Wednesday, August 6, 2008
TB or Not TB
"Ya know, half of these gook whores are serving officers in the Viet Cong; the other half have got T.B. Be sure you only f*ck the ones that cough." ~Private Joker, Full Metal Jacket (1987)
On Monday, I went to get my TB screening done. TB (tuberculosis) is basically a disease caused by a bacteria that usually attacks the lungs and other organs of the body. It was known as the Consumption. Funny, but I always thought the Consumption was the original name for Alcoholism; ya know, because you consumed a lot of alcohol? Well, apparently, it was referred to as the Consumption because it eats you from the inside out. Fevers, coughs, and blood tinged sputum are the common signs and symptoms of TB. Oh. That sucks.
It's airborne and is spread by coughing. That's why people in close quarters, i.e. jails and dorms, or working with a large population, i.e. prostitutes or health care workers, are usually the ones who get exposed the most to the disease. There are treatments. You're never cured, but you can keep the disease latent; which means you put it to sleep, rather than let it eat you alive!
The screening process is simple. The newest (and least used) method is blood screening using the QuantiFeron TB Gold test. But most health depts use the tuberculin test. Basically a small amount of PPD (Purified Protein Derivative or Tuberculin) is injected just under the skin of the forearm, leaving a little bubble. You come back in two days to see if the site becomes hard, or gets larger. If it does, that means you've been exposed to TB, and it's not necessarily active. All it means is you're getting a chest x ray and further testing. You can get your TB screen done at the Dr.'s office or the health dept. I chose the health dept because it's faster and it's cheaper. No appt needed.
Here's my arm on the first day I got injected. Notice the small bump on the inside of my forearm, right before the inside of the elbow.
It wasn't really painful; just a quick stick. The nurse was fantastic.
And here is today's foto, the follow up after two days. Looks great, doesn't it? No bump, just a small bruise from the injection.
It's nice to know I'm TB free! And I've got the card from the health dept to prove it, too!
And here's a sign that was up today at the STD clinic:
Apparently, one of their nurses must be out sick with a cold...