Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | December 29, 2015

“Do I Have Tuberculosis?”

This is why I love my patients.

Actual email exchange with an actual patient:

SUBJECT: Do I have Tuberculosis?

I had a cold like a week ago and I am better now but I still have a cough that wakes me during the night and produces gross phlegm in the morning. But it is mostly just snot by late morning. It sounds like Keats’ description of his tubercular cough except he thought it was blood instead of phlegm because in the 19th century he probably did not know the difference. Do I need to come in to see you?

My response:

>RE: Do I have tuberculosis?
>>Do I need to come in to see you?
Only if the cough lasts more than 3 weeks, or you start coughing up blood, or if you want to.


I suspected that was the case when I failed to write a single poem nor turn pale and thin with that late Romantic wasting away quality and did I mention thin. Sigh. Days of only soup while I was sick and no weight lost.

Are sonnets the equivalent of a tumor marker for TB? Does this mean we can scrap the PPD and all those newer, more expensive proprietary TB tests, and just monitor our patients’ poetic output along with weight and degree of pallor?




  1. Definitely a patient worth keeping healthy and around for a long time!

  2. Hope insurance doesn’t find out about this, they’ll just make everybody write instead of covering tb tests

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