Fieldset
TB & Me: The picture becomes reality

Ulyosh is Scientific Secretary for an art gallery in Nukus, Uzbekistan. As Patient Ambassador for TB, she blogs about her journey with TB treatment, losing her friends and family, and not giving up.

Ulyosh is Scientific Secretary for an art gallery in Nukus, Uzbekistan. As Patient Ambassador for TB, she blogs about her journey with TB treatment, losing her friends and family, and not giving up. This piece also features hand-drawn illustrations by Ulyosh, depicting her personal experiences.

From the very beginning I told the disease: I will conquer you - you will not conquer me!

I was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in March 2008 - my first day of treatment  began on World TB day that year. 

I had not been feeling well for quite some time and thought it was just a cold - when the diagnosis came, the shock was overwhelming.

Luckily, the treatment process itself was not extremely difficult for me.

From the very beginning I told the disease: I will conquer you - you will not conquer me!

One of Ulyosh's illustrations.

 

The treatment is just a time in your life, it is not forever

TB is a physical condition, yet I realised that to overcome it a lot depends on your mental state. Positive thinking helped me the most to overcome the disease.

I was on treatment for two years. The first three and a half months were spent in the TB hospital, and the remainder on ambulatory care.

The biggest challenges I faced were the side effects: the treatment gave me shortness of breath, and I was provided with drugs and an oxygen machine to relax the symptoms.

On top of this, I was very weak and coughed for a long time; I had stomach pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting – a series of ups and downs. Sometimes it was easy - sometimes it was very hard.

One of Ulyosh's illustrations.

I started drawing the nurses, doctors and patients – it helped me to express my fears and lifted my mood.

I made it my routine to drink lots of water and, for a specific period of the treatment, I went for long walks. I read literature on how to think positively and reach your goals in life.

In hospital I enjoyed being in company of old men who always told jokes. I started drawing the nurses, doctors and patients – it helped me to express my fears and lifted my mood. But there were also times when I was too weak to draw.

The treatment is just a time in your life, it is not forever.

I’m a philosophical person – so on the positive side the treatment was a time for me to think about my life and change my views.

One of Ulyosh's illustrations.

 

During the period I found out who my real friends were.

My husband left me. My family was ashamed of me. Only my real friends stayed by my side.

I've decided not to hide this part of my life and speak openly -  maybe one day I'll write a book about it. 

All illustrations (c) Ulyosh.

 

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