Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ghosts of Infections Past: Back in 1997, when my son was about four years old, he had a positive tuberculosis test. There followed a chest X-ray, which was clear, and we figured he had maybe been exposed to TB at his Russian orphanage but never contracted it. He took medication for six months, and that was that ... except he's never to have the TB skin test again. That last caution is the only thing that's kept this weird little medical episode in my mind; I always mention it to school nurses, and anytime we have to fill out a medical form his pediatrician has to document that treatment as a reason for no recent testing. It's one of those relics of the past, like a scar or the mark on my daughter's ankle from an IV in infancy. There, but who cares.

And yet, this week, it roared back to mess us up. He was slated to have a summer job working in the food-service department at a hospital. I'd heard that he might need Hepatitis B shots, which he's had, but no one mentioned a TB test until recently, and ... well. According to the paperwork from the hospital, to work in a healthcare setting, he needs to not only document his TB treatment but also present a recent clear chest X-ray. He doesn't have one of those, and our insurance won't pay for one unless there's a health need, which there isn't. Paying for an X-ray so he can have a part-time minimum-wage job doesn't make much sense. So now there's a scramble to find him another job placement, and somebody else for his, somebody with an easier health history.

Really, it's probably just as well. Hygiene isn't my guy's strong suit, and I was a little worried about what he might pick up at a hospital. It's just a weird feeling, as someone who is constantly dealing with current challenges and maladies, to get sideswiped by an old forgotten issue. Things fade, but they never go away.