taking stock after (finally) testing negative for COVID 19
It was a test I really wanted to fail. And I did. Twice.
Almost one month to the day from when my symptoms first appeared, my third COVID 19 test was finally negative. And a couple of days later they retested me. Still negative. They are looking for two negatives because the possibility of a false negative is very high—almost 30%. I got these results in less than 24 hours while my first test took 12 days.
I was happy to tell family and friends that I had a negative result. I posted the lab report on Facebook to general thanksgiving and acclaim. I wasn’t surprised by the result, because I was feeling better and symptoms had disappeared but it still felt good to get the “official” result, not because I felt any better but because others could feel better about me. Frankly, it felt like a cloud hanging over me. Now I can go to the store. And give plasma with antibodies to help others.
Katie, who was retested over the weekend, also has a negative test. She had milder symptoms than I did but is also feeling better, and we are looking forward to full recovery. Maybe we can go to Costco next week. With a mask, of course. But for now, there are people to thank and conclusions to draw. Here are a few:
I have good friends. Notes, texts, likes, comments—over and over again we have been encouraged by the flood of prayers and good wishes. It is good to be loved, respected, and known. These include former students, church family, co-workers, neighbors. Even strangers. I was humbled.
I have good colleagues. My associate Terri carried the load while I was sick, encouraging my graduate students, answering their questions, calming their fears. Their fears were not about me—they have unknowns and adjustments of their own. Her care for them exceeded mine, even when I’m well. And she and my dean Dorie checked on me every day before many others even knew I was sick. They solved problems and managed details I was too sick to think about. Administrators checked on me and prayed for me. I felt loved by the people I work with. Spring Arbor University is a great place to work.
I had good care. Our doctor talked to us on the phone several times. Tele-monitoring, home care nurses, the COVID 19 response team at Henry Ford Allegiance, the doctors and nurses at the ER at St. Joseph Mercy— I was treated well by brave and kind professionals. This care was exceptional. Also humbling.
I have a good wife. My blog post after I started getting better describes her faith and support. She set glasses of water beside the bed and reminded me to drink one every half hour. She fixed meals and sat outside the door to the room while I ate them. Or at least when I could eat them. She prayed and encouraged, outside our bedroom and while sitting outside in the parking lot when I went to the emergency room and she couldn’t go in. She was positive, insistent, tireless, and fearless. Scripture says in Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD (ESV).” I am blessed and I know it.
I have a great God. For a disease with no treatment, and for a man with underlying issues, healing comes from above. I can’t answer difficult questions about this, about why I’m well and others died. I’m just grateful for the Lord’s mercy. Again. I’ve been much sicker, but never more grateful. The Lord strengthened me then. And now. I can’t help but praise Him.
Throughout this experience, Katie and I have been reading Spurgeon’s daily devotional, Faith’s Checkbook. Some days it was all I could read, but several times the promise seemed exactly right for our time and circumstance. On April 13 the text was Psalm 47:4— “He shall choose our inheritance for us.” Spurgeon writes:
“Being conscious of our own folly, we would not desire to rule our own destinies. We feel safer and more at ease when the LORD steers our vessel than we could possibly be if we could direct it according to our own judgment. Joyfully we leave the painful present and the unknown future with our Father, our Savior, our Comforter.”
Much is unknown about this virus. How long does my hard-won immunity last? When can people safely come into our home? How will it affect my health over time? When will I be able to go all day without taking a nap?
But for now, I’m more interested in the answers than the questions. A negative test is an answer, an answered prayer, a chosen inheritance, and a moment of grace.
It is enough.