Thursday, July 10, 2008

There ain't no bugs in me!

Dear county health clinic,

You owe me tears. Lots and lots of tears.


Let's begin with the news: I don't have tuberculosis. Despite what I was told a few months ago, my body is perfectly free of deadly and infectious bacteria, and I have a stamped, signed immunization record to prove it.

See, I spent a lot of time thinking this through during my month between jobs, and I realized there's no way I could take that scary medication unless I honestly believed it would help me. I learned this lesson the hard way, with the whole lumbar-puncture extravaganza. Every fiber of my being knew that procedure was totally unnecessary. I knew I had food poisoning, not spinal meningitis. But I let that cranky ER doctor talk me into it, much to my great suffering and remorse. So with this TB problem, I was feeling really stubborn about just doing what I was told. Packing my body with crazy drugs. Risking damage to my organs, rearranging my life plans. NINE MONTHS WITHOUT VODKA.

Not helping matters was how the results of my test were determined with a ball-point pen. A ball-point freaking pen! OK, so in a TB test, they inject a little bit of something under your skin. Two days later, if your skin is all angry and red about it, that's bad. Well, my injection site ended up looking like a mosquito bite. So this doctor yanks a pen out of the desk drawer, draws four sloppy little marks on my skin and measures the distance between them. She explained that 10 or below is normal, 11-15 is questionable, and 16 or higher means you're toast. Well, I was an 11, and so I failed. According to the OFFICE SUPPLY.

Now, this won't be a very smooth segue, but try to go with it. Every now and then for as long as I can remember, I wake up in the middle of the night and see giant spiders dropping down from the ceiling onto my face. Spiders the size of your hands. I shriek and scramble off the bed (in a careful, horizontal fashion, so my face doesn't bang into the spiders) and cower in the corner of the room until the lights come on and I begin to wake up. It's sort of an interesting sleepwalk/nightmare combo. Well, I had one of these episodes Monday night, and I leaped out of bed in such an awkward manner that I aggravated the tendinitis in my right wrist. I've been dealing with this nagging pain for more than a year but never got it checked out because (a) despite what you might believe by reading this blog, I don't ACTIVELY seek out reasons to need medical care, and (b) it was usually just a mild annoyance. But when I was escaping the spider attack Monday night, something got really inflamed and the next day I could barely move my wrist. So I made an appointment with my doctor, and after we dealt with the wrist thing, I say, "Oh, and by the way. This TB thing. I kind of want another test, because I don't really trust that broad at the county clinic. That OK with you?" Sure thing. Five minutes later a nurse injects my arm, and then I leave.

And for the next 48 hours, my eyeballs are glued to the injection site, where there is no bump.



I practically bounded into his office today to get the test site checked. My doctor was as shocked as I was. Took one look at my arm and said, "Um, you don't have tuberculosis." I KNOW! I SO TOTALLY DO NOT HAVE TUBERCULOSIS! But I ask him, if the first one was positive, and this one was negative, how do we know which one was wrong? Do we need to do some sort of tuberculosis tiebreaker test? But he said that if I had the bacteria, there's no way it can "hide" from this test, so the first one has to be wrong. He thinks maybe the first doctor gave me too much of the chemical, or administered it improperly or in a bad site. I suspect recycled drug needles, but whatever, it doesn't matter now. What matters is this: Don't be cheap. I went to the county health clinic instead of my own doctor because I thought it would save me some money. Instead, for the bargain price of $20, I got myself bills for a chest X-ray and two or three additional office visits, plus some serious panic and anguish. The crazy part is that it feels SO good to be free of a disease I never had to begin with, I couldn't care about that stuff if I tried.


Doc said...

Yay! What a great way to start my Friday. Sadly, I think this stuff happens way too often. Sadly (part II), no matter which doctor I visit, they all say I still have diabetes. Drat.

Doc said...

PS: If you can ask this new doctor whether HE thinks I still have diabetes, that would be much appreciated.