Thursday, August 17, 2006

Live-Blogging My Syphilis Test

There, I knew that would get your attention.

But it wasn't just a gambit to get my site meter numbers up. I really did spend this morning at the Lentz Metro Health Clinic in the STD lab. Pull up a carpet square, little kiddies, and let Uncle Cee tell you a little story.

Long-time readers of The Dry Spot know that I'm a frequent platelet donor at the American Red Cross. I wasn't surprised to get an envelope from them in the mail earlier this week. They call all the time telling me about a specific cancer patient that has my blood type and send me free tickets to the races out at the Speedway as a thank you, so I figured it was something like that.

The letter began with the typical, "Thank you for your recent donation on August 4. We appreciate the time and effort you spent to donate blood for others."

"Why, you're welcome," my internal monologue beamed.

Imagine my surprise when the next paragraph began, "When we tested your blood, we obtained results that indicate that you may have an infection with syphilis."

Huh?! That's a great big ole' WTF! Let's see, I've been in a monogamous relationship with RUABelle for almost 16 years. And I know I've been a good boy. Promise Keepers good. And RUABelle is a kindergarten teacher, ferchrissakes! Beyond reproach and suspicion.

Plus, I have given blood products 75 times in the last ten years and had my blood tested every time for every STD known to man. So obviously, there must be some sort of mistake, right?

I availed myself of the Red Cross counselor hot line number on the letter to inquire about false positives. The woman on the other line sounded very friendly and positive until she got my file and called me back.

I told her that I was in a monogamous relationship and that there was no way I could have contracted syphilis. "Yeah, we hear that a lot," she said drolly. "All I can tell you is that your test was positive and that you need to seek medical care immediately. We have to report this to the Metro Health Department, and you are now deferred from donating any blood products indefinitley."

Well, f*ck you very much, too.

After doing some internet research, (which I always tell other people not to do since it only makes you hysterical) I tried to make an appointment with a urologist that is covered by my health care plan at work. No dice. They were all scheduling into October. What is with all you guys out there taking up all the appointments for us in need? Maybe they were looking for a cute young female urologist with slender fingers and left me with nothing but an ex-wrestler named "Stubby."

So I opted for the walk-in clinic at Lentz. No appointment necessary, and confidentiality ensured. (Until you blog about it.)

I got there this morning and went to room 116 down a secluded hallway with the window covered by black construction paper. Nice confidentiality touch, I thought. The waiting room was spacious and there were only a few people waiting before me. In the interest of decorum, I won't describe any of them, but I will say that there wasn't a lot of eye-contact going on in that room. The receptionist was helpful and discreet. I was issued a number which was how I was referred to for the rest of my office visit. Another good touch.

The Lentz Clnic is on an "ability to pay" basis for services, and I certainly have the ability to pay. But the entire visit was free of charge. They offer testing for all sorts of STDs without judgement and in a very confidential manner. Even though I could have had the whole menu of test done, I already had good results from my last blood donation. Oh yeah, except for that syphilis thing. So why don't you please just test that.

After waiting about 30 minutes in the lobby, I was called back by a smiling nurse. She sat me down immediately and started to take my history. I hate it when they call you from a waiting room and put you in a smaller waiting room. I appreciated the quick attention.

I handed her the letter from the Red Cross and started to answer her questions. I detected a very small bit of skepticism from the beginning, but it rapidly shifted to confusion, especially after she saw my blood donation record. She said, "That's not right," and left the room to confer with a doctor.

"That's not right" good? or "that's not right" bad?, I wondered. I heard mumbling outside the door which ended with. "Well, draw some blood and we'll figure out what the hell's going on."

I hoped that meant it was a good "that's not right." She came in, tapped one of my veins which might as well have a shunt for the amount of times the Red Cross has accessed them, and took the samples to the lab.

While we waited for the results, she took me on a wonderful pictorial journey through the symptoms of syphilis. "Nope, haven't seen it look like that." "Uh, no, I believe I would have already sought medical care if it was falling off like that." "Which way is up in that picture?" "That looks like a pizza."

I know she was probably required by procedure to fully inform me, but I was pretty much put off of eating for the rest of today. She finally told me that my tests should be ready and she didn't expect them to show anything. She left the room and returned immediately with a smile on her face and said, "Yup, it's negative."

Now I always get confused about whether a negative test is good or bad, just like I never remember which is worse-first degree or third degree burns. But her smile let me know that everything was ok. She has to send off a confirmation test which I won't know about for a week, but I know (as I've always known) that there's nothing to worry about.

