About nine months ago I found out I had been exposed to tuberculosis. As a new employee for one of the hospital complexes in the area, tuberculosis is part of employee orientation. The company couldn’t have employees putting patient’s health at risk. And employee health screening is standard procedure. I had a reaction to an injection of some form of tuberculosis solution just beneath the skin. A week later there was a small raised bump at the injection site. It was a positive result.
The last tuberculosis test I had was almost twenty years ago when one of the supervisors at the little information processing company I worked for came down with full blown tuberculosis. Everyone in the office was tested and we all tested negative. At least that’s what they told us. Back then they used the little four pronged poker to irritate the skin. I tested negative then. That might not have been the source.
I could’ve been exposed to the strain while living in Texas and traveling throughout the state. It could’ve happened when I took that jaunt to Nuevo Laredo. It could’ve happened when I took that trip to London, England or Petit Valley, Trinidad or Red Deer, Canada. I could’ve gotten it anywhere. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I had tested positive right then and right there. I had to go for further testing. I had to get a chest X-ray. And that X-ray machine was cold!
I thought about my son and I was scared. I didn’t want him coming down with it. I am ashamed to say that I really didn’t think about anyone else but him. I didn’t even think about myself. I was scared for him. The doctor at the employee clinic in the basement of the hospital explained to me that the tuberculosis could be controlled or neutralized to a point where it would never develop to the full blown version of the disease. If I consented to nine months of taking a couple of drugs I had an excellent chance of keeping the disease at bay. I took the offer. And after eight and a half months of popping the pills I have two weeks left to go.
But the tuberculosis scare got to me. If I had tuberculosis what else did I have? I consented to a hepatitis treatment and an HIV test. Waiting for the results of the HIV test was like torture. What would I do if the results came back positive? I started hating every woman I ever had sex with. Both of them! Just kidding. But you get my drift. I started wondering what in the world did I see in them. The sex wasn’t even close to being worth it. But the test came back negative and my biggest worry evaporated. I was so happy that exposure to tuberculosis was the only thing I had to worry about. Life was good in a twisted kind of way. Two weeks of pill taking to go and I can go back to a pill free existence.
Now, why does this come up today? I am so glad you asked.
Yesterday, March 24th, was World Tuberculosis Day. I didn’t find out until I was at work surfing the Internet on official company business. At least that’s my story and I plan to stick with it. Irregardless, I was at work and I wasn’t about to take a chance of modifying my blog on the clock. That’s a really good way to get canned and now is not the time to take unnecessary risk with one’s employment. I had to wait until after I got home to do my part. It’s just that my part will be a day late and hopefully not a dollar short.
World Tuberculosis Day is designed to build awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of over a million and a half people each year. March 24th commemorates the day when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. In 1882, when Mr. Koch made his announcement in Berlin, Germany, tuberculosis was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Mr. Koch’s discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.
The Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006-2015, is designed to dramatically reduce the proliferation of tuberculosis by 2015 by ensuring that anyone and everyone infected with tuberculosis, even those with a drug resistant from of the disease, benefit from universal access to diagnosis and treatment. This strategy supports the development of new and effective tools to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. And if the actions in the plan are implemented, millions of lives will be saved while everything possible is done to reach those most vulnerable to the disease.