COVID Testing at CVS

First thing’s first: we’re still in the midst of a pandemic! Wear a mask for the love of all things good and holy. 😷

Here’s a great infographic on protesting and COVID safety. The same can be said for other types of public gatherings of 10 or more people. Shoutout to resisterhoodLA for sharing this and to Mary Kenny for creating it.

Testing guidelines

Today, the CDC announced: “Death rates are 12 times higher for COVID-19 patients with chronic illnesses, according to new CDC report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new report on Monday, which found coronavirus patients with underlying conditions were six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die when compared to patients with no underlying conditions. The CDC found COVID-19 patients’ most common chronic illnesses to be cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%), and chronic lung disease (18%).” 

So, you need to get tested?

Have no fear! CVS Pharmacy has you covered – and many locations don’t even require you to leave your car (in fact, you shouldn’t). Let’s start at where you’ll be eagerly greeted by the following header:

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Follow the “Book an Appointment” link. There, you’ll be prompted by a little cartoon human to enter your zip code:

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After entering your zip code, you’ll be asked a series of questions designed to screen folks for testing. Some states have no testing restrictions while other states restrict testing to folks who are high risk, displaying symptoms, and/or have come in contact with a known case of COVID. Answer the questions honestly as they’re designed to ensure folks who need to be tested (versus those who are curious about the test) can access the test in a timely manner. In my case, I recently participated in a highly-attended Celebration for Black Lives and I have asthma. I’ve had a mild cough but no other symptoms and mostly got the test for my peace of mind due to being high-risk.

For my test, I had to schedule an appointment 2 days out as that was the earliest availability. Experts (e.g., the CDC) say to wait about 5-7 days after protesting, gathering, being in densely populated areas, etc., to get tested. Assuming you qualify for testing, I recommend making an appointment through CVS on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th day after possible exposure so you can be tested “on time.” You should receive an email confirmation with further details about your appointment.

Okay, got an appointment. Now what?

First up, pay close attention to the requirements for testing. If being tested at a CVS location, you’ll need to bring the following to your testing appointment:

  • Proof of identity and in-state residence (CVS requires you to be a resident of the state where you are being tested)
  • Medical insurance card
    • If you don’t have insurance, bring your Social Security number (card not needed), driver’s license or state ID.
  • Appointment confirmation email or text message (I was not asked to provide this, but it is listed as a requirement)
  • Mobile phone in case we need to reach you

You also need to follow a few key instructions when you arrive for your appointment. These instructions are copy/pasted from the confirmation email CVS sent me:

  • Wear a face covering at all times. Do not remove it until instructed to do so.
  • Stay in your car when you arrive. Do not go into the CVS store.
  • Procedures vary by location. You may be directed to a drive-thru window, parking space or tent. Follow signage or instructions of staff onsite.

👍🏻 What about the actual test, though?

I pulled up to CVS for my 9:30 am appointment at about 9:20 am. There was another person getting a test in the line ahead of me, and I waited until my appointment time. My location does testing through a drive-thru, so the details below will reflect my experience with that. The test is straightforward, painless, quick, and easy. Here’s how the test goes:

  • You’ll be asked to hold your ID up for the pharmacy tech to validate
  • The tech will confirm your insurance information and prepare your test kit
  • The tech will give you simple, specific instructions about what to do
  • You’ll receive the test kit through the typical drive-thru drawer/tray at CVS
  • The bag/kit will contain a swab, a vile with solution, post-visit papers, a COVID-19 factsheet, a paper demonstrating proper swabbing techniques, a bag to put your swab and vile in, and a bag with 1-2 disinfectant wipes
  • You’ll open the swab(ber?) and insert it 1 inch into your nose. Keep it there, spinning it around a little, for 15 seconds. Switch to the other side and repeat
    • You’ll probably sneeze, and that’s okay. Take the swab out, sneeze, and then resume counting to 15 wherever you left off (I sneezed 4 times)
  • After you complete the swab, place the swab(ber?) into the vile and close it
  • Put the vile with the swab(ber?) into the bag with your patient information, roll it up, and drop it off in the designated box
  • Use the alcohol wipes to clean the top of the lid for the next person
  • The end! You just got COVID tested!

Is it really that easy? What about results?

Yes! It was free, painless (though uncomfortable and made my eyes water a lot), and took less than 10 minutes. In my case, with the drive-thru option, everything was contactless and the CVS pharmacy technician was patient and helpful.

CVS will return my results in 2-4 days through an online patient portal (MyChart) which I received an invitation to about 5 hours after my test was complete.

patient portal

Some closing notes:

Getting tested is important. This is one accessible way you can get a test, but you can find out about other ways through a website like this one

You may not experience symptoms of COVID even if you have an active infection. You may experience symptoms between 2-14 days after exposure. Do not wait to seek treatment or a COVID test if you have difficulty breathing, feel faint, have blue/purple lips, have constant chest pressure, or have other potentially severe health concerns. See below for more detail (source: CVS COVID-19 fact sheet).

