I had a bit of a flashback to about five months ago, inspired by something I just did. The activities are very similar, but in another sense could not differ more.

About six months ago, Heike and I decided we would have another child. I will not explain the details here, but at some point in the following month, Heike was convinced. She was most certain that she was pregnant. The signs were so clear, that we almost thought we would not need a pregnancy test. Only to make it official, she bought a test and after hanging it in a cup of lukewarm urine for a bit, we were now two minutes away from confirmation that we would become parents a second time. The control line quickly appeared, and while we were waiting for the test line to appear, and the test result to turn positive, the second line never came. We were so convinced that it would be, but it wasn’t. Well, better luck next time. And indeed, the next month we had more luck with a second test that was a lot more positive.

Today, we received a package in the mail, which was something that we had ordered about a week ago. The package contained a series of SARS-CoV-2 Antigen self tests. Even though our family has been pretty isolated during the lockdowns. For instance, Heike is not allowed to come to office (pregnant women are considered a higher risk category in terms of disease symptoms). However, there are a few critical situations where I have to meet people, that are hard to avoid. First of all, I have to give several people that I work with some instructions that are hard to demonstrate via Zoom, for instance lab and greenhouse work. I also need to visit the research greenhouses, to check out my plant babies, and discuss plant conditions with the gardeners on site. At the university I enter rooms that others enter, I touch surfaces that others touch. I also see my therapist every week and we both agreed that a mask hinders the process (facial expressions, etc.). For all of these things we keep distance, and mostly use FFP2 masks, but nevertheless, it is not completely impossible that I could pick up ‘something’ along the way. To protect Heike and Rafa, my team, and ultimately myself, I just feel that it is a responsible act to test myself every now and then.

As my son Rafa has been sick since the previous weekend, which included a night of fever earlier this week, followed by some rough nights with early rise mornings, I today feel somewhere in between ‘I am getting sick’, ‘I have hay fever’ and ‘I haven’t slept’. I can’t tell if it’s viral or I should just take a good long nap. In any case, I was happy to swab my nasal cavities gently with the weird brushy q tip provided with the tests. I have had a test before at the general practitioner’s, but doing a swab to yourself is a next-level life skill. It somehow feels like your tickling your pituitary gland, or whatever is the closest brain area within reach of a swab. The procedure that followed reminded me very much of the pregnancy tests, even though I never had to piss in a cup. After dripping on some of the extraction buffer with your nasal ooze, you have to wait. Quickly, the control line appears. The wait that followed is of a different sentiment. It also takes 15 minutes instead of 2. I wasn’t very disappointed that the second test line never came. As a former US president quite memorably put it: “I’m positive. That is. I’m positively negative. The test came negative.”

We won’t be needing ‘better luck next time’, thank you.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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