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Vaccines Work: How My Unvaccinated Roommate Died of Misdiagnosed Tuberculosis


Photo from John Keith / CC0

I am writing to you from the corner of my late roommate's funeral. Very sad. And would you like to know the saddest part about her death (I’m telling you either way)? It’s that her death was 100% preventable. 

Two weeks ago, my beautiful roommate, Werd Ecnarf woke up with a little cough and a raspy voice. We didn’t think much about it. How stupid of us. I told her it wasn’t a big deal and that its actually kind of cute in like Lindsay-Lohan-Lana-Del-Ray-Scarlett-Johansson way and that I read this one Refinery article about how people actually find it attractive because not a lot of women have raspy voices so it makes you different, you know?

Anyways, as the week went on her cough began to develop into a wheeze. After a few days she was breathing like really hard and couldn’t breathe through her nose so she kept breathing through her mouth and that’s like really nasty because her lips got all chapped and stuff. So I was like, “Werd, you should probably go see someone for that wheeze” and she was all secretive and stuff and REFUSED to let me take her to see someone at student health services which was like soooo weird right? So, a day later she looked like super pale and stuff, so me being the great roommate I am (I vacuumed our shared rug twice before she died), I took her temperature, and its like 100 degrees so I’m all like “Werd, I’m taking you to student health services” and her brain is probably cooking at this point so she’s like “Okay” and we uber there. The nurses were kinda rude since we “didn’t make an appointment” but they eventually fit her in. I couldn’t go in the room because of like HIPAA rules and stuff but basically, the doctor was like “I think you have the flu because of your symptoms and stuff” so he prescribes her Tamiflu or whatever. 

Werd takes the medicine and somehow gets worse? The Tamiflu causes nausea and vomiting and she gets super dehydrated and skinny. She starts to cough up blood and I get like crazy freaked out, so obviously, I save her the humiliation of having to wait outside for her uber and MERT her in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon. She gets to the ER and guess what? She has tuberculosis and was lying about her vaccination history this entire time. She dies because the bacteria like eats her lungs from the inside and causes lesions that make her lungs fill up with blood, which is like so sad. 

All of the signs were there, and I missed them. The health registration hold, the reluctance to seek medical attention, the blood in the tissues… I’m not really sure if there is a takeaway to this story since it’s kinda like “oh I’m sorry that happened” but I guess my advice would be to thoroughly check everyone’s vaccination history before hanging out with them because they could be unvaccinated and have some sort of disease we eradicated in the 20th century.