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How To Find Reliable COVID-19 Testing During The Omicron Surge

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It can feel impossible to find a COVID self-test as omicron cases surge. There’s always the option of waiting in line for a PCR test, but it can take at least two days to get your results. 

Thankfully, there’s some hope on the horizon — the White House soon plans to produce more COVID tests and ship them to the public.

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Until that day arrives, here are five tips for finding reliable COVID testing options in your city.   

Look for These Tests

When it comes to COVID tests, there are currently two available — antibody and viral. 

Antibody tests work to tell if you have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in your blood. These tests can determine if you’ve had a past COVID infection but aren’t recommended if you want to know if you are currently infected.

Viral tests can determine your infection by using a sample from your mouth or nose. Rapid viral tests are conducted in minutes and often include antigens or nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs). Some viral tests include PCR testing and must be sent to a laboratory to complete for further confirmation. 

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Self-tests are examples of rapid viral tests and are great options for people who’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID or thinks they’re currently ill. There are several FDA-authorized self-tests available on the market.

  • Abbott BinaxNow Antigen Rapid Self-Test Kit 
  • Intrivo Diagnostics On/Go Antigen Self-Test
  • FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
  • iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
  • BD Veritor Digital Test Kit
  • InteliSwab Rapid Antigen Home Test Kit

Most of these options cost $25 or less.

Go to These Retailers 

Currently,  COVID self-tests are in high demand. It’s wise to check online and call local pharmacies before making plans to purchase rapid tests. Most companies limit how many they’ll sell to a customer.

Check out these retailers as you look for a self-test before you hit up your next family gathering:

  • Amazon
  • CVS
  • BestBuy
  • RiteAid
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

If you’re feeling unwell, you can use a food service delivery app like DoorDash to order a test kit and have it delivered to your home later that day.   

Check With Your Employer

Your employer may offer free testing depending on your work situation. If you suspect you have COVID, contact HR to see if your company has any rapid viral tests available. 

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Some businesses have a stock of tests available for their employees and can even deliver them to your door. Others offer reimbursement options in which you purchase a test and are later compensated by your employer. 

Investigate Health Clinics and Community Centers

You might be able to find free testing opportunities at local health centers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a directory of neighborhood health clinics that offer COVID screenings. Note these tests are PCR, so you won’t get your results instantly. However, they provide highly accurate results.

Some of these federally backed clinics offer free tests, while others provide testing based on your health insurance. Many are currently busy because of the high omicron case numbers. It might be wise to call in advance to see if you can make an appointment and avoid standing in line. 

Additionally, check your city’s website to see if it offers free COVID testing at community centers. Due to high demand, many municipalities provide testing at libraries, fire departments, or malls. You might be able to find testing centers advertised on local Facebook groups or news stations.

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Some States Offer Free Testing

Currently, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Washington offer free testing options to their residents. If you believe you’ve been exposed to COVID, you can have a rapid test delivered to your door. Simply go to your state website and enroll in the rapid-at-home program. 

At this time, test supplies are limited across the country, so you might receive a “no test available” message even though you’re successfully enrolled in the program. If you encounter this problem, check websites for other cities to see if free tests are available.  

Are More Free Tests Coming?

In late December, President Joe Biden announced his administration was poised to offer American citizens access to free rapid COVID tests. The federal government will launch a website in January to request at-home tests. 

Biden says his administration is prepared to ship as many as 500 million kits. Hopefully, the demand for in-person testing will diminish once the site goes active and people can have tests mailed to their door. 

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Utilize any of these tips to find a COVID self-test. More tests are being manufactured, which will make it easier for you to check your symptoms and protect yourself and your loved ones.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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The ‘Bad Habit’ That Could Be Sabotaging Your Relationship Right Now

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Falling in love with someone you’ve been dating is typically a beautiful, romantic experience, but when depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues crop up and cause you to turn to the negative coping mechanism that is the bad habit of procrastination, it can raise problems in a relationship you otherwise might not encounter. Procrastination is the gap between intention and action, which is why people who procrastinate sometimes have trouble finding love or end up self-sabotaging their relationships.

The word procrastination comes from “pro” meaning forward and “cras” meaning tomorrow. Procrastination, therefore, means to put off until tomorrow. It is the act of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference for more urgent ones or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones.

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Procrastination voluntarily delays an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay. And, no, procrastination is not a problem of time management or planning. It is a force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do, which can lead to self-sabotaging relationships.

In a nutshell, procrastination:

  • Is irrational.
  • Drives you to act against your own judgment.
  • Is counterproductive.
  • Is devastating to personal and business lives.

Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.

Are you one of them?

