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Possible exposure at work?
May 24, 2003

I work in a home for people with learning disabilities, mental illness & challenging behaviour during my university holidays. Last June 2002 I was involved in an incident, which has left me extremely anxious and worried. I was about to shave one of the residents - a 40 yr old male, when he grabbed the razor & started to do it himself, which resulted in him cutting himself. He dipped the razor in the water, but i can't remember if he did this before he caught the palm of my hand with it. I didn't notice him 'cut' my hand, until about half an hour later. The cut was very minor, and did not result in any bleeding or blood. I soon forgot about this incident as I considered this person 'no risk', although something later triggered off this tremendous anxiety I have developed. I saw a doctor about this & was reassurred that I had not been put at risk as the person in question was not a risk. The anxieties became so bad that I was put on anti-depressants to reduce the obsessiveness about this, which helped for about 6 mths. I am now 12 weeks pregnant and have therefore stopped taking my tablets & the obsessive fear has returned. I looked at the medical notes of the person in question, which stated that regular blood tests he has to monitor his medication showed severe blood pressure problems and high cholesterol. In 1997 it was reported that his 'red blood cells were breaking down', & he would require another test, although nothing further seems have occurred from this - is this likely to be something serious or to do with the high blood pressure? There was also a mention of liver enzymes - but they were reported to be consistent with the amount of medication he is on. The person in question is a large, strong, well-built man with a large stomache & legs. He drinks obsessively & sweats a lot all of the time (is this something to worry about?) He seems very healthy apart from his occassional mental health problems. He was removed from his home when he was 18, & placed in a psychiatric hospital, he then lived in a couple of other places before the home he is now, in which he has lived for 8 yrs. I know the risk for hepititis is far greater, but I was vaccinated against Hep B the March previous to this incident. I am currently awaiting test results, but desperately need some reassurance.

Response from Ms. Breuer

More than reassurance, you need a blood test for HIV to be able to put this terrible fear to rest. This is the perfect time for a test--pregnancy. And it's a time when any fears about your own health are likely to be intensified because of the pregnancy. Please do not continue to torture yourself over this incident when a simple blood test can give you the reassurance you need. No amount of "talk" can tell you what that lab result can tell you. Go now!



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