. He also told us to gargle saltwater to help with the sore throat.

We left that night confused, but still certain that we were fine. Besides, if we were suspected of having coronavirus, we believe we would have been quarantined.


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