Latent Tuberculoses

Yes, it is 2016 and when I went to the doctor to see what we could do about my lifelong fight with joint pain, I was diagnosed with Latent TB.

Quick Disclaimer: I'm not contagious! I can't get anyone else sick. I'm not coughing up blood, I'm not wasting away in a sanatorium. I am not suffering from "consumption." I simply (somehow) came into contact with someone who DID have Active TB. My body couldn't fight it all the way off, so it's been sitting in my blood, in my body for years most likely. It can become active and hurt me and infect others if it gets strong enough, but for now, I'm ok.

So when the doctor said: "Your blood work came back, strange." My first response was to think, 'well of course it did, I have ridiculously high levels of inflammation, which is why I was referred to you'.  After he looked at me and said "You have TB," my jaw hit the floor and I probably looked like a dope. It's 2016, I live in Seattle....I haven't been anywhere near a place that has TB...or have I?

I was then referred to another doctor, the best infectious disease doctor in Bellevue apparently. He has to treat the TB before I can get treated for my joint pain (which btw, I still don't know if it is rheumatoid arthritis or what).

Waiting for my first appointment with the infectious disease doctor, a middle aged woman and her young, middle school aged son come in as well. The mom chats with the nurse at the front desk while I fill out my paperwork. The nurse asks "What are you coming in for today?" the mother responded with a strangely light hearted "Oh he got bit by a monkey, needs his next shot."

I paused, and casually glanced over at the kid sitting in the small waiting room with me. I have TB and this 13 year old boy had gotten bit by a monkey. 2016 doesn't mean what I thought it meant anymore....

When it was my turn with the doctor we had a good long chat about where I grew up, where I vacationed, where my parents worked, where I went to school, how often I traveled, have I ever seen anyone with TB symptoms and so much more. When he asked when was the last time I left the county, which was 2 or so years ago to go to Vancouver, Canada for a hockey game, he chuckled. I have been all over France, all over England, he just shook his head. When I also said I had studied abroad in Australia, he laughed. After every answer I gave, he made a note on his chart and said,"safe." We honestly have no clear idea where or how I picked this up. Best guesses is a plane or airport. I traveled a lot in high school and in college, and with going overseas and being in customs, who knows!

There are a few underlying issues I've had for years that this TB may be the cause of, high white blood cell count & fatigue to name a few. But no one ever thought to look at that. The only reason I know about this now was because it was part of the standard wide array blood tests my doctor ran during my RA consult. With all my other dietary issues and the fact that I was an athlete before my body revolted against me, it was never considered. I was healthy...just in pain.

So now I'm on a heavy dose of antibiotics. 3 pills a day, with more probiotics and vitamins on top of that to try and keep me feeling normal. But I don't. I'm f**king exhausted at all times. My head is foggy, but cognizant. I WANT to do things, I KNOW what I want to do and say, but my body won't let me. I catch my face in the mirror just looking terribly hopeless. I wake up with enough energy to get me to work, but the thought of anything more than that is crippling. I want to sleep, but I can't. My mind is constantly going, trying to work things through, but my body needs to rest, and my body wins. It's so FRUSTRATING!

I'm only 1 month into the treatment. Hopefully I can get through the next 3 months, survive the inevitable gastrointestinal issues that always come after you finish antibiotics and exhaustion and come out the other side much healthier and better. But we'll see. Right now, I just need a nap. I always need a nap.