In December 2009 I was diagnosed with TB. The Doctors suggested that it was likely that I picked it up when I was travelling in South Africa, or perhaps South America.
After spending six weeks being treated on the standard drugs, I was released to go home again, but two weeks later some Sensitivity test results came back to show that the drugs weren’t effective against the TB organisms that I was carrying, and so I was re-diagnosed with MDR-TB. Subsequently I was re-admitted to hospital, where I spent nearly seven months living in isolation receiving treatment. It was a long 187 days, that I will not forget, but that changed my life in ways that I would have never imagined.
187 days is a long time for self reflection, and during that silence, I was able to work out a lot of things about myself. Where I wanted to be, who I wanted to surround myself with, what was really important to me in life, and what it would mean to me if I was to die. I feel somewhat blessed to have had this time to work myself out as an adult, and to have been able to step back and re-assess my life. There were a lot of sleepless nights, and I went through a lot of personal discomfort as a result of the time in quarantine, but I worked out that I wanted it to be a positive learning experience for myself, instead of a jail sentence.
During my time in hospital, my drugs were making me feel funny, and I did not want to sit around bored, or waste the time that I had, so I began to play around on my computer and learn how to use some of the software that it came with. Next thing I knew, I was called “The Fully Sick Rapper” and I was making rap songs that were being viewed around the world on Youtube, doing my best to spread awareness of the dangers of TB – more specifically, the MDR variety.
In one month’s time, I will have completed my 18 months of treatment, that has been a long, arduous slog, with many ups and downs. Throughout the course of my treatment, I have been exposed to Streptomycin, Isoniazide, Ethambutol, Rifampicin, Amikacin, Pyrazinamide, Clofazimine, Cycloserine and Moxifloxacin, all at high levels. I have also had to take some other tablets to help manage the side effects that I’ve experienced along the way – which have included damage to my hearing, stomach problems, a change in the types of foods that my body can handle, aches and pains, and some mental challenges – paranoia, anxiety, and feelings of depression and uselessness.
I understand the importance of my treatment, and the importance of completing all of the antibiotics that I have been prescribed. I feel very fortunate to have received the treatment that I have been so lucky to receive, and to have had access to the medical professionals that have helped with my treatment. I feel very fortunate that the Australian Medical System has seen to it that my treatment can be completed… However, I very much look forward to the day that I’m no longer required to take these drugs, and poison my body with these chemicals. It will nice to be able to know that my body is once again able to take care of itself.
Since I got out of hospital, I have continued work to help raise awareness of MDR-TB, and other illnesses, and have been involved in helping to promote messages of sanitary practices, good health and well being. My brother Connor and I have been working on a pilot, making our own TV show that will be aired on MTV Australia, and working together to make videos, continue writing stories and songs, which we keep on my youtube channel, at www.fullysickrapper.com
You can become a part of my silly existence on Facebook, by hitting the “like” button at facebook.com/fullysickrapper or searching for “The Fully Sick Rapper”. If you want to follow me on Twitter, then my username is @fullysickrapper Thanks for reading, and I hope that wherever you are, you are receiving the best care and treatment possible for the circumstances that you are under.