So in summary:
CeeElCee doesn't have the syph.
RUABelle and I are fine and faithful.
I still can't donate blood again for a year, so I might as well get a tattoo. (Any suggestions?)
I'm not bitter at the Red Cross and will donate again as soon as they will let me.

And most importantly of all, if you ever have any suspicions about any sort of STD, go on down to the Lentz Clinic on 23rd Avenue North. They are professional, confidential, efficient, affordable and an extremely valuable resource for our community. They can also offer counseling and treatment. Don't be embarrased to get checked. They are not judgemental. Catching a disease is unfortunate. Spreading it because you won't get tested is tragic.


Anonymous brittney said...

"That looks like a pizza."


12:07 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

This was awesome! You should definitely get a tattoo in celebration of all your heroism.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Sarcastro said...

Your tattoo can say,

12:20 PM  
Blogger W said...

I just had pizza for lunch....ewww.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

You know, the eligibility guidelines say you can't give for 12 months after being treated for syphilis. Seems like a documented false positive would get you out of that restriction.

12:44 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Wow. And I mean Wow.
Did you have to do some 'splaining as Sista Smiff would say?
In all honesty, this must have been awful.

1:24 PM  
Blogger ceeelcee said...


I asked them. Since I had a positive reactivity test in their system, they can’t undo that. I know they’re doing the proper thing, procedure-wise. I should probably emphasize that I’m not bitter at the ARC and will donate again as soon as they will let me. I’m just disappointed that somebody else will have to step in for my platelets. And that I was a couple of donations away from 10 gallons and getting my name on a plaque in the hallway.

Lone Wolf Tattoo, here I come!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Can I B Frank said...

Seems to me that you're now qualified to join the Phonak professional cycling team.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

yup, lonewolf is the best place.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, I haven't done platelets yet, maybe I should. Do you get the tingling in your lips? That seems weird.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Kathy T. said...

Dude. Glad it wasn't "falling off". Otherwise I'd have said "Dudette."

2:11 PM  
Blogger SistaSmiff said...

As that brilliant poet, Paul Craft, once said...Gonorrhea ain't nothing to clap about.

Nor is syphillis.

I'll have to tell you my HPV story someday. Maybe over bbq.

2:15 PM  
Blogger saraclark said...

Well what are you going to blame the paranoia and dementia on now?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

So did you talk to the Missus before you had the negative-stamped test result in your hand?

Cause I see that story going over better when you're telling it in the past tense.
"Honey, the wierdest thing happened today, but it was all a mixup."

On a similar note, our paper's Ann Landers knock off had a letter from a woman, who suddenly developed Herpes. She claims that she's failthful, but she's having a hard time making her husband believe it.

4:16 PM  
Blogger ceeelcee said...

I walked right up to her as soon as I got the letter and said, "If I had anything to worry about, I would never show you this," and read it to her.

If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what your story was.

4:23 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

I'm in town.
You are getting so ragged tonight.
Incidentally, my sis has a story regarding herpes.
She didn't have it either, but its a whopper.

5:34 PM  
Blogger John H said...

As an employee of the state Health department and one who works frequently with the fine folks at Lentz, I'm really glad you had a good experience down there. I've found the STD staff in all parts of the Health Department to be courteous, non-judgemental and helpful (my interaction thusfar with these peeps is a WORKING relationship, but one never knows...obviously, based on this post).

Great post, C...

5:35 PM  
Blogger muse: nashville said...

As a teacher, I always have "summer jobs" to keep me busy throughout the hot months, and this summer I worked with Lentz to help them migrate from one filing system to another. It was a snoozefest, but my days in the STD clinic were my favorite, by far (ha ha, oh, I never thought I'd say that), just because everyone there is extra nice. Anyway, I had no idea that the metro health department had such a wide array of services, and was completely surprised at how well-run and profession it all was. So yes, two thumbs up to the STD ladies.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A false pos Syphilis test can be due to current or previous infection of any spirochetal disease..This ranges from Rocky Mountain Spotted fever to Lyme disease..U could check for antibodies to those to be sure..

3:52 PM  
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1:08 PM  
Blogger Cutie_Gorgeous12 said...

Some preventive measures are abstinence; the best way to avoid NGU or any sexually transmitted infection is to not have anal, vaginal or oral sex.

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3:16 AM  

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