Tuesday, February 2, 2010

“Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.” Jack Handy

So, with a new job came a slew of testing (as is normal for all people in any type of Health Care setting). Since I didn’t have my immunization records (who does?) I had to go in for titers to check which antibodies are in my blood, get my tetanus updated, and have not one, but TWO consecutive TB tests.

First of all, the clinic for employees is one of the most incompetent clinics I’ve ever been to but that is another post for another day. Let’s just say, when someone puts a tourniquet on your arm and looks for a vein to administer a PPD, you know you’re in trouble.

This post is focusing on my TB tests.

I have never had a reaction. I have had four prior TB tests and have never had so much as a red spot.

So, my first TB test was administered way too deep by the technician (pretty par for the course at this clinic) which produced a large red rash on my arm. As someone who has never had a reaction (and can be a bit of a hypochondriac) I got very anxious and nervous to have the results read. Thankfully, the results came in at a 2 simply because I had a rash. A few days after I had the test read, my red spot turned into a welt. It became swollen, larger, and raised. I was instructed to meet with our Infectious disease nurse just to make sure it wasn’t an allergic reaction. When I met with the nurse she told me the reaction was a bruise. She told me that if the injection is administered too deep, it can bruise the skin. Fair enough. I bruise easily so, no big deal.

Two weeks later I went in for the second TB test. Since I still had a large bruise on my left arm, I offered the technician my right arm. She administered the test properly and a happy little bubble appeared on my right arm. I knew there wouldn’t be a reaction because this lady knew how to give the test.

Within a few hours I had developed another raised red rash on my arm. Thinking that I was just turning into a wuss, I shrugged it off as another bruise. When I went to have it read the tech asked if we could speak privately. He told me that he was grading the test at a 12 (>10 is positive) and that I should prepare myself to have a chest x-ray but he thought I was just fine.

I went to the nurse again and gave her my results. She began asking me questions about my overall health, where I’ve traveled, where my friends have traveled and scheduled me for a chest x-ray.

I returned to the clinic, took my chest x-ray (which, of course, was negative) and met with two doctors who started their line of questioning, not unlike the nurse. After a ridiculous amount of time they told me they wanted to start me on INH.

So there you have it. Apparently in this day and age, Tuberculosis is still an issue. Although I’m not sick, I am still considered as infected and am being treated as such.

For the next six months, I will have seven blood draws, 180 pills, no alcohol, and no Tylenol. All for the greater good, right?

On the bright side, INH costs $3 for a 90 day supply. Not too shabby.


Meg said...

I anxiously read your post, hoping for a good laugh, but frankly, that sucks Candace! I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this! I hope it's nothing big at all, and the lack of alcohol sounds like the worst thing you'll have to endure!

On a jack handy note, here is my favorite: "I always like to carry around two grocery sacks wherever I go, that way, if someone asks if I could help them, I can say 'sorry, got these sacks'."

Candace said...

Meg, thanks! It's not as bad as it could be but the no alcohol rule makes hard days just a little harder. :)

My personal Jack Handey favorite is :
"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said. "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."