Saturday, August 16, 2008

Otherwise a beautiful day


So I knew something was not quite right when the friendly, professional nurse at Northampton Area Pediatrics for a very brief moment telegraphed a look of concern. She picked up the phone and said, “I want the Doctor to look at this.” Hey, it’s Saturday afternoon--so not only am I glad they’re open but even more so they have a doctor available.

It was one of those routine test procedures where you just drop in and let somebody have a quick look at the skin test for the results. But the disease in question is far from routine. TB was a frightening killer for my parent and grandparent’s generation, but something I never thought about...until just now.

We sat in a waiting room, my baby daughter and I, and the medical office that was bustling two days ago when they injected Jada with the TB test serum was now all but empty. Another nurse walks by--the one who did the injection on Thursday morning--and she comes in to banter with Jada.

I ask her to look at the reaction site. She does. Another look of concern. “Best to have the Doctor give you an opinion,” she says.

Ten minutes later the doctor enters the room. He gently holds Jada’s forearm as she starts to cry. He takes an ink pen and makes lines at all four side of the rounded injection site that resembles a mosquito bite, so it now resembles a sniper scope. “It’s a bit elevated”, he says “Not enough for a positive result but enough so it is not a negative result.”

In China it’s not uncommon for the government to use a TB inoculation serum on the abandoned babies that is fairly ineffective, but will give false positive results when the individual is tested in the US.

Such is my hope.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry, that TB "test" only tests to see if the white blood cells recognize the (dead) TB to be an enemy and attack - as they have here.

It does NOT mean that the child *has* TB, only that, at some point, she was somehow exposed to it enough for her body to recognize it as bad. Which can mean that she was exposed to it (but didn't catch it) or she was vaccinated against it. And the latter used to be more common in this country than you think - nurses in the mid-late 1950s were routinely vaccinated against it (as our servicepeople are now vaccinated against anthrax).

And if she does have it, with a few rare exceptions, there are multiple antibiotics that are quite effective -- which was not the case in the first half of the last century.

Want something to fear: MRSA, which you really need to watch out for in your Athletic Club. It is a skin-born staph infection that is resistant to even our most powerful antibiotics. Used to only be seen in hospitals, now common amongst athletes and in jyms. I also suggest to police officers to sanitize (wipe down with bleach or alcohol) their handcuffs after each arrest because it can live on hard surfaces like steel for some time (weight bars and such too), particularly surfaces kept near body heat as cuffs on a belt are, and if you are wearing gloves to protect yourself, you are defeating the whole purpose of the gloves by then toughing (and wearing) a contaminated surface covered with what you were wearing gloves to avoid in the first place...

MRSA needs to be feared. TB, if properly treated, not so much....
(Also is it possible she acquired her immunity from her mother who might have had TB - but didn't give it to her? Remember that all that test is saying, if positive, is that her body is reacting to it, the speculation would be as to why...

Mary E.Carey said...

What a cutie, Larry. This story sounds a lot like one my dad used to tell about me. He was is medical school when a test on me, who was about Jada's age at the time, came back like her test did. My dad beat himself up about it thinking he had picked up something at the hospital and passed it on to me. If I remember, the reason my mom and dad told us this story was as an example of how something very frightening can turn out to be benign.

Anonymous said...

Jada will be fine, Larry. With a face like hers, the Angels will wrap her up and protect her for a long time to come.

I have reactions to the injection for TB, also and they send me for exrays whenever they are required.

Chin up, all will be well

Until later.................

LarryK4 said...

Thanks folks. Tomorrow I go to the Cooley Dick blood unit on University Drive to bring Jada for routine blood samples to see if the report China gave us on her inoculations can be trusted and to drop off three days of poop samples to test for parasites and now of course the chest X-ray will be added to the list.

And yes--even if she does test positive--I have great faith in the American system of health care.