i was checking out my blog stats, and thought it was curious to see that my consistently most popular post is the one i wrote several years ago when we were dealing with some health issues my husband was going through. 

so well, i thought it might finally be time to tell the rest of the story.

i was hugely pregnant like i am now, and my husband who had been complaining about his neck being stiff, came back from a business trip with a huge lump on the side of his neck. i'd been trying to get him to go to the doctor just for the stiffness, but this was the last straw and he couldn't get out of it anymore.

i was a bit freaked, and i'm sure being pregnant and hormonal didn't help matters. when our doctor sent him immediately to a surgeon and ordered a CT scan that didn't reassure me at all.

our first fear was lymphoma. the huge swollen lump on his neck turned out to definitely be a lymph node, and it needed surgically removed asap, but a biopsy was going to be the only way to know for sure what was going on. 

our regular doctor had considered some infectious diseases since my husband is from india. he'd already tried to order a skin test to rule out TB, but most indians give a false positive result for the skin test due to a childhood vaccine, and chest X-rays showed his lungs to be clear.

when the biopsy results came back it thankfully was NOT lymphoma, which had seemed the most likely candidate, but it was tuberculosis after all! what a weird feeling that was...being happy about a diagnosis of TB! we still had a crazy road ahead of us though.

we were then referred to the CDC, who handle all TB cases to make sure it doesn't spread to the general public. another blessing about my husband's TB is that it was only confined to the lymph nodes and not the lungs. tuberculosis is only really contagious when it's in the lungs. 

however, his surgery site on his neck had to be kept open with a drain to let the bacteria continually come out so it wouldn't build up in that area again. of course the site was covered, but yours truly got to play nurse. which meant wearing full gloves and a tb resistant face mask and disposing the toxic bandage waste each day when i would change it...all at 8/9 months pregnant too! all this was necessary since there was a very slight chance of the bacteria becoming airborne when i would change the bandages.

we didn't tell most people what was really going on. we just said my husband had an infection in his lymph nodes, which was true. the CDC actually recommended we keep things on the DL since people can get paranoid if they learn someone has TB. we didn't want to end up on the news or anything. but the next year and a half of our lives turned out to be an adventure!

they were able to tell us pretty confidently the week of his initial surgery that TB was what we were dealing with, but there are a lot of different strains of the bacteria that respond to different medications, so now we had to wait for them to grow his sample in a lab and see what it responded to. TB is super slow growing, so this took a couple of months. 

but in the mean time, they couldn't get him go untreated, so he began taking the most common tb medications. this meant that every morning, a representative from the CDC would come to our house and bring him a package of pills and watch him take it at 7:30am. it's called directly observed therapy, and the government handles tb in this way because if someone skips medication and isn't consistent then the bacteria can mutate and form a resistance to the traditional medications. this is actually a huge problem in other parts of the world (including india), where drug resistant TB gets spread in the general population by people who don't treat it properly. needless to say, we got to know the CDC employees really well. i can't imagine what our neighbors must have thought about a car labelled CDC being parked at our house every morning!

(shomik with his newborn daughter...and still recovering from a surgery on his neck.)

around this time our daughter jia was born, and a couple weeks after that my husband needed another surgery for another lymph node that was about to explode. the CDC's infectious disease doctor would check my husband regularly to make sure no lymph nodes were about to burst since many of the ones in his neck turned out to be infected. if one were to burst it could spread the bacteria into other systems of his body, including the lungs, which would in turn make things much more contagious. 

so with a baby almost 3 weeks old, by husband had a second surgery. 2-3 more surgeries would follow over the next year. crazily enough i can't remember exactly how many there were. that whole time in our lives is kind of a blur. around this time we finally got his lab results which told us that he actually had a multi drug resistant strain of TB. that means that he probably caught the disease from someone in india who hadn't treated their own TB properly and it mutated. it also meant a longer course of treatment for him. thankfully though it was still responsive to some alternative drugs. there are some scary strains out there that are pretty much resistant to everything now.

anyways, to make a long story short, from beginning to end his treatment ended up being about 1.5 years before he was considered "cured". there were lots of bandages and surgeries and doctors appointments involved in that time period, but it kind of became the norm. our daughter was more than a year old when we finally said good bye to the CDC employee who would come and administer my husband's medication every day. it was a little sad, since she had almost become like an auntie!

i'm so thankful though that my husband was able to be treated and cured. i can't imagine what the outcome would have been if we lived 100 years ago! thank God for modern medicine, and for taking care of all of us. it was definitely an interesting journey, and one i'm thankful that we're on the other side of! now that i'm at the end of this pregnancy it's bringing back the memories so i thought i should write down that whole adventure in case i forget any more of it! 

and i have to confess, it's kind of nice to be the one getting spoiled at the end of the pregnancy this time! ;) i'm hoping for a lot more normal and boring this time around!

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