Waving her clipboard and flipping loudly to the next page, she and her lab partner requested to ask me a few questions. I buried my chin to my chest and looked up. I was quite dispassionate to their inquiries but I decided to oblige.
“If you don’t mind I’d like to begin.” Wincing with pain. I sat up and adjusted my IV and nasointestinal tubes.
“Last July, I was traveling through San Joaquin Valley. I just had Jazzy baby about 6 months prior. Myself and younger sister decided to go down to see my daughters father and family . We took the train for about four hours and the bus for 2 hours. Oh how I love LA, and it busy streets, loud obnoxious vendors, and smog filled air. It took us straight into the Los Angeles Union train station. A trip I had taken a million times.”
“Where was the point of transfer? I mean, where did you board the bus and train?”
“Please don’t interrupt. Its rude.” I said with my forehead creased. “You may not get the chance to cover this story again. I may not be around to tell it.
I laughed out loud. It hurt like hell but, it was worth the look on their pale baby faces. The fresh white lab coats suggested they were still wet behind the ears, and earnestly wanted to make an impression on their superiors.
“For your recording purposes. Antioch, California is where we boarded. Bakersfield was our point of transfer from train to bus. It wasn’t until October that I started showing signs of illness. Flu-like symptoms to be exact. Coughing, achy body, loss of appetite, I was miserable. I also developed these soars on my face. Right between the eye and the nose, on both sides. Hideous they were, and very painful. I couldn’t help but pick at them. One of the soars began to form a hole in the core of it. You could see smack dab through it!”
The students both male and female, shifted their feet as other students poured into my room accompanied by the nurse.
“Ms. Butler. Are you feeling okay to continue? I’m here with your meds.”
“I’m okay. I am enjoying the company.”
“We better hurry along with my story.” I directed my attention back to the students. “As soon as this medicine hits my blood stream. I am going to be out like a light.”
“Ms. Butler, What other symptoms do you remember having, that prompted you to see a doctor?”
“Well the damn soars for one. I had never had a problem with acne. The fact they weren’t coming to a head and disseminating was the problem. They were growing and clustering. The Flu symptoms also worsened. I developed a very high fever. I was vomiting more frequently even if I hadn’t eaten, and loosing weight at an abnormal rate.
Halloween night is when I finally decided that something was really wrong. I could barely walk as we strolled through the neighborhood. It was my daughters first Halloween. With the meds and everything going on, I am saddened that I can’t even remember what she was that year,
I was sweating and Fall was coming to a close. It was freezing out. My mom sat with me on a bench in the park where we lived as my siblings rolled Jazz around.
The next morning I went to see a doctor. I wasn’t there 30 minutes before the EMT’s were called. The next thing I knew 3 doctors came in with astronaut looking suits on, and a gurney. Scared to death, my first thought was to run. My mother began to cry immediately.
I suffered through isolation for 3 days. I had very few visitors, and the first set of antibiotics had failed miserably. Lupus and TB were ruled out. So I got removed from isolation. I was glad to reunite with the land of the living. However I was getting worse.
After a few weeks, which turned to roughly three months, I jumped ship and was transferred to San Francisco State Medical Center, and here I am ladies and gentlemen.
Your superior officers have been running tests to see how to attack the disease. It has spread throughout my lungs and filtered my body. My lymph nodes have swollen, and some of the nodules have busted and crusted over.”
“Has Lymphoma been ruled out.”
“Yes! I have Coccidiodomycosis. They call it San Joaquin Valley Fever.”
One of the male interns whipped out his PDA, like a western gun slinger, and began tapping on it swiftly.
“ Coccidioidomycosis is an infection caused by inhaling the microscopic spores of the fungus Coccidioides immitis. Spores are the tiny, thick-walled structures that fungi use to reproduce. Coccidioidomycosis exists in three forms. The acute form produces flu-like symptoms. The chronic form can develop as many as 20 years after initial infection and, in the lungs, can produce inflamed, injured areas that can fill with pus (abscesses). Unfortunately, My form of fungus has disseminated.