Research shows that we regret those things we have not done more than we do the things we have done. Procrastination blocks you from living life to its fullest. The main reason why we procrastinate is that taking action will cause us a certain amount of pain and discomfort. We avoid undertaking certain tasks because of the risk of shame, vulnerability, and failure. Taking action means that we might be making a mistake or we might fail. We do not want to take action and look anything less than perfect. We, therefore, choose to avoid taking action and instinctively retreat to our comfort zone.

Unfortunately, we will never make progress unless we take action. In trying to protect ourselves from failure, we often erect our own barriers to success. Psychologists refer to this as self-handicapping, which is the strategy of intentionally sabotaging our own efforts and research shows that by creating impediments that make success less likely, we nicely protect our sense of self-competence.

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Paradoxically, we are more likely to self-handicap when the stakes are highest. The more important a task is, the more a procrastinator needs to protect himself by not trying too hard. Procrastination appeals to some of us as a way of controlling our lives in some small way; a life that can become chaotic and unmanageable. In this way, procrastination is a coping mechanism, as by remaining in our comfort zone, we avoid negative consequences that may come with taking action.

Unfortunately, procrastination is a form of self-deception and one that only adds to the chaos.

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Whatever your comfort zone is, you pay a hefty price for staying inside it. Your comfort zone is a shrunken world where opportunities, ideas, and wonderful relationships can easily pass you by. When you procrastinate, you pass the buck to your future self. So how does this affect our relationships?

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Healthy relationships are built on teamwork.

When you sign on to become someone’s partner, you become one part of the partnership. When one member of the team keeps missing their goals, the entire team loses, hurting your relationship. If you fail to contribute your 50 percent, you are not holding up your end of the bargain. If you are a procrastinator, you are therefore sabotaging your relationship. Some relationship counselors refer to procrastination as “a slow-burning relationship issue,” acting like a python slowly squeezing the life out of your love.

Here are the 4 ways procrastination is destroying relationships:

1. It can stress you out.

A procrastinator is often a kind and caring person who wants to make their partner happy. They are more relaxed and thrive in non-demanding environments. Procrastinators will do marginally useful things as they avoid undertaking tasks that they may feel are difficult or time-consuming. As a result, the partner might feel unimportant, un-cared for, and ignored.

Consequently, resentment, lack of trust, and a downward spiral may begin, eventually further damaging your self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation. You may even become discouraged and stop trying out of fear that any action you take will be too late or insufficient.

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2. You risk losing your partner’s trust.

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One day, your words and promises might come to mean nothing to your partner. When your partner expects you to do something and you to put off the task for another day at another time, the result is that you become perceived as not being dependable.

Relationships thrive when promises are kept, agreements are honored, and commitments are met.

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Procrastination leads to wasted time, endless delays in completing the task at hand, and many missed opportunities. In relationships, the undone tasks can become a symbol of the partner’s unmet needs, as well as a measure of disrespect, and lack of caring for the procrastinator.

All these things not only hinder the progress of your relationship but also make your partner feel as if they cannot rely on you. Your partner may slowly start undertaking more tasks on their own and relegate you more and more to the sidelines. This can result in you feeling useless. We all want to be needed, so being seen as unreliable can cause further damage to your self-esteem.

3. It can delay improvement in your relationship.

Many unhappy couples spend needless months lamenting the state of their relationships while making no strategic or proactive effort to remediate the situation. If you are a procrastinator, even though you are clear about your unhappiness, you may even procrastinate initiating the conversations to heal your relationship.

Initiating the necessary conversation is understandably difficult and scary. However, your relationship will only grow when you overcome harmful and self-defeating behaviors. Not acting may bring temporary peace, but it only compounds future discomfort.

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Initiating conversations about the weakness in certain aspects of your relationship is a challenging task that evokes fear and uncertainty about the outcome of the discussion. You may find it easier to resort to silence and hope that the relationship will just improve on its own. But guess what? This will never happen! Procrastinating is trading the discomfort of the moment for a more prolonged, more chronic unhappiness.

4. Procrastination affects your feelings of self-worth.

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Procrastination could potentially lower your self-esteem and cause an increase in depression, affecting how you deal with others, especially those closest to you. The doubts that may creep up about your competency may potentially drive you further away from your partner as you attempt to hide your fear of failure from their view. Your partner needs your loving presence in the relationship. This requires your attention and commitment to honoring your agreements.

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Strengthening a relationship means investing your time in it. If you have no time to invest, it will be impossible to hold on for long.

Originally written by Christopher D. Brown on YourTango

Featured image via Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

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I Was Misdiagnosed For 12 Years Before Hearing About A Rare Genetic Condition

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Starting in 2010, I began collecting diagnoses like candy. After recovering from leg surgery (due to an overuse injury from excessive ski training), I started involuntarily vomiting everything I ate or drank… and it hasn’t stopped since. 

At the time, I was a cross-country skier attempting to make the 2014 Olympics. 

