Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Life as a Carrier Monkey

      Little known fact (or more widely known since I wrote a Facebook note about it a couple of years ago), I have TB, short for Tuberculosis.  It is that old disease that people die of in movies like Moulin Rouge, and as my friend Jenn keeps telling me, Tombstone - which I have never seen.  I do not have the active version, and I am not contagious.  I found this out in 2008 when I was volunteering at the children's hospital in town and had a positive skin test.  We think I must have picked it up in Ghana.  I had to go to the TB clinic and get a chest x-ray, and I was supposed to take medicine at that point.  But I never took the medicine.  I was wanting to get pregnant soon, so I never took it.  And I never took it between the girls.  And I haven't exactly been in a hurry to take it, because I found out from a friend who worked as an Army medic who had TB that I would have to take it every day for 9 months and that I couldn't eat soft cheeses.  If you have seen any of my recipes, you know how I feel about soft cheeses.
      Then, a couple of months back, when we visited our best friends from college, I was talking about this again.  And Steph, who is almost a completely full-fledged doctor told me a horror story of a 29 year old woman who had developed TB and was hospitalized for a month.  Then she showed me pictures of the Hazmat-like suits that they had to wear to go in and care for this woman.  "Take the medicine," Steph said. She even kindly looked it up and told me that I could take it while nursing and that I would be fine to eat my soft cheeses.  So, on this last morning of Mother's Day Out, I trekked to the TB Clinic - such a cheery place and totally what I wanted to be doing.  Since it had been 3 years since my last visit, I had to get another chest x-ray - I was handed a thin gown, told to undress my top half and stand in front of the screen.  He kindly used a shield to cover my "female parts."
      After the doctor looks at the x-ray to confirm that I do not have active TB, I will have to go back to get medicine.  I discovered today that I will have to go back monthly and be weighed each time to make sure that I am not developing TB and suddenly dropping weight.  Not likely, though it may give me an incentive to not take a spoon every time I go to the garage and get cookie dough out of that freezer, if someone else is going to be weighing me every month.  Makes picking up birth control in the Walgreen's drive-thru every month look positively delightful.  And, for your viewing pleasure - here is the brochure that explains TB with cute cartoons.  I think I must have gotten TB from someone who was singing too near to me, and it is a little creepy to think that it is "sleeping" inside of me, ready to "wake up" if my immune system becomes compromised.  Thankfully, I am well.


I am very thankful to be well, because it means I get to spend time with these sweet little friends.


And though having a two-year-old brings many storms of emotion to our house, I wouldn't trade it.  I think it has high highs and low lows.  So, when it is good, it is very good.



Kristin Murdock said...

I love that you referred to yourself as a carrier monkey! AND shame on that person who sang next to you and infected you with TB!