INDIANAPOLIS — My wife became ill.
It was on a Friday, just after the first coronavirus case was discovered in Indiana. She took our dog outside. The night was cool, but not cold, yet she felt chilled.
We had houseguests — family visiting from out of town — so she did the responsible thing. She isolated herself in our bedroom and spent the weekend wrapped in blankets, sipping fluids. She felt achy, had a cough, experienced nausea and ran a low-grade fever.
Monday, she went to our doctor. Given the timing and the circumstances, the doctor’s office called the health department to see if she should have the coronavirus test.
The health department said no.
She went back home, still sick.
On Tuesday, she called the health department herself.
Still no test.
She seemed to rally on Wednesday, but Thursday she felt even worse. By Friday, she had lost a lot of weight and felt weak and tired all the time.
We went back to the doctor.
The doctor’s office took blood tests and sent her to get X-rays. We got them, then went home.
The doctor’s office called a little later. They wanted her to come back in.
The X-rays showed pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the ways coronavirus attacks the body.
Now, she was going to be tested.
When we arrived at the doctor’s office, a nurse practitioner came to get us. The nurse-practitioner wore a huge face mask, gloves and other hazmat garb. She gave both my wife and me masks. They covered our entire faces, including our eyes.
When we walked to the examining room where my wife was to be tested, the rest of the staff in the doctor’s office backed away.
The nurse-practitioner did the test, which consisted of two deep swabs, one in the nose and the other in the mouth. She prescribed an antibiotic for the pneumonia and instructed us to go the emergency room if my wife didn’t begin feeling better by the next day. She said we should have the test results within 24 to 48 hours.
Friday night and Saturday were rough. By Saturday afternoon, it was clear things weren’t improving. We went to the hospital.
The emergency room staff members were kind and solicitous, just as the folks at the doctor’s office had been. They gave my wife some fluids and antibiotics by IV. They took another X-ray.
It revealed the pneumonia was worse.
My wife would stay at the hospital.
We asked about the coronavirus test results. The first 24 hours had passed. We should have them soon, the folks at the hospital said.
They wheeled my wife to her room. I went home because the hospital allowed no visitors outside the ER — not even spouses.
The next day, both our doctor and the nurse practitioner called. I asked about the test results. The results should be here soon, they said.
Monday came. The hospital released my wife. Her discharge instructions called for a 14-day quarantine if the tests results were positive for coronavirus.
We asked when the test results would arrive.
No one knew.
We heard stories not only of a lack of test kits, but of the chemicals needed to make the tests work.
Tuesday rolled around.
We called our doctor. She said she and her staff checked for the test results several times a day. They kept being told the results were pending. They were as frustrated as we were, because determining treatment was difficult without knowing the ailment.
In the five days since my wife had been tested — and the nine days since our doctor first requested that she be tested — the coronavirus crisis exploded. New cases popped up everywhere.
First one by one.
Then by the dozen.
Then the hundred.
Then the thousand.
Late Wednesday, we finally got the results.
Negative, thank God.
My wife’s recovering now — again, thank God.
The doctors, nurses and staff at both our doctor’s office and the hospital were saints. They labored without stint to care for her, battling without solid information to help her get better. Somehow, they did it.
Some other family — many other families — may not be so fortunate.
The president of the United States says we’re on top of this crisis — that we’ve solved the testing problem.
Do not believe him.