With the education I have gained after being diagnosed with TB, I now understand why my friends and some members of my family deserted me when I was first diagnosed with TB… It was because they lacked awareness.
My wife took my children with her and they left me at our home… alone after she had learnt that I had TB. My wife’s mother had encouraged her daughter (my wife) to move back home with her and not be tied to a man with a worsening illness.
A few months after this incident a group of community health workers went to my mother in laws’ church to educate them about TB and how it can be cured. The educators apparently emphasized (amongst other things) the need for family support and good nutrition when one is taking TB medication. They taught them that TB can be prevented and cured.
My mother in law brought my wife back to our home and asked for my forgiveness. She explained that she had not understood this “TB” and how the disease could be managed. My wife returned home to me and has been very supportive .She prepares good nutritional food for me and we have continued to have a loving marriage.
When my wife returned home with the children I will be honest and say that I was scared that I could infect the children. So I made sure I wore my mask every time I was around my family at home and the windows inside the house were always open to allow fresh air in. Our house at the time was very small, but I made the children sleep in the kitchen to reduce the chances of infecting them. The younger ones had a harder time understanding this but I explained to them that their father was not well and that he did not want to make them sick.
This situation in my life taught me that family and societal support is necessary in the success of treatment. The community exists to support the individual. There is a need for community awareness and education to reduce stigma.
My wife wanted to protect herself and the children and she cannot be blamed for that because she did not know any better. She understands now how TB can be spread, prevented and most importantly that it can be cured. She has been empowered with this information and shares it with others in the community as well.
When my wife and children came back I worked very hard to make ends meet. I took my medication everyday and my wife worked tirelessly in the field as I was too tired a lot of the time. I sold my cattle and goats to get money to survive.
I am an orphan, so I did not inherit a piece of land or livestock from my parents. I never knew my family, so I have worked hard for all that I have today. I received a lot of assistance from the District and from those who live in my vicinity. Without them, I don’t know where we would be right now. It is important to have a helpful supportive community urging you on towards the completion of your treatment.
I hope that one day I will have a car to take my family around. I live in the rural areas where transport is a problem and I would like to have a car to make it easier to take my family into the city. I would like to live a happy life where I can provide for my children generously. The fact that I am on TB treatment does not discourage me. If anything, this treatment is making me stronger.
I will run until I finish the race.