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I chose life

This is my last month on multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) treatment, having started taking these drugs on 13 July 2012, I can vividly remember that day as if it was yesterday. It was a turning point in my life.

This is my last month on multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) treatment, having started taking these drugs on 13 July 2012, I can vividly remember that day as if it was yesterday. It was a turning point in my life.

Time really flies. Looking back now, I never thought I would come this far. However, I missed submitting my sputum on some occasions hence the delay in my completion of DR TB treatment.

I was supposed to go back to school this year, but time has really changed. It has even changed my perception on life. I have grown up and I shudder on the thought of going back to the class. I had to stop going to school as the time for my daily medication clashed with the school timetable. Also, I could not cope with going into class with a face mask as this could have led to more stigmatization as this condition is dreaded in my community due to lack of information.

Dropping out of school was not easy for me. I was faced with a very difficult option. It’s not easy being made to choose between dropping out of school and treatment for a life threatening condition. To me it was like choosing either education or life as this medication ushered a new lease in my life. I chose life because it is precious, you live it only once. It was useless for me to stop my DR TB medication simply because I wanted to attend school as I would have later died after a few months or years due to MDR TB complications. Worse still, by then I would have acquired just little education. So it was a tough decision and I believe I made the right decision because here I am, ready to start school again but after securing my life through DR TB medicating. It was not easy though.

Gibson Chijaka in Epworth polyclinic, on the outskirts of Harare.

Most of my peers are now in secondary school and I cannot catch up with them. I have to join the primary class. This is where my major concern is. I would be too old for that class. Most of them will be at least 4 years younger than me. I will feel awkward as I will be the oldest. I will seriously give it a thought before I decide. Also, I have to be honest; I had become so much used to life at home. Waking up in the morning basking in the sun, get my morning tablets, visit one or two  friends and then going to the nearby shops to watch some movies. This had become a routine and I was used to it.

But I still have a dream. I want to be a big lawyer in the United States and send my ever-loving grandmother lots of money so that she can pamper herself. So I have to go back to school, no matter what.

The nurses told me that I will be finishing my treatment this month as I am responding well to the treatment. I really cannot wait for that day when I will be certified cured of this MDR TB. It has taken away more than two years of my youthful life. I had to stop going to school while friends and family members deserted me. I could not even play with my mates at times. I had to bear with the brunt of this stigmatized disease and had to adjust my lifestyle. This all happened during my teen years and it was painful seeing my peers enjoying teenage hood. I didn’t have the opportunity to and no matter what, I will not be able to make it up for the stolen years. MDR TB stole my teen years.

All I can do now is just to live the best out of my life and I really look forward to the last day I will take my MDR TB medication. The treatment was difficult especially during the initial phase and the drugs were just too many. So after going through such a grueling phase, I think I will be cured. I want to be an example to my community that MDR TB can be cured. Already they have seen the marked improvement in my health. From a frail teenager who was persistently coughing to a grown up man I am today. People had lost hope on me but here I am, ready to face the same world with much vigor.