It is my one-month anniversary of living loud and proud with latent TB. See past post if you have no idea what I am talking about and are scared of/for me.
I would say so far it has been okay (vague word, but how else does one describe the silliness of this?). The positives: blog post topic, serious street cred, unique anecdote to share, probably healthy to not drink, inspired me to do a yoga teacher training! The cons: everything else.
The first week or so I felt very dizzy on the antibiotics. When I called my doctor I heard words a doctor would never dare utter to me in the past, “You were absolutely correct to call about this. Please call me anytime about any concerns and the nurses will find me.” It is freaky when a doctor who deals with people with infectious diseases makes you feel like a priority patient.
I have felt better since that first week, but continue to blame everything on the antibiotics. This includes: crankiness, exhaustion, nauseous, vivid dreams, appetite changes, headaches, and sunburn. Anyone who knows me knows I usually experience about half of that list on any given day.
Another thing anyone who knows me knows is that I am usually an over-sharer and am not one to keep my personal stories to myself (as shown in this blog). Also I would like to be in the running as the poster child for latent TB so I have a lot of publicity to get started on.
This past weekend I visited NYC and saw several friends who did not know about my infectious disease debacle. I decided to change up how I did the big latent TB reveal. At one dinner I decided to not drink and see how long it took for a friend to say something. At another gathering I interrupted a contentious political discussion with, “In other news, I have tuberculosis.” They continued their heated sentence thinking I was offering my opinion in the debate and then, “Wait what?!”
The second sentence of each of these conversations was, “I am not contagious and have never been contagious.” People’s reactions have completely made me rethink how my germaphobe tendencies probably make other people feel. The friends who didn’t think twice about offering me a sip of their drink or a bite of their food after I revealed my situation made me feel like they trusted me and know I would never put them at risk. I can’t be sure if would have done the same, but I like to think I will in now.
Here are the FAQs that would follow for certain people who still doubted that I was not contagious:
1) “Are you sure you are not contagious?” “Yes I am definitely not contagious I have never actually had TB and I have asked multiple specialists about this.”
2) “How can you not be contagious?” “You had the chicken pox when you were young and it is still in your blood, but you are not contagious now.”
3) “Has Shaun been tested?” Eye roll, “Nope boyfriends are not a special rule for the whole not contagious situation.”
The next stage of questioning would be:
1) “How did you get this?” The truth is I don’t know, but Kenya sounds the coolest so I usually defaulted with, “Probably last summer in Kenya.”
2) “Do you have to take medicine?” “Yes and I can’t drink for four months!” Amazed looks from friends would follow.
Now about what its like to not drink. First of all anyone who thinks it is not hard must not have any trace of social anxiety and I hate them (JK, but really?). Shaun has patiently put up with my whining and sad face before we are going out to dinner or when the hostess innocently suggests we wait at the bar and get a drink. Like anxiety not drinking is hardest in advance of or at the beginning of an experience, but once I am seated at a dinner or sipping tea at a bar (embarrassing) then it really is not that big of a deal. I have become a mocktail connoisseur and asked several talented bartenders around NYC to make fun drinks for me with no alcohol. This is also an easy way to disguise the fact that I am not drinking for times when I do not feel like explaining the details of latent TB.
In NYC Shaun and I would have probably gone to a bar for a drink at happy hour or had a cocktail with brunch, but instead we replaced drinking with eating. What to do at 5pm on a Friday when we would usually have a drink? How about tacos? (Day one) Or coffee (throughout the day)? Or empanadas? (Day two). To be honest I am not sure which is the healthier habit, but hey I am just trying to get by here.
I have never realized how much people expect you to drink in all circumstances. Trying to relax and not think about latent TB I got a facial on vacation and the facialist asked if I wanted a glass of wine. When I said no she asked if I was sure because apparently I am the only person who does not drink after a facial. At dinners out they shove the wine list in my face and ask a few times if I want a drink. To not drink in the U.S. takes serious effort.
At my sister’s suggestion I have been thinking through a list of top reasons a person would not be drinking:
1) Pregnant (or nursing)
2) Recovering alcoholic
3) Trying to save money
4) Trying to save calories or doing a cleanse
6) Drank too much the night before
7) Just getting over the flu, cold, etc.
8) Alcoholism runs in family and so making an effort not to drink
9) Big meeting, commitment, or exam
10) On antibiotics for latent TB!!!!!!
I have decided to proudly use reason number 10! Hopefully it will inspire other latent TB sufferers (please let there be others out there)!
Here are some pics of the food and other random pictures I took in NYC: