What It’s Really Like Getting a Coronavirus Test

This is our story of what it feels like getting a Coronavirus test. Here’s my disclaimer. We live in London, Ontario and we went for Covid tests the week before Labour Day when one of us showed 1-2 symptoms. Waits for testing and actual local case numbers were low then. Now, they have changed.


This was our experience getting a Coronavirus test.

Why Were We Getting A Coronavirus Test?

Three weeks ago, my older daughter, who was just about to start university went to sleep with extreme stomach upset. After a night spent running to the bathroom, we were a little concerned.

Sure, it could have been nerves at starting a big life transition.

But, with Coronavirus around, you worry. Could it be something more?

When She Asked to Get Tested

In the morning, right before she was scheduled to work at a local day camp, she told me she still felt awful and wanted to go get tested. So, I checked with a few friends on Facebook to find out what their experience was getting a Coronavirus test and we got ready to go.

Why We Went

My older daughter worked with children all summer long at a day camp. While they had many safety protocols in place that were clearly working (no outbreaks at any of the local London city day camps. Kudos to the counsellors and supervisors for making that a safe place all summer.)

But Still….

But, still, the possibility of her catching something from them was higher than if she’s been sitting at home all summer.

For up to date news and statistics on Covid-19 cases and outbreaks look to reliable sources like: Johns Hopkins.

I also recommend CBC Canadian news.

Monitoring for Fever

She took her temperature a few times that first night and in the morning. All normal in that regard and she had no other symptoms. But, still she wanted to go get tested to be sure. This is the daughter that struggles most with anxiety disorder, so, it was likely to be a worry for her until she got tested.


So, we googled what time does the Coronavirus testing centre in London open and we got dressed and ready to go.

Take Supplies for the Wait

I grabbed refillable water bottles for all of us. My two teen daughters and I jumped into the van making sure to also pack health cards and be prepared to wait. My Kobo was in my purse and my younger girl brought her Kindle, while Payton grabbed a book to read. (At that point I was unsure whether Ainsley would also want to get tested to be safe, or not, so we all went together.)

Get There Early

We arrived just after opening time around 11:15. The Coronavirus testing centre at Carling Heights opens at 11 am. It was the last week of summer vacation and people were starting to return from cottages or camping while students were trickling back to the city settling into residence. There were maybe 11 cars in front of us already. So, not bad at all.

It Looked Like a Drive Through, But That’s Just the Start

The instructions were clear and the filtering system of driving through a line with your vehicle stating your symptom and showing your health card served to kind of triage people and instruct them on next steps. After easily half an hour in that line we pulled over to the side of the parking lot and awaited a text from the nurses inside.

A Text Tells You It’s Time to Enter the Building

Maybe 15 minutes passed at the most and the text came saying bring your health card and walk through the front doors of Carling Heights. We were met by another nurse checking to see if we had masks on and spritzing us with hand sanitizer. One more line to meet up with the two nurses screening us before the automatic doors into the arena and we were through.

I always worry that because Payton and I both have the same initials that if we go in together our results will get confused. But everything was driven by health card numbers, so there was no need to worry.

Social Distancing

Once we were inside we waited on chairs set easily six feet apart from anyone else and then another nurse spoke with both of us confirming whether we’d had contact with someone who had Coronavirus and what our symptoms were.

I had no symptoms, but on that day I decided to get tested with my daughter in order to be safe and to show her it was not a big deal. Now, the protocols have changed recently, so please pay close attention to those before you go. No need to be tested, unless you fit one of the criteria outlined by public health. Recently, huge lineups in London, Ottawa and Toronto cities have led to long waits and local health units are all providing close guidelines for when you need to be tested.

Watch the Crowd

Anyways, after that nurse kindly screened us, she deemed Payton a higher priority as I was asymptomatic.

Then, we moved to another seating area for about 10-15 minutes. We paid close attention to the other local people waiting for Coronavirus testing only because I was watching to see how long it was taking and whether people were coming out crying or totally fine.

Skip the Rumours

Rumours are everywhere about what the test itself feels like and my teens had both watched numerous videos of soldiers cringing at how much it hurt and suggestions that someone jammed a Q-tip into your brain when you were getting a Coronavirus test.

(I am here to say it is NOTHING LIKE THAT AT ALL. Keep reading.)

One of Us Isolates Until Tests Come Back

The nurse told us that because Payton had one or two of the symptoms that she needed to isolate in our home until the Coronavirus test results came back.

If You are Asymptomatic

In fact, I was okay to go about my daily activities they said because I was asymptomatic. My Crohn’s Disease can make me more vulnerable than the average person my age, but I was feeling fine.

Finally, we waited together one more time and then we were called in individually to the exam/ testing room. Kudos to all of the community centres that have managed to become makeshift screening centres.

My daughter went in by herself, but then a super sweet nurse came out to get me. She quietly told me she felt like my daughter was anxious since her voice got very quiet as she answered questions. So, I asked where to stand and held her hand as they did her test first. She cringed a bit and her eyes watered and then it was over.

My Turn

Next, came my turn. I have one needle phobic daughter, so I always try to make sure I am super calm around medical personnel. The swab went up my nose super gently and not nearly as far as people suggested. You count to five and it’s done. My nose felt ticklish afterwards, like I needed to sneeze.

That was it.

We sanitized our hands one more time and threw the disposable masks in the garbage and walked to our van.

Waiting for Results

Payton spent the day in her room, not a hardship for a teenager at all. I walked around sanitizing everything in the house and then I checked our results online before bed that night. They were not there yet, but I knew 12 hours would be pushing it.

The next morning Payton called in sick again and I hit the computer to check the web site for the results. Negative for both of us and it took less than 24 hours for results.

Our Testing Experience Was Speedy

Thankfully, the Coronavirus testing experience was speedy, efficient and the nurses were super kind. So, don’t be afraid to get tested if you need to. If your kids have symptoms, then get there early in the day and take the test.

Good luck! Stay safe and well.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.