One of my child appeared lethargic, has runny nose and cough one fine mid-Q1 2021 Saturday morning. I felt chest pains at about the same time. These are not a happy sensation to have as we near the wider distribution of a vaccine for this pandemic that has killed half a million people in the United States of America so far. So I made appointments to get tested.
Before going, my child asked me if it was painful. I told her I think it is. This assessment is based on every single image of a nasal swap I have seen on TV evening news. Every reporting of this shows the insertion of a swab up into a person’s nose until only a small length of it, long enough for the administrator of the test to hold between their thumb and index finger, remain outside. A particularly alarming observation from the perspective of an Asian man, is that this happens even on very large white noses. I say that with no intention of offense at people with large, or white, nose. It’s just that what seems uncomfortable to insert into the nostrils of a large nose must be horrifically painful for our smaller Asian noses.
So, after much deliberation, we went and got swabbed. Perhaps it is due to the media reporting, but the parking lot where we got our swab test in Stanford, CA was nearly empty. The single patron driving up behind us was very impatient and honked for no obvious reasons. Other than that, the swab test was very very easy. There is no pain. My child, who has even smaller and smaller nose than I, for now knock on wood, enjoyed it more than I. I think adult nose hairs make the swabbing very very itchy where as children who do not have nose hair experience less tickling. The depth of insertion into my nose was at most an inch and half. There was ample length of swab’s stick outside. My experience of the swab test definitely differ from those shown in TV reporting. IMHO, what’s seen outside on TV is what I got on the inside.
And we’re negative.
Honestly though, living in California is a little nerve racking during the pandemic. We have been blasted with daily news report of physical attacks and robbery of Asian people by attackers of a variety of non-Asian profiles. Older victims may die. Businesses may close down after an attack. Police chiefs or mayors may make a speech.
But recently, a new trend has emerged. Immediately after multiple reportings of different race and country-of-ancestral origin based attacks in several locales (SF/Oakland/LA/other cities), the news will then proceed to announce the opening of a mass vaccination site. On two separate occasions, I built up a determination to brave the crowds and bring my older parents to these vaccination sites for the shot. On both occasions I ultimately decided not to take them there fearing physical assult in the cities where violent crimes against Asians were just reported. (Side note: my parents are over 65 but their insurance Kaiser Permanente does not have sufficient supply of vaccines to administer to patients over 65 as the state of California recommends. This is why we have to resort to mass vaccination sites. They are eager to get the vaccine because they enjoy their health, and they help out at home shopping and caring for younger children.)
I do not want to disparage news reporters and their teams for making the news during this harrowing time. They brave the onslaught of covid viruses to bring us informative news. I live in San Mateo county, and have personally experienced physical attack by a vagrant in a public library in the center of a city here. I was holding my young child and she swung bags of stuff at my head. She yelled that refrain “go back to where you came from!” common in our culture prior to Biden administration. Above all else, her attacking me was in genuine anger. I do not see many situations where the person is that angry. I was able to deflect the blows with my forearm and back up away from her. The librarian helped me to hail the police who walked over from their HQ next door to arrest her. The police officer noted that I might have rammed my child into the wall as I backed away from her while charging her. I still had a foot or so of room, but I did not notice this danger until it was pointed out to me. Thankfully, we were not reported in the news as we were not severely injured like those Asians in the more recent news reports.
Sadly, the reality of our lives is that, well into the Biden administration taking power, we are still afraid to access these public healthcare resources due to the abundant manifestations of physical violence against Asians in the cities where mass vaccination sites are opening.
The good new is, after several months of living in fear of the virus, and in fear of the process of vaccination, living with all these uncertainties, we did manage to get them their first shot with San Mateo County based mass vaccination site mid-Q1 2021. We did make the appointment at 4:30am in the morning for the first slot of that day, but we did not hesitate in fear of physical violence.
Today, I am thankful for things to be going well near me. I am thankful that the wider rollout of vaccination growing the community immunity. I am thankful that we are headed towards a safer and more cohesive society. I hope we can quickly make this a better world where people do not need to fear illness and physical violence.