Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Which I Am Quarantined

I have strep throat, which I haven't had for almost THREE DECADES. The reason I know exactly how long it's been, is that it was a particularly memorable period in my childhood. [Oh goody! a story, a story!]

When I was in third grade, I came down with strep throat... then again... then again... at which point, I lost count. Back in the 70s, the routine was this: You get a sore throat, they take a swab to test it for strep bacteria, the following day they let you know if you have it, you go back and get a penicillin shot. You then are quarantined for 3 days, and 2 weeks later you go back for another swab to make sure it's gone. Well, it never did go away! The symptoms disappeared after the first round, but every fortnight the tests said I still had it.

It really became quite dreadful, and I mean it - Full of Dread. I was in my most needle-phobic stage at that point, and so when I would go for a swab, the next day I would be more and more scared as the day progressed until lunchtime was over, when my class would line up at the door to leave, and when the door opened, my mom would be there to take me back to the doctor for another shot.

I missed a LOT of school that year; my mom would sometimes leave me with a neighbor since she was doing something [hmm, that's a puzzler - she wasn't working, so why did she need a sitter? odd...] and I would play with their kids' toys and neglect the homework I was supposed to be doing. They even swabbed everyone in the family, to see if my parents or sisters were strep carriers... which they weren't.

After 4-5 rounds of this, one day after a swab I came out of the lunchroom, and my mom wasn't there waiting. I was almost giddy with relief! I could barely wait to get off the bus after school, and I raced into my mom's room where she was sewing and said "I'm not sick!" to which she replied "actually, you still are," and explained that she had persuaded them to give me oral penicillin instead since I so dreaded the shots, and that I would have to take it for several days. Fine by me! We pretty much just let it drop at that point - I never did go back for another test, since the symptoms had long since disappeared, and we never did figure out why the disease had continued to show up.

I haven't had any kind of sore throat except for allergy-related sinus drainage since that time, and I had become rather smug that my childhood experience with strep had built up UBER-immunities. So when I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat, I went "oh darn - allergy-time!" and proceeded to treat that. But by Wednesday, my throat had gotten much worse, and I realized that my allergy hadn't progressed like usual, so I went in for a swab that afternoon. It was funny - my nurse must have apologied 3 or 4 times that the swab was going to make me gag (which it did), and when I asked her what the treatment was nowadays, she said penicillin pills for 10 days, I just laughed and said swab away - I could think of MUCH more uncomfortable things than a gag reflex!

So I am isolated at home for the next 48 hours, which is quite a nuisance, since I've probably already exposed several dozen people to it, what with working on people's computer keyboards and attending social events, etc. AND, that means 2 precious days I could be working, and can't. Plus my TV watching is curtailed for Lent, so no consolation there!

April 18: I didn't mention that I suspected that I caught it from my sister's family; some of them had it a few weeks back. Well, now almost all of them have it again (4 kids and my sister) so I will probably be catching it again in about 2 weeks. *sigh*

1 comment:

DesiDancer said...

My friend Nik seems to have gone through the same thing last year. She had strep 4 or 5 times in a row, and by law her doctor was required to report her case to the CDC!

and like your case, strangely one day it stopped coming back, and nobody ever knew why it happened in the first place...