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Best of luck! Remember to continue social distancing, wash your hands, avoid touching your faceand wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

ADHD: Tips & Tricks for Focus

If you are a graduate student struggling with ADHD and/or difficulties regulating your attention, you may find this post helpful. Also available here on Medium.

🚨 Help! I have a lot to do but I can’t focus.

In January 2020, I was officially diagnosed with Combined Type ADHD. Contrary to popular belief, there are 3 types of ADHD: (1) predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, (2) predominantly inattentive, and (3) combined type. ‘Inattentive’ is a bit of a misnomer in the case of the second type as ADHD is more about having difficulty regulating attention than it is about a lack of attention. As a first year graduate student, my diagnosis came as a relief to me because I knew it meant some very necessary help was on the way. That said, I lived nearly 30 years without this diagnosis. In that time, I learned essential coping strategies that made my educational, professional, and personal goals achievable when they otherwise may not have been. I’m writing to share some of my go-to tricks and tips for maximizing focus in graduate school and beyond.

A disclaimer: The recommendations below come from my personal experience with ADHD and my life as a graduate student. I sought the help of a neuropsychologist to determine my diagnosis. I use both medication and therapy to effectively manage life with ADHD.

OK – let’s get into it.

1. Put your phone away ☎️

I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, dad 🙄” – but I’m serious. One of my best and easiest tricks to help manage focus and inattention has been to put my cell phone in another room from the one where I am doing my work. If that is not possible, put your phone in a box, under a pillow, up on a bookshelf, or some other place where it is hidden. Out of sight, out of mind!

2. Use the Pomodoro Technique ⏲️

Check out my blog post here or here for more detail on how this technique has assisted me in getting my work done in graduate school. The Pomodoro Technique works like this in order to help improve focus, time management, and productivity: (1) set a timer for 25 minutes, (2) focus on your work/task/hobby until the timer goes off, (3) take a 5 minute break, (4) rinse and repeat. On every 4th round of this sequence, take a 15 minute break, and then get back to it. I use the free version of an app (installed on both my computer and phone) called “Be Focused.” It helps count and keep track of intervals for me, and I can label tasks to stay on-track.

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3. Lock down your browser and apps 💻

To do this, I use the free version of an app called 1Focus. It allows me to enter websites and computer apps I want to block myself from and to set a custom timer for how long the access will be restricted. If I get distracted and attempt to navigate toward those websites or utilize those applications, the app blocks my attempts and presents me with a cheesy-yet-delightful philosophical quote. I usually roll my eyes, chuckle, and go back to what I was doing before.

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4. Utilize text-to-speech software 🗣️

ADHD is accompanied by executive functioning issues. One of mine is an encoding issue in my brain that sometimes makes it difficult to process things like run-on sentences, large volumes of text (hello, graduate school!), certain mathematical formulas and symbols, and even information that is not difficult to understand but only sticks with me after repeatedly reading or hearing it. I compensate for this with a variety of techniques, particularly by using the free version of 2 awesome apps: (1) NaturalReader, and (2) Read&Write.

NaturalReader allows you to upload OCR-formatted PDF, Word, and other documents. The free version comes with several voice options, and the program reads the text aloud while I follow along in my own physical copy. I recently learned about Read&Write and have been using that more often. It allows me to take screenshots of any document (usually PDFs in my case), and it converts the screenshot to a readable format. It uses the built-in accessibility features on my Mac, and, as is the case with NaturalReader, I can control the speech, volume, and available voices from my own computer. These programs have been instrumental in enabling me to read my assignments and complete my work on-time in graduate school. Prior to using them, a 25-page reading assignment took me approximately 4.5 hours to complete due to needing to read and re-read much of the text. Yesterday, with the help of these programs, I finished a 65-page article and detailed reading notes in 3.25 hours. You can do the math.

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5. Listen to white noise or binaural tones while working

There is some science (#googleit) that suggests that people with ADHD may benefit from listening to white noise or binaural tones while doing work that requires focus. I often listen to this glorious 10-hour-long youtube video of ✨ celestial white noise ✨, and I recently discovered this Binaural Beats playlist on Spotify. Binaural sounds combine two slightly different frequencies (one in one ear, the other in the other ear) to create the perception of a single frequency/tone which is equal to the difference in the 2 separate tones. This is typically most effective when the hertz are less than 1000 and when the difference in the two tones is 50 hertz or fewer. You can read more here.

