Sunday, January 15, 2023


       I was talking to my son in law this morning and the subject of tuberculosis came up. 

      Today we hear very little about TB but not so long ago it took many lives. There were no medications for treating the disease itself. The main treatment was to put patients in a special hospital where they were required to rest. I saw a photo of 12 patients in their beds and someone reading to them. TB spread easily in poor conditions as in housing and cleanliness. 

     When I was a child they decided that to identify people with TB and put them in hospitals would prevent the spread of TB.

    Where I lived they had a regime of X-raying people every year. I remember the big gray trucks. We were all lined up and called in order to have our x-rays done. Because of the x-ray technology of the time, we had to take off our tops. It was a day with some stress as each year they found several people with TB and they were immediately put in the hospital. There was no not getting the x-ray because it was dangerous. All people had the x-ray. Some difference from today. But today we still have covid.  

    Later other tests were used to detect TB and medications found to treat TB.

    When I was in the Arctic in the 60's TB was all too common. It's surprising that I didn't get TB. Aboriginals were sent south to stay in hospitals sometimes for years. On the coasts an icebreaker came in each year and the people were taken to the ship and x-rayed. It was an exciting time to visit the ship but they sadly always found people with TB. 

    One Inuk I knew, from Baffin Island, had TB as a young person. When he was in the south he got in some school time and they also trained him to be an x-ray technician. 

    He was assigned to work in an area with Cree people. There was a Cree interpreter who gave instructions . 1. Take a deep Breath, 2 Hold it. 3. Don't move. Elijah , the Inuk technician, got the idea that it would run more smoothly if he could give those instructions . He asked if they would tell him what to say. They told him what to say. He gave the instructions. However, when the women left the x-ray they gave Elijah a funny look. Elijah soon realized he had been had. They had told him correctly for steps one and two , but they changed one word in step three so Elijah was saying "Don't fart" instead of "don't move." 

    We are all fortunate these days that there is very little TB except in underdeveloped countries.

   Since I am elderly , I think many of you would have missed this experience.