Yesterday, Mike received a letter that one of his students has respiratory tuberculosis.
Yes, you read that right. TB. Tuberculosis. Festering bloody lung disease. The very same.
Did we all of sudden leave 2006 and step into 1846, when tuberculosis was the height of Victorian fashion? Hell, they even had “fainting rooms.” Instead of taking that lemon of news and turning it into Victorian luxury, I spent the bulk of the afternoon feeling like a leper and frantically calling my son’s pediatrician.
I was told that I couldn’t get a TB test without doctor’s orders. So I left a message for the doctor and was told she would get back to me. The whole “getting back” process didn’t happen until half an hour after the office had closed and after I hollered at the receptionist, “What do you mean, she’s with a patient right now? Don’t you understand? My son and I have been exposed. I want something done now!”
The pediatrician calmed me down over the phone and told me that unless my husband and I had been in close, continuous contact with the sick student, the likelihood of contracting tuberculosis was slim and that I should put away the sterile bubble-home I was about to move my family into.
“So I shouldn’t worry?” I asked.
“You shouldn’t worry.” My doctor said.
“So I can go outside?”
“You can go outside. Besides, you could have already come in contact with someone with TB and not even known it.”
Thanks Dr. Quinn, that last sentence really made me feel better.
Since becoming a mother, I have been instilled with a frightening power and responsbility to care for my child and a fear that I will fall short no matter what I do. I boiled water, sterilized bottles and binkies, cleaned, washed and folded and still I was slapped with a terrible, seizing “What if?” What if my husband has TB, gave it to me, and I gave it to Nathan? What if my son’s growth is stunted and he will be placed in an iron-lung because of me?
I was ready to get some bubble wrap together and create a makeshift fort so my son and I could be protected from the infectious, germy world. I was already imagining the 10 o’clock news reporting that the CDC traced the tuberculosis epidemic to a Seattle woman who decided to take her three-month-old son to Target and also had the audacity to breathe on people.
I’ll put the baby gas mask back in storage now.
My lactation consultant suggested I take fenugreek to increase breastmilk production and since one engine is down, I figured, why not? She didn’t tell me, however, that fenugreek smells like an autopsy. I hate taking pills (which is kind of how I got into this baby chaos), especially these brick-sized odorous ones.
My son is suffering from male infantile baldness.
A bear hat serves as a cute remedy and clever disguise.