"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted."
I, too,am a person who had a history of TB way back 2006. I am treated without previous manifestations except for the positive x-ray. After years of keeping my experience with tuberculosis a secret, a few months ago I decided to become open about my condition.I cannot tell you how difficult it was for a person to accept the fact that he or she has tb. Since the time when we were very young we have all been conditioned to accept that if someone is contagious, that person should be avoided.I was more concerned of how others will look at me when they will find out because I am aware healthy people are not comfortable with the thought of living with a seriously ill person in their neighborhood, being in school with them, or being in their workplace. We still frighten them. But life in general is beautiful! My world should not stop because I had it. There are still people that love and accept me, my hubby, my family, and my friends. So there is no need for me to push people away.
After the first day of my medical exam last September 19, 2011 when I blogged about it here, the next day I was going to get my result. The guard at the entrance stamped my receipt with "For Sputum Exam". Those with no problem on the first day will be asked to proceed to the 2nd floor for the immunization. At the 4th floor, I waited for half an hour until called and given instruction. The nurse told me to come back on October 3,4, & 5 for my sputum exam. For others it might be a surprise, but me and my hubby were a bit expecting the worse already that I too will be asked to take the sputum exam since I had the tb before. I even asked the staff nurse if there is a possible way for me to have the sputum exam the next day,so I don't need to go back home and spend another plane fare plus it will be too stressful to be flying home and back again but, she didn't give me my request. She gave me back my receipt, passport,yellow form(to be submitted during the first day of sputum exam), and a small paper containing instructions on how to properly collect the sputum.
-I couldn't sleep that night. I woke up around 1 a.m. and stayed awake until it was about time to shower. I arrived at St. Luke's before 5 a.m. although the instruction said the sputum exam will start at 6:30 a.m. I was sure that a lot of people will also come early, and I was right! I was one of the few people to start waiting in line and got no.6 since it was still early but after a couple of minutes there were already several people behind me. The guard at the entrance allowed us to get inside around 5:30 a.m. We were given a mask after presenting the documents. We put on our mask and used the big elevator going to the 4th floor. We were seated and waited for the next instructions. The staff nurse then called numbers from ascending order and collected our documents excluding the receipt. After a few minutes, they called by batches of 20 to proceed to rooftop for the collection of the sputum.
-At the rooftop, we were seated and called one by one and asked to sign somewhat like an attendance sheet, one signature every day for 3 days. The staff nurse checked checked the file at the computer and scan the label at the sterile sputum container which are specifically assigned to each applicant. The nurse then gave me back my passport and a piece of paper then asked me to proceed to the collection area. At the collection area, I rinsed my mouth with the purified water. Another nurse asked me my full name and escorted me to a vacant seat where I will be seated during the sputum collection. She also instructed me what to do and what not to do. I tried to cough but it was hard since I don't have a cough. I tried and tried until I was able to collect enough then she asked me to come back tomorrow early and gave me back my passport and the appointment slip. My throat was beginning to sore from forcing myself to cough several times.
-It was the same process except that during that time it rained so we had the sputum collection at the 4th floor Sputum Collection Area between the Female restroom and the Reception. There were sealed cubicles inside. When It was my turn, I was seated inside the cubicle facing the posted instruction. I am not sure why they prefer the fresh air but maybe it cost more to use the cubicles because when I was done and gave her the collected sputum, she pushed a button near the door maybe to disinfect the cubicle for the next user;while at the rooftop they don't need to do that. And so, I was told to come back again early tomorrow.
-There were few people that day compared to the first two days. We were back to doing the sputum collection at the rooftop. After giving the nurse the collected sputum, she instructed me to come back tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. for the pulmonary evaluation.
-I was at St. Luke's at 5:00 a.m. although my appointment was still at 8:30 a.m. I was already worried what my initial result would be. I got inside around 7:00 a.m. and the guard stamp my appointment slip "Pulmonary Evaluation (2nd Flr)". I was number 1 but the nurse arranged us so that those who had undergo tb treatment and those who already waited 2 months are called first, my number became no. 13. Oh my! I was scared and thinking. Isn't 13 is an unlucky number. I was praying all the time until it was my turn. When inside the doctor's cubicle, I smiled and greeted her and she did the same. She asked me if I have family/relatives with previous tb and I said "No one doc, only me". She asked me if I have felt any symptoms like backache,cough for 2 weeks, or coughing out blood,I replied, "None doc". She asked me questions such as when I was treated, what medications I took, the dosage and if I have a medical certificate. I showed her my medical but she asked me to go back to my doctor and asked her to add few details that are missing. She also added I can just send them the revised medical certificate through a courier. She explained to me what she saw in the x-ray. Thank God, the result of the sputum smears are all negative. I guess not all no.13 are unlucky. She just told me to wait for the 2 months just to be sure I don't need another treatment and I am really healthy to go to America.
-I gave the papers from the doctor to the staff nurse, then he explained to me what day should I call. He said the sputum culture will end on November 30 but I will have to start calling them on or after December 5. He also told me to give the PDS no. when calling the clinic. Regarding the expiration of my medical exam, he said I should be able to leave the country before March 5,2012 or I will have to do the medical exam plus the 2 months sputum culture again. So I guess I will just have to pray for them not to call me before Nov.30. Please help me God...
Before ending this post, I would like to share some tips regarding the sputum culture.
1. Do not eat your breakfast before the sputum collection. It will be a waste of time and effort for you to be coughing out and if they see food particles in the specimen they will not accept it. They will ask you to come back. Only water is allowed.
2. For those who wants to brush their teeth inside the clinic or those who traveled from afar, they may brush their teeth at the restrooms. Do NOT use any mouthwash before the test, as these contain anti-bacterial substances that can affect the outcome of the test. So too is the case with antibiotics, so if you have taken any recently, inform your doctor about it.
3. Do not wear any lipstick or lip gloss, for females.
4. You should be able to provide 5-10 ml of the sample sputum.
5. Keep the container closed until you are ready to spit into it to avoid contamination from the mouth or saliva of the individual. .
6. Bring a handkerchief or tissue with you during the collection because you will be asked to cover your mouth when coughing.
7. For you to be able to collect sputum fast even if you don't have a cough, I suggest you cough continuously. Do not swallow the sputum,expel it only when you feel like spitting out.
8.If St.Luke's will call you before the two months is over, it means you are positive and will be needing treatment for 6 months.
Let's all hope and pray for the best. God is always has reason for everything. We may not know it yet but I believe we will all be able to reach our destination in His time...