Our experience with COVID-19 testing

Here's the thing. I expected not to have to deal with any colds this school year. Even though everyone talks about "cold and flu" season. My perspective is that these illnesses go up in the fall and winter because we spend more time inside with other people, we are breathing other's germs and touching surfaces - that's how colds are typically spread.

With the safety guidelines in place including washing hands more often, I didn't think the kids would have as much opportunity to spread their regular germs to each other, but of course I was wrong.

COVID-19 Test #1: October 2

A few weeks into the school year my Grade 7 son came home with a cold. I was not too worried about it until he developed a fever. At that time the fever seemed to be one of the "defining" symptoms of COVID-19 and Bill was going on a work trip (the first one in almost a year).

We decided to go get tested ASAP. We live fairly close to Peace Arch Hospital which is a testing site. You can walk in or make an appointment, but they basically zoomed out the door on the Sunday morning.

Now you won't get tested if you don't have symptoms. As Bill didn't seem to have any serious symptoms, they would not test him until he told them that yes, he does have a runny nose. Marshall did the swish test and he did the traditional giant Q-tip test. He came home complaining about it until I said "Oh yes, it's uncomfortable also when women get their cervixes scraped with those giant Q-tips as well, on an annual basis from the age of 13."

There's a number you can call as well as signing up for text alerts. Everyone stayed home until the tests came back all clear. The test was taken on Saturday morning, and being a walk in with no appointment took about 3 hours of waiting. (When I say walk-in - you drive into the parking lot and they will come to your car to assess and communicate. You don't go inside until they are ready for the test.) The result came by text 2 days later - Monday around 9:30 AM.

COVID-19 Test #2: November 7

Next up we have Remy. She complained of a sore throat on Thursday morning. We get that a lot around here - these Robbins kids sleep with their mouth open pretty often and it feels dry when you first wake up. She seemed fine otherwise so I sent her off to school, she was fine then and after school. Toward bedtime she started slowing down, seeming tired and flushed. Friday was a Pro-D and she was definitely ill. Like puking ill. "Luckily", I had booked the day off. At the time I didn't know that the vomiting was now on the list of symptoms. Once her temperature went up I booked an appointment online with Fraser Health at Peace Arch.

Easy to book online, Saturday night I got an appointment for Sunday morning. It took about 40 minutes all in. It is doctors administering the test and the doctor thought she might have strep so she was able to test for that at the same time as the COVID test. The gargle test is a bit stressful as if they don't do it correctly they don't get a second chance. I was like a stage mom cheering on as she went through 3 cycles of swish, gargle, swish. At that time the doctor said there was a backlog and it could take up 72 hours or more for results.

I did not even expect a result anytime soon so I didn't bother inputting the information until Monday morning around 7AM. As soon as I put in the information I got a text saying "Test Results Available" and the results came in less than 24 hours! (again, negative). Thank god because we haven't had an exposure yet at the school and I didn't want to be the one who had sent in my sore throated COVID+ child!

What you need to know (as of Nov. 22)

You won't be tested if you don't have symptoms or have not been contacted by Fraser Health. You can use this assessment.

If you live in the Fraser Health region you can book online here. It will give you real-time information on how many appointments are booked at each site and if they are accepting drop-ins currently. Kids over 3 months can be tested at any of these sites; under 3 months will need to visit the doctor.

While earlier this month Vancouver Coastal Health approved the saline gargle for adults, Fraser Health still reserves the gargle for children ages 5-17 (this may vary). There's a video you can watch with your children to show how to do the gargle test. If your kid doesn't do the gargle correctly they will end up doing the swab.

I am grateful to the kind and caring staff at Peace Arch and for how easy the appointment was and how fast the results came in. Good luck to all the brave kids out there.

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