I was one of the fastest junior skiers in the country. My coaches were two men in their 70’s who had been best friends since they were young. They had a long history of coaching the U.S. and Canadian ski teams. I respected these two men and deeply loved them for investing in me and believing in my dream.

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After racing in Germany at age 19, and having a terrible overuse injury flare in both legs, I chose to push on and go race in Switzerland with the team. However, my body had other plans. One night, I was doing push ups in the cabin we were renting, and all of a sudden my rib cracked and I fell on my face, screaming in pain. So I flew home and had lower leg surgery, and rested my broken rib.

After that, I became sicker and sicker, and watched my Olympic dream crumble, my hopes of having kids tarnished, and my desire for feeling better battered. I have acquired so many misdiagnoses because nobody could explain my symptoms, even remotely, from what my imaging, tests and studies showed. 

For twelve and a half years I went from one doctor to the next, exhausting all their options, and then being written off as a psychiatric case. 

I’ve been to treatment centers thirteen times for a severe eating disorder that I do not deny is real, but that started as a result of not being able to keep my food down, as well as a result of childhood trauma. 

When I sought medical help for the vomiting, I was diagnosed with mild idiopathic gastroparesis and colonic inertia. I was prescribed laxatives and a motility aid. Neither of those worked, and I remained constipated, in abdominal agony from cramping, vomiting, and having bowel blowouts from how many laxatives I had to take to relieve my bowels. 

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Next the vomiting was called Rumination Syndrome and I was instructed to breathe differently while I was “regurgitating.” However, I wasn’t regurgitating, as the vomit was projectile at times and I was unable to hold it in my mouth. In treatment centers, I was instructed to swallow the vomit down.

When nothing was working to stop my vomiting and rapid weight loss, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic suggested I get an ileostomy to relieve the intense abdominal pain from a colon that wasn’t working. I had surgery in 2017, and with minimal complications, I’ve lived in so much less pain since. But unfortunately, it didn’t affect the vomiting.

In 2019, I was diagnosed with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome and told to fill out a chart detailing emotions, feelings, and situations before, during, and after an episode. 

I was shut in a room alone for three weeks while I supposedly “unlearned” vomiting. 

I was forced to clean my own vomit off the floor while still actively dry heaving, because it was supposed to teach me to stop vomiting willfully. But it didn’t.

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In 2019, I had surgery for a Jejunostomy feeding tube that goes into my small intestines, and I was tube fed, but struggled with pain and cramping. I also couldn’t get the volume up to a decent calorie amount because my intestines would be in so much pain, and I would start vomiting bile. I could vomit up to 30 times per day. It was absurd. 

In 2020, I was inpatient in Colorado, and I met another patient who was from Boston. I immediately thought she was cool, and we started getting to know each other. 

She told me she had a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that makes your collagen defective. 

She pointed out a bunch of little things in my body that were typical in someone with the condition. I was curious enough to ask her for her geneticist’s name because I live in Maine, and Boston is within driving distance. I called the office, thinking I’d be on a waitlist for years, and they got me in to see the doctor in just three weeks. 

After I was discharged from the program for failing to meet their criteria, I met with the geneticist. He diagnosed me with hypermobile type Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I had a bunch of comorbidities, such as POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome), CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s), Colonic Inertia, and moderate Gastroparesis. 

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Suddenly the pieces of my confusing health history started making sense. 

I was directed to a gastroenterologist who helped me feel more comfortable by switching me to a G/J tube (which was a little surgery for a lot of relief). It allowed me to drain bile and acid from my stomach and feed through my intestines. However, my intestines stopped absorbing the tube feed and I lost a bunch of weight and became emaciated yet again. 

A year ago, I was switched to TPN through a PICC line in my upper arm(s) – I had multiple, and now a Hickman Central line in my chest feeds me. I had another Jejunostomy surgery when I continuously threw up my G/J tube, because I still need the tube for medications. 

At that time, we switched my G/J tube to a straight G so I could drain more volume faster. I wear a urine self catheter bag around my leg that attaches to my G tube for draining anything in my stomach. My J tube is just for medications, but without it I end up hospitalized. 

I finally feel heard, seen, valued, and considered. 

I’m not simply dismissed as the “chronically ill” (rolls eyes) and mentally unstable patient who ends up in the ER every few weeks for some random issue, like throwing up a feeding tube, or fainting and hitting my head. Nobody is sending me to another treatment center or locking me in an institution, despite that possibly being a good idea, if I think about it…

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Patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) often are misdiagnosed multiple times before figuring out they have EDS. 

EDS patients are repeatedly treated as if our pain and symptoms are all in our head. 

We are often dismissed because the doctors simply don’t know, but to save face, they blame us for somehow causing the issue. 

If there is one thing I want people with undiagnosed EDS to know, it’s that you know your body best… That’s it. Trust in your experience.

Photo by Adrian “Rosco” Stef on Unsplash

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