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6. Communicate your needs and boundaries ✅⛔

If you have roommates, family, a partner, or other folks living in the physical space where you also work, take the time to clearly communicate your needs and boundaries. If you need a quiet space, ask for that. If you need to be alone, ask for that. If you need to leave your current physical space to go be in another, more productive space, communicate that. You are your own best advocate.

7. Get professional help (#endthestigma) 👩🏿‍⚕️

ADHD is life-long. You are born with it, and while it may be more or less manageable depending on the scenario, you cannot force it to go away. There are doctors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, life coaches, yoga instructors, massage therapists, and others who want to help people struggling with attention management difficulties. Whether you have or will have an ADHD diagnosis or not, you deserve to struggle less than you do today. It is possible! Remember: you are your own best advocate. No one else can do a better job than you of communicating your difficulties, seeking help, and building the most supportive environment possible.

8. Sleep. I repeat: you. need. sleep. 💤

There’s a fascinating relationship between ADHD and sleep. I am unqualified to explain that relationship, but there’s a great Twitter thread here from Erynn Brook that gets at some interesting points. Prioritizing your sleep is absolutely fundamental to managing attention irregularities and a host of other issues both short and long-term. If you need to, consider adopting specific behaviors to help you get better sleep. These may include reducing caffeine intake, developing a nighttime routine to tell your body it’s time for bed, avoiding blue light devices an hour before sleep, exercising regularly, and a host of other sleep tips. If those things do not work, don’t hesitate to discuss your sleep norms with a doctor who can help navigate potential issues.

9. Miscellaneous recommendations 🧺

Some additional things you might try if you haven’t already:

  • Keep a master To Do list on your computer or someplace handy for all the random (and usually non-urgent) things that come to mind when you’re working
  • Turn your phone on grayscale (how-to here for iPhone and Android) to limit its ability to stimulate your brain with pretty colors and notification reminders
  • Meditate before starting your work (try free apps like Insight Timer)
  • Create a mantra for yourself – mine is: “I am safe, I am smart, and I’ve got this!”
  • Listen to your body. If you need to eat, stand, use the bathroom, etc. – do it!
  • Say no when you need to whether that is to social invitations, requests to take on additional work, or offers that entice you but ultimately make things harder for you

10. Lastly, don’t suffer alone 💛

If you are struggling, no matter how much or how little, tell someone. It might be scary or embarrassing at first, but I’ve found that my friends, my partner, my classmates, and my professors really want to support me. I can empower them to empower me by letting them know what my needs are, what my triggers and difficulties are, and what sorts of encouraging words help me get and stay on track with my work. You have resources around you and you are entitled to finding a way forward with less struggle.

Thanks for reading!

Note: This post assumes a certain level of privilege and access to professional resources, health care, ability, supportive friends and family, safe and affordable housing, technology, and mental wellness. Managing attention irregularities is infinitely more difficult the more precarious a person’s position becomes. In every case, a multiplicity of factors contribute to ADHD and/or attention management difficulties. Wherever you are, I see you, you are valid, and you deserve safety, stability, and whole health above all.

Bucket List Item #40

Goal: Make my own website
Status: ✅ 🎉 🚀 💪

Thanks for visiting my new (and arguably first real) website

>> Pour one out for the graveyard of my former Xanga, Blogspot, Tumblr, and Myspace accounts. #rip ⚰️ ☠️ >>

In all seriousness, this has been a goal of mine for some time now. Getting this up and running is a tiny but mighty victory! I’m happy to have this platform to share things I love to do, read, think about, take pictures of, discuss, and explore. I’m especially excited to have a central place to share not only my education and career histories, but also more about what I’m up to now and what comes next.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can find and where:

  • A Little More About Me: if you haven’t already, hop on over here to learn 6 fun facts about me and read a brief summary of my current and previous work experiences
  • Resume: Um, it’s (a non-trivial portion of) my resume! Check it out, and let’s also connect on LinkedIn
  • Projects: Under construction for now. Soon, you’ll be able to scroll through a summary of projects I have worked on for a better understanding of work I’ve been a part of and my relationship to it
  • Testimonials: Aww, some thoughtful words from folks I’ve interacted with in a professional capacity within the last year. This includes peers, clients, and stakeholders
  • Digesting: Tbh this is just the quirky-and-maybe-even-weird thing I decided to call the “blog” section of my website. Surprise! You’re here right now
  • Hobbies + Travel: Check out some of the things I like to spend time doing and some of the neat places I have the privilege of exploring this year
  • Lists: I love lists about really anything or nothing. I also love taking pictures of lists. Just…you’ll see what I mean
  • 2018 Reads: Real question – paper books or eBooks? Take a look at what I’m reading and let’s connect on Goodreads (p.s. paper books, baby)
  • Contact: Reach out if you wanna – I’d love to hear from you! If email isn’t your thing, try me on Twitter

Thanks, y’all!