After 18 months of hard treatment for Multi Drug Resistant TB, I have finally come to a point where I feel like I can let my hair down a bit.

Tomorrow, I am scheduled to have my last dose of TB medications. This is a great celebration for me, because I have been on a strong combination of medications – which has been required over this long duration to ensure that the TB won’t come back.

I’ve been very strict on myself during the treatment process, and feel proud that I’ve reached the end without pushing any of the boundaries. I took every tablet that was put in front of me, and never missed a dose. I also did my best to take good care of my body and mind, by eating as healthily as possible, not drinking any alcohol, openly sharing my experience with friends and family, and finding new ways to stay positive and busy. There have been heaps of times when this has been hard, because the medications put you under hectic mental stress. I have sworn at family members, accused good friends of things they haven’t done, thought that the walls were caving in, and pretty much driven my brother crazy. But that’s okay – I’ve been lucky enough to learn that when people really love you, they’ll help you through anything, and if you’re open about what you’re going through, then it helps them understand where it comes from.

I know that millions of other people with TB are not as lucky as me to have access to the treatment that I received, or be in a position where their Government and family are as supportive as mine have been. So every day I am thankful for this.

I wish that every country was able to share the same medical privileges that are available to us here in Australia, and I wish that we didn’t need organisations like MSF, but we do. It doesn’t seem fair, that just because I live here on an island called Australia, I’m able to receive better attention than someone just like me who is born somewhere else, on another island, or another piece of land. Part of me feels a bit guilty that I have been so fortunate, but then another part of me feels that it should be a human right shared by all. The right to be given the chance to survive.

But that is one of the reasons that I support MSF. Because they help fill that gap, by bringing medical care and assistance to those who are in exactly the same situation as me, and are just as treatable as I am. It is only fair, that everyone is given the chance to survive.

If TB is treated early, strictly and effectively then it is affordable. But if the TB becomes MDR, or XDR then it costs about 100 x more per patient.

I have been playing with some numbers of what I have been through in the last 18 months, since I was originally diagnosed with TB, and for me, it’s pretty interesting to look at.

500,000 dollars in medical care
12,144 tablets
4,488 hours in isolation
382 visits to doctors and clinics
65 injections
15 X-rays
and now 3 blogs on my MSF profile!

BUT, if I hadn’t gone through all of this, then I wouldn’t have made the 30,000 new friends that I’ve made on Facebook along the way (facebook.com/fullysickrapper) or the 22,000 people that have Subscribed to The Fully Sick Rapper’s Youtube Channel (youtube.com/christiaanvanvuuren). Come and say hi there if you want to, I’m always up for a chat!

Also please feel free to ask me any questions here on the MSF Blog, it would be my pleasure to get back to you. Especially if you are going through your own medical difficulties, or are going through a hard time in your TB treatment. It is good to reach out and share your own situation with others who are going through it, or who have been through it too.

Cheers,
Christiaan

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Comments

14 Responses to One day left of medications!

  1. hi christian…congratulations on your completion of your long treatment…your words are really encouraging as i read them i can relate to every single bit of them..im on my 14th month of medication and im feelin much better now though im still waiting for my latest sputum culture and DST results,im jus hoping and praying that everything will bw allright,cos im really tired now,,im tired of the daily rituals of taking the medication ..anyway good luck for your future buddy n hope you appreciate your life without TB medications..

  2. Pingback: [Voice from the Field] TB & ME Blog

  3. Wow. Your story is amazing, and your attitude and outlook on life even more so. And to top it of your a total hottie. Mate the things you are doing for those suffering is truly inspiring, your humour alone will provide the necessary smiles to get other sufferers through their difficult times. You deserve the hard earned bill of clean health you are achieving. Good luck in your future, get out there and have some fun :)

  4. You have an amazing attitude. I cannot fully comprehend that much isolation, and don’t know if I would have been able to hang in there with all the strict precautions needed to assure the drugs would work successfully. Congratulations on being at the end of the treatment.

  5. I too went through 12+ months of treatment for TB – about 11 years ago, now. By the time I was finished, the smell of the four antibiotics I had to knock back every day made me gag. But really, that was the worst of my experience. I’m SO grateful for living in a country (Canada) where I didn’t have to worry about anything. From the moment where we discovered something was wrong (my “free” chiropractor actually suggested this…), through the testing, biopsies, hospitalization, treatment – I didn’t even have to think – let alone see a bill. Once it was actually diagnosed (I was asymptomatic so it was a surprise to all…), I was simply able to focus my energy on getting better. A huge gift that we here in developed nations with socialized medical simply take for granted. If only everyone suffering from such a condition/disease could experience this blessing. Congrats & best of luck, Christiaan!

