Sunday, July 24, 2011

The chances of you having Strep Throat are really minimal...

Hi Aspierations Friends,

Judging by my blog title, I don't think it will take Nancy Drew to solve the mystery of tonight's topic!

If you checked out my last blog post, Memories Made at the Melting Pot - Happy 19th Anniversary, you already know that John and I had a fun-do time eating fondue on our anniversary evening date.

What I didn't mention was that last Monday on that special anniversary morning, I woke up with a really sore throat.  Having just had iron infusions for anemia the previous Wednesday (my ferritin level was at a 2...), I had been dealing with a variety of side effects over the weekend but there was no way, NO WAY with a childsitter already scheduled for the boys on Monday that I was going to let anything ruin my anniversary night date with my husband.

I noticed pretty quickly that it hurt to swallow as well.  Uh-oh... Warning bells went off in my head. On average of once or twice a year during my childhood and teen years, I would get strep throat.  It was during this period that I learned I was allergic to pencillin, ampicillin and amoxicillin.  I learned the hard way... fun times!  I'm not sure how common strep is with other autism spectrum kiddos and adults. So far, neither of my sons has had strep but my oldest gets 1 or 2 ear infections a year and my youngest seems to be developing allergies. If you or a member in your family is on the spectrum and you had strep regularly as well, either as a kid or adult, please post in the comments section.

For awhile when I was a kid, I fantasized about having a tonsillectomy to take care of the recurring strep throat issue.  This of course was motivated by the thought that I would then get to eat an unlimited amount of ice cream afterwards.  As I got older, having the tonsillectomy seemed less appealing but eating lots of ice cream continued to be enticing!

Strep did follow me as an unwelcome guest into my college years and occasionally in my 20s and early 30s but it seemed to go away after that.  I can't say that I missed the experience.

Having had strep so frequently, I certainly could recognize the signs.  REALLY sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen glands, slight fever...  Every time I went in for a strep throat culture unequivocally it was positive so I didn't need a license to practice medicine to figure this one out.

Yet on Monday night, anniversary night, I ignored all of that because as I said before... there was NO way I was missing this date with John... and because I was able to do so, I even thought that maybe, just maybe I was wrong and that I didn't have strep at all, just some sore throat side effect of the iron infusions.

So... Tuesday morning rolls around and OUCH... not looking good.  Not a convenient time to be sick with John or the boys...(like ANY time is convenient!!).

No time to be sick because I had so much work to do but I knew... just knew things were not looking good. I slept in during the morning and that helped somewhat. The kids both had day camp for part of the day and then swim lessons later and since it was their last lesson, I promised Ryan that I would be there. I did not want to have a very sad and disappointed 5 year old that had been talking animatedly the past couple days about his Mommy coming to watch him swim.

I told myself, don't touch anyone, be as anti-social with strangers as possible, don't get anyone else sick!  I did a really good job on the anti-social and not touching people part... Surprised??? (A little Aspie humor for you... emphasis on little...)  Hopefully no-one near me got sick.

The kids both seemed fine and John, who has not had the best year cold and flu-wise also seemed healthy, although he recently had a bit of minor neck surgery so he wasn't particularly gleeful.  Just one more day and then if I didn't feel good Wednesday, I would go to the doctor's.

Wednesday rolled around and it was not pretty.  I resigned myself at this point to the fact that I had strep. I allowed myself a 30 minute pity party in bed where I tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. I then decided that I needed to get antibiotics, something which I dreaded intensely since I seem to be allergic to so many. (There are others on the list above, but I won't get into that now.)  Still, I didn't want to risk my family getting sick and should I dare go out in public, to infect a stranger.

John took me in the late afternoon to our local Kaiser where I was seen for a rapid strep test.  The man who saw me and administered the test was not at all convinced I had strep.  He was certainly a nice enough fellow and I wasn't arrogant enough to tell him that I knew that he was wrong so I sat quietly and listened while he rattled off statistics such as only 1 adult in 10 that has the throat culture actually has strep.  (Yeah, I know about those 1 in XXX statistics... hmm... Autism?  Asperger's?  rare allergies to medicine?)

He then went on to share again that it is really rare for adults to get strep (uh-huh, go on, what was this about a rapid strep test), my temperature was only 99.8 (which for me is high since I generally run below "normal", go figure) and well... my story to him about thinking I caught strep from an older gentleman standing in front of me in line at Kaiser the day I had my iron infusions just seemed way far-fetched.

The way he looked at me made me think that he thought I was a hypochondriac.  The way I looked at him was polite but skeptical.  Another reason I really dislike going to the doctor's office is because even if I explain my symptoms very logically (with pages of notes and research to back it up... that might be the part that freaks them out), even if I make a supposition that I might have so-and-so (and be right), there seems to be this "look" I get back that gives me the feeling that because I didn't go through umpteen years of med school, I must be certifiably nuts.

Not nuts... (well, maybe a little nuts... macadamia if I had to choose) but with all due respect, I've had more years experience living with MY body than you have, Mr / Ms. Doctor / Nurse and there are some things it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out. For example, if I TELL you I'm allergic to a certain kind of medicine, you don't give me the generic equivalent and tell me it's okay. (Been there...)

