A cat in the car is never ideal but my fearless feline helped my scared son with a tricky test. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

A cat in the car is never ideal but my fearless feline helped my scared son with a tricky test. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Emotional support cat takes on the Cowichan COVID test clinic

Brave boy gets a nasal swab

Like many children his age, my boy does not do well with medical procedures. You know, needles and tests and the like.

So imagine our discomfort last week when we had cause to have him tested for COVID-19. What a nightmare. My daughter and husband were busy so I drew the short straw and took my firstborn for his test.

He’d had the gargle test last year and rocked it but things have changed in these strange times and for whatever reason, his opinion on the COVID test, and any other type of proceedure had changed — though he does maintain X-rays are still cool.

When it game time for the test, he flat out refused. At first I tried to reason with him and be the caring and patient mom we all want to be. That failed. I tried being stern. That failed too. I ended up begging him to suck it up and get it done as the cars behind us started to line up.

Ultimately we had to leave. We’d taken up all of our allotted time. We were told we could come back and try again, they’d keep the paperwork for the rest of the day. The nurses understood. They were certainly more patient, at least outwardly, than I was.

I broke down on the way home, driving home in tears, with my forlorn son in the backseat quietly knowing he’d disappointed his mom without his mom even having to say it. This pandemic is slowly but surely wearing me down.

We got home and my husband took one look at me and knew exactly what had happened.

My son needed the test. He’d been ill and off school the better part of two weeks, we needed to know if he, and the rest of us by extension, should be self-isolating.

We were worried and wanted to be responsible so we needed to formulate a plan of how to divide the house but still care for both children if he tested positive. He needed the darn test.

My son really did understand why being tested was important. We talked at length about being scared giving us an opportunity to be brave and how sometimes our brains tell us things are scarier than they end up being but we don’t realize it until after we do the scary thing.

Eventually he relented and said he’d go back and take the test. It was a brave decision and I was so proud. We decided the entire family would go to support him. He appreciated that very much.

We even brought the cat!

Yes, you read that right. We brought the cat to the COVID testing centre. What a world we live in. What a world I live in.

When my kids realized their parents weren’t kidding about the cat, they excitedly packed him up in his crate and put their shoes on. You’d think we were going out for ice cream, not Attempt 2 of a COVID test for a petrified seven-year-old.

The cat seemed to enjoy the ride. He sat propped up between the car seats in the middle of the back seat and had a clear view out the front window. The kids loved having him with us.

Despite our insistence that the gargle test was much less of an ordeal despite it taking a little longer, my boy opted for the nasal swab.

“It’ll be faster,” he said.

What followed was a chaotic and mildly traumatic few minutes of seat swapping between the cat and the Dad so that my husband could help brace my child when his inevitable reflex popped up and he wanted to get the swab the heck out of his nose.

Of course he did want the long and uncomfortable tickle stick to stop poking his brain and get out of his nose but nevertheless, like the true health hero she and all of the nurses are, the nurse administering the test calmly persisted.


As soon as it was over, my son throwing out insults left and right. I know it’s the feeling he’s trying to communicate, not the words, so my feelings weren’t hurt.

As soon as the car window was closed we let the cat out of the cage. Yes, in the car. (We pulled out of the testing station and had parked to regroup.) Right away the cat had the kids giggling. He climbed over one to look out one window then climbed over the other to look out the other. He jumped up and over the backseat and into the trunk, standing up on his hindquarters to look out the back window. The children erupted into fits of giggles.

I looked at my husband.

“It’s over,” he whispered. “He’s fine.”

We exhaled.

“Do you think the cat has ever been through a drive thru?” I asked aloud.

“I bet he’d get a burger with mousestard,” my husband quipped

“No, meowstard,” my daughter corrected.

Catsup,” my son added.

“I guess we could see what he’s feline like,” I added.

My son, fresh off the trauma of his first up-the-nose COVID test (which if, you’re wondering, was negative) sat in the back seat laughing hysterically surrounded by his loving family and his cat — which my husband dutifully pointed out was apparently our new car-pet.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ColumnistComedy and Humour