Hoffman's Houston
thanks, coronavirus!

Ken Hoffman on his surprise health benefit from the just-approved COVID-19 test

Hoffman on his surprise health benefit from the newest COVID-19 test

Coronavirus testing COVID-19 testing lab doctor test
The just-approved COVID-19 saliva test netted another surprising health benefit for our columnist.  Photo by Getty Images
Pet of the week - Bolt pointer husky
Handsome and swift Bolt is our pet of the week.  Photo courtesy of Citizens for Animal Protection
Coronavirus testing COVID-19 testing lab doctor test
Pet of the week - Bolt pointer husky

This past August 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new, extra-fast, extra-affordable, super-painless test for coronavirus. All you’ve got to do is drool into a cup and wait about an hour for the results.

The new test was tried out successfully on NBA players living in a bubble in Orlando. Turns out that James Harden and LeBron James were crash test dummies for the coronavirus study. The test should cost patients only $10.
Where was this two weeks ago when a nurse practically took a running start and jabbed a javelin up my nose and swirled it around like a swizzle stick?  

I took the coronavirus test because I woke up one morning with a crushing headache, sore throat, and sneezes. Two months ago, I didn’t know anybody who had coronavirus, didn’t know anybody who’d even been tested for it. By two weeks ago, I knew a bunch of people who were tested and the test came up positive. I talked myself into … I know I have the virus.

I booked an appointment with a clinic in Rice Village. They texted me when they were ready and I rode my bike there. The nurse said to relax. Yeah, that’ll happen. On top of nerves and worry, it’s just not fun to have an pointed object shoved up your nose. You see stars and your eyes start watering. It’s awful.

I left the clinic and braced myself for the results. I pedaled a few blocks over the Chocolate Bar in Rice Village. By the time the ice cream technician filled my cup with one scoop of Let’s Go Oreo and one scoop of Totally Nuts, I received my test result over text.


Now, here is where the story has a strange happy ending. When I sat for the coronavirus test, the nurse stuck the stick in my right nostril. Or at least tried. “I can’t use that side, you have a deviated septum.” My left nostril was smooth sailing, and I was out the door.

Huh? I don’t have a deviated septum. And I don’t need to make up a story to cover for a nose job. It’s not prom season.
I talked myself into having a deviated septum. I read up on my deformity and found “deviated septums can be a cause for a chronic coughing and clearing your throat.”

That’s me, and it’s not my imagination. I have had a chronic cough for years and I’m constantly clearing my throat. A lot of people have it. I’ve been to so many doctors in the Med Center that I should have a parking spot. I’ve had my head CT scanned, my lungs X-Rayed.

I’ve been tested for bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies, and reflux. I’ve had tubes in my nose, ears, and down my throat. I’ve taken steroids and antibiotics and used inhalers. I tried every cough syrup over the counter and across the border into Mexico (for the good stuff). I’ve sat in a sauna and watched TV though the haze of vaporizers.

Nothing worked. But now, I have a lead. Maybe I do have a deviated septum.

I visited an ENT doctor a few blocks from my house in the new building on Bellaire Boulevard where Palace Lanes once stood, where I once bowled a 245 game to defeat Channel 11 sports anchor Giff Nielsen in a charity match.

This time: “Yes, you do have a slight deviated septum, but not enough to do anything about it.”
I asked, could that be why I cough so much?

“Maybe. Let’s try …” and he called CVS for a bunch of pills that I never heard of. He said, “Try this, and come back in six weeks.”

Cough gone! Now the only time I cough is when I remember that I haven’t coughed in a few hours. I’m a whole human again.

So, I guess, thank you, coronavirus.

Pet of the Week
Name: Bolt, as in Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human being since Adam and Eve, or the Big Bang — depending on how you look at things.

Birthdate: July 31, 2019. I’m just out of my puppy year, but consider me a big lump of clay for you to mold into the pet of your dreams.

Ethnicity: I’m a pointer and Siberian husky mix, which I didn’t think was humanely possible, even for a dog. I’ve got a lot of spunk, which never impressed Lou Grant, but most people find attractive. I like car rides, running, tug o’ war (which once was an Olympic event), and playing in the water. 

I’m friendly and respectful and I enjoy having fun with other dogs. I’m real easy-going. So let’s make a love connection and adopt me. I’ll make a terrific pet. I’m neutered and groomed and ready to roll.

Come and get me: Remember, all adoptions at Citizens for Animal Protection are half-priced through the end of August. So what are you waiting for? Drop an email to adoptions@cap4pets.org — and let’s get this done!