I see I'm well on my way down tangent lane so let me get back to my original anecdote.  This is the part where I'm sitting and waiting for Dr. "The Chances of you having Strep Throat are really MINIMAL" to finish pontificating and just stick the darn throat culture thingamabob down my throat.

When he did, I of course was totally unprepared (the part where he said, "say AHHH" should have been a clue) and reflexively gagged.  I think I almost punched him as well but that may have been a hallucination.  The second time he stuck the swab thingy in my throat, he was successful and I was well on my way to what I was sure was a POSITIVE test result.  But before I could go and take my culture to the lab for "rapid processing", I needed to hear a few more minutes about what I could do at home to take care of myself when the results indubitably came back negative.

I listened kindly in return and then asked him to make sure that on that slip of paper where the results come back, that there was a note that I was allergic to penicillin and amoxicillin, two of the most popular antibiotics given for strep.  With a "haven't you been listening to anything I've been saying, you nincompoop" look and a polite smile, he acknowledged my request and sent me on my way to the lab.

After my "rapid processing" at the lab, the results person came out with my pretty pink piece of paper and stamped on it in 48 font was "POSITIVE".

The last time I saw a POSITIVE result so big, I was pregnant with Ryan!

It was off to the pharmacy to pick up my medicine that I would hopefully not be allergic to (Cephalexin) and then home to rest. I resisted the grade-school urge to go back to the nurse's station and say, "I told you so!!!!!!" but I did not resist the grade-school urge to think it!

Now a few days later, no longer contagious but still with a week's worth of medicine to go, I'm starting to feel better. I'm having a little rash and some side effects but nothing major. I'm still exhausted but that could easily be the anemia or a combination of the anemia and strep.  It could also be the fact we've had a couple hot days here in Washington after a very mild and cool summer.

I'm looking forward to a positive week but not one in 48 font that is strep-based!  Justin is heading to an adventure day camp and Ryan has his adventure day camp where he had Camp Kiddo last year so tomorrow during the day, I should be able to catch up on work again!

I did want to blog here because I almost always miss writing when I don't do it and I wanted to give a bit of an explanation why I had gone incognito again after my last post.

Thanks to all who commented so nicely on my last blog.  I responded to you separately in the comments section.  Thank you also to the special people who recently contacted me individually.  If I have not written back yet, I will quite soon!

Best wishes for a healthy and happy week ahead!


  1. Hi Karen,
    I found this post in my email yesterday and I hope your are feeling better! I noticed you mentioned a couple of things that stuck with me- namely anemia and allergies to some antibiotics. Before last autumn I have lived for nearly 35 years with long bouts with anemia and some weird allergies to antibiotics and strange reactions to other meds (amoxicillin and the entire NSAID category to be specific). As it turns out I have G6PD Deficiency, the most common genetic disorder in the world. Because I am female, so pasty white that I'm nearly translucent, and have a slew of other medical issues nobody ever though to test for it. Most doctors still believe that women don't get it and are only carriers- but in my reading I found that there are asymptomatic carriers and then there are women who can be more aptly described as partially deficient and exhibit symptoms only under specific triggers, while fully deficient is rarer than in males, it does happen (that's what I have. I only could have gotten it from my biological parents, meaning both of them are partially or fully deficient but I will never know...long story...). My rheumatologist was aware of the disorder and routinely screened patients (regardless of gender and race) when treating them with drugs that work for rheumatoid arthritis but were originally made as anti-malarials. Sure enough, I have it. I then had my son tested and both of us have it! (it's passed along on the x chromosome)....Anyway, if they haven't tested you for it you may want to read up on it (people who are tested can have false negatives if they are in the middle of or just had an event)....
    I couldn't find an email for you so I figured I'd post this here. If you'd like to delete this after you read it please go ahead. If you want to read more about G6PD here's a fantastic resource:

    Anyway, aside from that, thanks for writing all that you do on life as a woman with Asperger's. I wasn't diagnosed until 2009 and I'm thrilled to finally be "allowed" to be me. I am also parenting a son with Asperger's.

    Best wishes and you can email me at bek At thehappyaspie D0t c0m anytime.


  2. Hi Bek,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. I am feeling much better from the strep, thanks! I think I was more concerned about what side effects I might have with the antibiotics than the sore throat! Side effects and allergic reactions just stink!

    I sincerely appreciate you sharing your health history with me. I had never heard about G6PD before. Sounds like a robot cousin to C3PO from Star Wars!

    I went to the link you gave and started to read about G6PD. Thank you so much for the resource you provided. I have more blood tests soon and am going to mention this to my doctor to see if she will test for it at the same time. I totally would not be surprised!

    I appreciate also your kind comments about my blog. I will check yours out as well! Sounds like we definitely have a lot in common. I love the fact that you feel after your diagnosis that you are now "allowed" to be yourself. I totally get that! What freedom that brings. :-)

    I can be reached at Hopefully you'll get my response here too.

    Thanks so much again!

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