TB & Me: Abatgul's diary, part 3 - "When the drugs kick in"
A patient holds in her hand a sample of her daily dosage of medication to combat MDR-TB Photo: Donald Weber/VII
Abatgul is a journalist and a tuberculosis (TB) patient advocate. On her blog, she's sharing entries from the diary that she kept during her treatment for drug resistant TB. In this post, she writes about dealing with medication and the powerful side-effects
The first time when I was in hospital for two months and took three drugs a day, I kept on complaining that they were making me feel dizzy. On 11 March I was informed that I had drug-resistant TB and was sent to the TB 2 hospital. Three days later they explained to me how to take the drugs properly. I tried my best and swallowed the 15 pills in front of the nurse.
In order to live I needed to defeat the disease
After some time it seemed to me that there as an explosion in my abdomen. I felt terrible. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. Fear hung over me: how would I be able to take these drugs for two years? I often ran to the toilet feeling discomfort in my stomach. I said to myself: “Wow, so this is what it’s like when the drugs kick in and take effect.”
The next day I started taking my drugs one by one under the nurse’s supervision. What else could I do? I wanted to live. In order to live I needed to defeat the disease, to defeat the disease I needed patience, to have patience I needed strength and to get the strength one needs intelligence. I felt so happy to be alive. This is how I dealt with the disease every single day. My main goal was to beat it.
Fear hung over me: how would I be able to take these drugs for two years?
Soon I started vomiting regularly. Even if it was unpleasant I followed the treatment rules and asked for the drugs that I had thrown up, because I got scared of not getting cured. One day I just couldn’t eat lunch. The vomiting wouldn’t stop. I didn’t manage to put a single spoon of food into my mouth. Finally, full of anger and with my eyes closed I ate three to four spoons of meat. Surprisingly the pain and tension in my body eased. “Aha, the food is stronger than the drugs,” I thought.
I explored different ways of overcoming different challenges and continued fighting
After that, I explored different ways of overcoming different challenges and continued fighting. As the days passed, my condition got better. I started to believe more and more that life consists of battles, being alive is happiness and challenges are faced best with good hopes for the future.
During my long time in hospital I started writing a diary. My husband and the counsellors supported me very much. It’s important to deal with your feelings — the negative thoughts you might be having, I addressed them by talking to people about all my problems. Now that I’m cured I talk to the patients and their relatives. I share my experience and give my advice.