Terry's swab story 

Shelley Terry

In a procedure I only imagined ever undergoing if I’m abducted by aliens, a nurse stuck a giant cotton swab up my nose Wednesday morning.

It tickled my brain, which was quite unpleasant. My eyes started twitching and I wondered if I was being lobotomized.

Of course, I’m talking about the COVID-19 test.

It all started Tuesday afternoon at work, when my throat started to hurt. 

“I think I’m getting sick,” I said.

My faithful co-workers immediately started treating me like a leper.

“Stay away!” they warned. 

“I don’t have COVID,” I insisted, but they persisted.

I went home and called the doctor, who scheduled me for a COVID test the next morning. 

My condition steadily worsened overnight. 

At the doctor’s office, I was told to return to my vehicle and wait for a nurse to come out. It wasn’t long before she appeared in a Haz-Mat suit holding a cotton swab made for an elephant. 

My nose wasn’t having it.

My head kept uncontrollably jerking every time she got near me with that [what appeared to be] a six-foot long swab.

“Don’t look at me,” she said. “Look straight ahead.”

“Isn’t there somewhere else you can stick it?” I said.

She gave me a look.

“No! Not there!” I said, laughing.

Well, she got that thing up my nose, past my eyeballs and into my brain. Really!

Faithful readers know I would never exaggerate.

When it was over, I sneezed and coughed and blew my nose.

For the remainder of the day, my condition grew steadily worse and I was convinced I had COVID and the end was near.

Not so! The nurse called and my test was negative.

The verdict: severe sinus infection. 

The doctor loaded me up with drugs to help unstuff my stuffy head. 

My face and ears ached and I coughed my head off Wednesday night, getting only about an hour’s sleep from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Thursday. 

“Please call me in some good cough syrup,” I said, calling the doctor’s office at 8:01 a.m. “Give me something with codeine or even morphine!”

An hour later, a prescription for cough syrup awaited me at the drug store.

My faithful co-workers called to see how I was feeling.

I told them to make me a reservation at the funeral home of their choice. 

By Thursday afternoon, I had gathered a plenteous supply of pills, a bottle of Vicks, nasal spray and a bowl of hot soup. I endured the rough day but I got a good night’s sleep, thanks to the cough syrup.

When I woke up Friday morning, my sinus infection had changed addresses: moving from my head to my chest.


“If I can make it to my desk, I can sit and write,” I thought.

Then, guess what? I got to my desk and my nose started to bleed. No doubt from my nose running like a river for the past three days and my robust honking and blowing.

The blood ran out all over me, my white desk calendar and white keyboard. It was like the movie, “Carrie.”

“Stuff a tissue up your nose,” one co-worker suggested.

“Pinch your nose,” said another.

Good grief.

When I finally got it to stop, I thanked God it was Friday.

Shelley Terry does seem to have her share of medical problems — broken ankle (twice), broken collarbone, migraines, bleeding ulcer ... well, need we go on?

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