Thursday, January 28, 2016

The search for The Carrier

There's been a touch of health drama here this week.  Anna finished up her meds for strep last week and was scheduled to return to the pediatrician this afternoon for a repeat culture to ensure that the strep had fully left her system.  This was her second bout of strep since the week before Christmas.  Late Tuesday afternoon Grammy texts me to say that Anna's complaining of a headache and sore throat.  You have got to be kidding me.  Her return visit to the pediatrician was moved to Wednesday morning and she was diagnosed with strep throat.  Again.  So the pediatrician says he needs to see Emily and Allie within 48 hours to rule them out as carriers of strep.  A carrier of strep throat will test positive on a throat culture but will be asymptomatic.

As Grammy is texting this to me, I swallow and my throat hurts.  But I couldn't tell if it really hurt or if I thought it hurt because of all the strep talk.  Think about how your head itches when there's talk of lice.  I was at the tail end of a stupid cold that'd been ongoing for almost two weeks but I knew it was a legit cold because I went through multiple boxes of kleenex.  I did have somewhat of a bad sore throat the first day of the cold but I assumed it was just another symptom of having a cold.

My employer is awesome in that they have their own doctor's office.  A full blown doctor's office.  I knew that Emily and Allie were going to test negative and then everyone would be looking at me, the person who can't seem to stay healthy.  So I called and made an appointment for that afternoon for a throat culture.  I'll nip this right in the bud, I thought.

"Can you tell me why you're here?"

"Well, I have had this cold for over a week and my throat has been hurting on and off and my daughter was just diagnosed with strep again today so I want to make sure I don't have it as well."

"Have you had a fever?"

"Um, I don't think so.  I don't know."

"On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad does your throat hurt today?"

"2.  Maybe a 3.  When I first got sick, it was around a 7."

The nurse plopped the swab in its little testing tray and after 30 seconds told me that it was currently negative.  Then she left the room saying she would be back in a few minutes.  Rapid strep tests take five minutes.  She returned about four minutes later, picked up the strep test, turned it this way and that way and then said she'd be back and left with the test. 

It was positive for strep.

Allie and Emily were tested this morning and they were both negative.  Rich was tested this afternoon.  He is negative.  The girls' pediatrician believes that I am a carrier and has strongly suggested that I return to the health center upon completion of my meds for a repeat culture.

As it turns out, a fair amount of people (and pets) are carriers of the strep bacteria.  It can live in your throat or nose and not be harmful to you.  I've read conflicting reports on whether or not it can spread to others and usually when discussing family members, the opinion is that yes, it can spread.  I've also read that if you are a carrier, it can cause strep throat, the illness to the carrier.

I keep getting sick and I know I've mentioned here and there that I've come down with this or that but I try to keep it to a minimum because 1. who wants to read about that and 2. I don't want to sound like a whiny baby.  There are people out there dealing and battling with far worse.  Three years ago, I was at a low point in terms of health and stress because of work.  My manager at the time was causing all sorts of bullshit drama and I began to have stomach problems because of it.  Rich told me that my health was poor because of work but I wouldn't leave my job for a variety of reasons.  The main one being that my anxiety was through the roof and my self-confidence was gone.  How do you find a new job when you are that low?  (And at one point, Rich was out of work himself.  One of us needed to be employed.)  I will also fight you to the death and I refused to resign from my job because this socially inept woman wanted me to.  I could say that in the end I won because she was forced to leave but realistically no one wins in these types of situations.

When I was diagnosed with strep throat last April, I suspected that I probably had been sick with it at least once over the winter, but had fought it off.  Which you can do but it stays in you for weeks.  This time around, I don't know if I've been fighting it off for two weeks or if it was recently contracted or if the cold I had almost two months ago causing me to lose my voice for two weeks was really a cold or strep or if I'm simply a carrier and getting sick.  I've been extra tired this week and feeling like I need to recharge.  Can I please take a two week vacation away from work and commuting and frigid air blowing in my face and email and laundry and cleaning?  

(Okay, back to good stuff and pretty pictures tomorrow.)    


Ande Malinowski said...

I'm a carrier of strep as well! We were all tested last semester in my microbiology class. I think that especially when you're immunosuppressive, the illness will come on full force. Also, since it's highly contagious and you can catch it from others, you might have given it to Anna, and her to you, in a vicious back and forth cycle (she had, you had it, she has it). Strep is no fun at all, I used to get it so frequently as a kid, much like Anna. It stinks that you guys are going through this. Strep is completely awful.

maureen said...

I don't comment too much, but a couple of posts ago, when you mentioned that Anna had strep again the thought that there might be a carrier in your home did cross my mind. I almost commented about it, but you know, I figured you would think, "Thanks a lot lady, I'm not taking advice from some stranger on the internet!" So glad you found out quickly!

When my son was 10 he got strep 3 times in 6 months. The pediatrician finally decided someone around him was a carrier. At the time we lived with my parents and my dad was always sick so we immediately thought it was him. But no, it was the one person who was never was me! And I have never actually had strep make me sick, but everytime my girls get it I have to be tested too. Sometimes I do have it, but not always, thank goodness!

So glad you all are on the road to recovery! Happy Tax Season to you too! I pray that you have a quick and not too painful season! So far mine is off to a great start! But it is early, and it looks like we will have an early spring here in Kansas, so everyone will be out enjoying the warm weather sooner, and I will be stuck inside working...arghh!