Friday, May 16, 2008

Must add blog label called "unfortunate medical updates"

I don't see a way to ease into this comfortably, so, uh, well, evidently I have been infected with tuberculosis. Earlier this week I went to the county clinic (had to get tested for my new job) and they injected a little something under the skin on my left forearm to see if my body would react. This morning I went back for the doctor to "read" the results, which were positive. Or, more accurately, they were a furrowed brow, a tilt of the head, and a "Hmm, this isn't good."

Now, I already went and had lung X-rays that confirm I do not have ACTIVE tuberculosis. So I'm not contagious, I feel fine, and I can still go work at a school. This just means I have been exposed. But, there is dormant bacteria snoozing somewhere in my body, and my doctor is urging me to take a nine-month course of powerful medication to kill it. During those nine months, I can neither drink alcohol nor get pregnant. Which is unfortunate, since in the coming year I was definitely planning on doing at least one of those, if not switching to the other. If you catch my drift. Also, the medication could do serious damage to my nerves or my liver. Fun!

OK, look, I know it could be worse, and lots of people suffer lots of things that, you know, actually make them feel quite ill. But right now I just feel really super pissed off. I have VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS with the idea of taking my perfectly healthy body and putting it through such suffering for such a long period of time. But my doctor also said that if/when my immune system ever starts to decline, that's when little sleeping TB monsters can wake up and start chomping on my lungs. And if that happens when I'm older, I'm basically screwed, since they don't give this medication to older folks. So that's why I should do the crazy treatment now, when I am -- according to medical standards, at least -- "young."

What I love, though, is how not only can they NOT guarantee that the treatment will work, THEY CAN'T EVEN GUARANTEE I HAVE THE BACTERIA. They just think I PROBABLY do. And that the treatment SHOULD work. And then I was like "So, what if I do the whole treatment, and get through the whole nine months, and then I accidentally walk past someone who coughs the TB germs back in my face? Will I just get it AGAIN?" The doctor nods. In theory, he says, yes. You could. Greeeeeeat. Perfect.

I'm mad. Super mad. And also frightened. I told my aunt, who was all "Stop crying! Don't be upset! We just need to do research! We need to find some answers!" And I'm like, dude, googling "tuberculosis" will SO not get me anywhere. There will only be more confusion, more scary words and scenarios, more questions with no answers. OK, just now I actually did a search on "tuberculosis" to see if I was right, and sure enough I got through about three paragraphs of the wikipedia entry before I squinched my eyes shut, clapped my hands over my ears, and started yelling "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!"

OK, so what to do next. Well, in my family, when things like this happen, we turn to our good friend, the sense of humor. Sal has already started referring to me as "Consumption Junction." And I have decided to make my disease more hip by referring to it as "vintage." Oh, I also made up this joke:

(Who's there?)
(TB who?)

See, things are gonna be just FINE.


Hinkle...aka Martinez said...

SERIOUSLY? That's insane!! I sent you an email at your gmail account but you've obviously been dealing with much more pressing issues and I guess running is out of the question? Let me know if there is anything I can do? Can I call you lunger? thats what they called Doc Holiday in Tombstone :O) you were turning to humor, right?

Robyn said...

My first instinct is to tell my husband this story, but he already thinks your crazy health/injury stories are too good to be true, so he'll NEVER believe me. ((I'm so sorry about all this, though))

shraddha said...

what????? TB and a car accident! Jesus! Lemme just ask you this: where the hell do the doctors get off telling you that u "probably" have tb? I'm so pissed that i'm ready to beat in the doc's head that hands you the jacked-up combo of fear and uncertainty. And I am ready to do it all the way from Virginia!

Do the best u can to take of yourself!

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