    • Hi Jules… Firstly, thanks very much for sharing your own situation. It’s nice to read from someone that has also had positive outcomes from their treatment. I know exactly what you mean about hating the taste and smell of the medications. Some of them are so metallic, to the point where I often felt like they were slicing me on the way down, and in my guts. Because they smell and taste like they are made up of metal dust. It’s making me gag thinking about it. I’m glad that things have been fine for you since your treatment, 11 years is a long time, so it’s nice to read that there haven’t been any kickbacks. Also interesting the way you say that you were able to focus your energy on getting better. I think that the energy, positive energy, you can put into yourself during the healing process really helps with the outcomes. That’s one of the major difficulties with the treatment in developing nations – since the disease has such a negative stigma about it, and people are shunned for having it, it’s really hard to feel positive about yourself and the treatment process you’re going through, and so (besides the obvious nourishment and nutritional difficulties often faced in developing countries) a lot of people are immediately disadvantaged because their body can’t allocate the same positive energy into just getting better.

  6. Hi Christiaan,

    Good day!

    I just want to tell you how lucky you are on the medical privilege that you’ve been getting in your country, and also the support that you get from your family and friends. I don’t have TB, but I am documenting the TB epidemic here in my country, Philippines. You are actually right that in other countries there is inadequate support for this preventable and curable disease. Its just unfair that some are not lucky enough to get the privilege of getting a the chance to survive. I have seen a lot of people suffered and are suffering from this disease through out the course of my documentation. I am inspired to continue working on my documentary because I know that through this, I could make a difference. I wish you a TB free life from here on. God bless to you and your family. If you have time you can check the link below. This work in progress is about the TB Epidemic in the Philippines:
    http://iveraldas.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/airborne-a-struggle-to-survive-tuberculosis/

    Best,
    Iver Aldas

    • Hi Iver. Thanks very much for reading, commenting and contributing to this. Good day to you too! It sounds like you are doing a wonderful thing over there, and yes, making a difference. Because becoming involved in the treatment process of TB is doing exactly that, making a real differece, not just to the lives that you treat, but to the other 20 people who may have come in contact to that person in the peak of infection and been exposed to the disease. It is nice for you to reinforce how lucky I’ve been to receive the treatment that I have over the past 18 months. I understand this blessing fully, and I am very thankful for it. It’s the driving force for me to want to raise awareness of TB in nations that have the cash and resources to make a real difference and stop this disease in it’s tracks before it costs our world far more dire, destructive and expensive consequences in the future. God bless to you and your people, and thanks so much for giving your own time to help all the people that you are helping… Thanks for the link, I will have a read. Cheers,
      Christiaan

  7. Congratulations Christiaan! What a long road you’ve come down. Your sense of humour and the grace you’ve shown is truly inspirational. I hope you will continue as an advocate for TB patients, MDR-TB or otherwise. It’s time to move past the stigma and get on with the curing. Cheers!

    • Thanks Linette!!! It has been a long road, but it’s been an eye opening experience and I’ve learned more about myself as an adult in these last 18 months than I have in my entire life’s experience before it. Cheers!

  8. Christian,

    You are an inspiration. I am so glad to hear that you are finishing up your treatment. Your FB and YouTube creations have been wonderful to watch.
    I wish for you a TB-free life from here on, all the best to you and your family.

    Dana

    • Hi Dana. Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I am stoked to be finished with the treatment. What a long 18 months! But I have a Sydney Summer to look forward to just around the corner! :) Thanks heaps for the ongoing support, and the same goes out to you. All the best to your friends and family!

  9. It’s so awesome to hear that you’re finally getting to the end of your treatments. Once upon a time I had TB as well (though I was only 2) and it’s awesome to hear that other people can come through it too. At this point in my life the only reminder for me that I even had TB is a scar on my neck from a inflamed lymph node.

    Congrats! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your life as you continue to be awesome!

    • There are a lot of kids that are faced with the same drama from a very young age too… It’s very sad, but a lot of the kids in the third world and in developing nations aren’t as lucky as you were mate. I have heard some pretty horrible stories about young kids, and even new born babies that contract violent strains of TB. It’s nice to have a shared experience with you, even if I don’t remember it! Cheers for commenting and reading the Blog. Christiaan

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