What do Nelson Mandela, George Orwell, Tom Jones, Cat Stevens, Desmond Tutu, Florence Nightingale, Edgar Allan Poe and Jason Quinlan all have in common? – We Are All Tuberculosis Survivors!
In March 2008, I had my official “Off Probation” party! I was free — finally free from rednecks cops in South Georgia.
Or was I?
During that time I was in an on-again-off-again relationship with a girl named Yvette. If there is one regret in this book/blog, I should've stayed with Yvette. At the time I was making money hand over fist, I had a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, a condo on the Vegas strip, a Mercedes, was relatively young, in porn, and had bitches on my dick like they had scurvy and I could cum orange juice.
It was a lot of temptation: Being young, rich and having lots of shiny objects. I wanted to live that lifestyle for a minute, or that's what I thought. Now, in this late hour, I can tell you none of it means a goddamn thing.
I admit, I went a bit crazy drinking and partying when the whole probation debacle had ended. I would selfishly break up with my girlfriend, so I could go out and go nuts, and then we would always wind up back together.
But just a month later, in April 2009 I started to wake up late at night drenched in mysterious pools of sweat. At first, I thought it was just my nerves or maybe just partying. As the weeks went on, my condition worsened.
1. Menopause – I could rule that one out!
2. Tuberculosis – Nobody gets that disease anymore!!
3. AIDS – I knew it, I had the monster: The High Five. All those women. All that unprotected sex. I went down to the AIM clinic (the old porn clinic) to get checked for HIV. You'd get your results in 24 hours. That endless night, I mentally Rolodexed every shady piece of pussy I've banged. I narrowed down to 2 or 3 girls that gave me the bug. Fortunately, of the tests came back negative. For a short time, the symptoms abated. I chalked it all up to being psychosomatic.
It wasn't long before the symptoms came back except a worse. I would start sweating the bed so profusely that I would have to change my clothes and sheets two or three times almost every night, during the day I began to feel weak, but oddly enough I never coughed up blood or did anything like your typical tuberculosis patient.
By the end of May, I couldn't ignore the sickness anymore. I was starting to feel run down and losing weight, but still wasn't convinced that it was anything serious, so I went to see a doctor and told him, “I think I have the flu.” He checked my breathing. My left lung obstructed. The doctor said I should go directly to the emergency room and get a chest x-ray. It didn't seem like my left lung, was inflating.
I was so sick that one of my lungs had already collapsed. The funny thing was, the doctors said my lung had been collapsed for about two weeks. Even stranger, I was still able to workout and go on 20-mile-bike rides. I had no clue I was doing it on one lung!
I got to the emergency room and admitted immediately; I still didn't think I was that sick. The medics start running all kinds of tests, X-rays, TB, HIV, bloodwork, immune response, and everything checked out normal, but I keep getting sicker and sicker. That is the thing with TB, once the virus goes “active” it doesn't show up anymore on those pinprick tests like you used to get school. What they are doing is injecting a small amount of tuberculosis to see if your body will resist it. Of course, when your body is loaded with TB the test turned out negative.
Once I have a negative TB and HIV test they began treating me for rare diseases such as Valley Fever. They put me on antibiotics so hard-core it wasn't used in humans anymore. That just made me sicker.
X-rays show that I have a massive effusion in my pleural cavity. They drain the liquid out of me by sticking some spikes in my back. I was awake for this, and it was terrifying, but the infection it still keeps coming. The doctors think it might be TB and order a second round of test that proves inconclusive.
Halfway through my stay, I have to get a major operation (a thoracostomy) to remove the infection from my lungs. The operation is a success, but the infection still keeps coming. If the source of the infection still couldn't identify, so if this didn't stop I was going to go through all of this again
After being in the hospital for 18 days, they think that I way have had and am released. The day after I get home, a blood test used to screen for TB came back positive. To find out if I had TB, I would have to wait six weeks for the results of my biopsy. To be safe, I was placed on a regimen of anti-TB meds.
The odd thing is withing 3-4 days of taking them I felt as if nothing had happened.
In July, the results of my biopsy came back: I had tuberculosis. Worse yet, I've left the hospital with an active case of it. To this very day they quarantine TB patients.
I probably had contracted TB somewhere overseas in my travels or (even more ironically) in prison. TB an airborne disease that anyone can get, one-out-of-3 persons in the world ARE exposed to it; it just requires something to wear you body down (in my case it was alcohol) enough to become active. I also had atypical pleural TB, which isn't in your lungs, so I could't cough and spread it. If you hung out with me in that period you are fine “I wasn't contagious”.
I spent the whole summer of 2009 sober. I wasn't even smoking weed. Honestly, once the TB meds had taken effect, I felt pretty much normal, aside from the pain from the surgery.
If you have been reading this far, you probably realize: I like to drink. I can't help it. I suffer from a form of social anxiety. I am a silent and shy person naturally; it takes some alcohol to bring be out of my shell. When I am sober, even the most mundane of social scenarios make me nervous and fidgety. If you know me, that may seem ridiculous, but it's true.
One of the cruel tricks TB meds play on you is they completely cure the disease (if taken correctly) but destroy your liver at the same time. The state also assigns the health department on you. It's a total pain in the balls, and ironically it was just like probation!
The last 6 months of 2009, I have been getting complete blood workups done once a month and as of December 17, 2009, I was completely cured, and my liver survived. I would always ask the doctor “Are you sure you have the right chart?” when he said everything as OK.
So, I am free to live my life again, right?