TB first came into my life in June 2000 and kept coming back over the next 13 years, getting harder and harder for the doctors to treat it. I took many different kinds of pills and injections over the years but nothing seemed to get the disease out of my body for good.
It kept coming back, stronger than before. My health kept going up and down and it was really difficult. Finally I began treatment for DR-TB.
Before I started, I was able to carry out normal physical activities, but after I felt tired and exhausted. The side effects from the treatment were strong and it was really difficult to manage. I felt dizziness, pain in my buttocks from all the injections and had problems with my hearing. I felt nauseous when I smelt cooking, found myself easily getting angry, constantly weak and tired, always having diarrhea, and experiencing hallucinations. The most difficult medicine to take were the seed-shaped pills.
I was also really scared to take such a large amount of medicine every day for so long.
I was constantly coughing, experiencing high fevers in the evening, pain in my chest and buttocks, and feeling exhausted really easily. It was really difficult. At the beginning of the new treatment, I suffered pain from the daily injections. After taking the drugs I found myself feeling dizziness as well as joint pain. As time went by, the pain got worse in summer. Whenever the lymph node swelled up because of the injections, I did squatting exercises 10 to 20 times per day and I also did gentle stretching before taking a bath.
After getting medical treatment for five to six months, I became emotionally affected and began to lose confidence that I would survive. The main reason was because I was losing a lot of sleep at night time. I think not enough sleep also made me lose my appetite.
The side effects began to get worse at that time. Fortunately, I learned how to meditate from my father. When the six months of injections were finally over, the buttock pain went away but the rest of the pain did not reduce. I was always afraid to receive pills from nurses and doctors.
I tried to forget my emotional pain by realizing that there are other people who are more socially, economically disadvantaged and with worse health than I was. I often reminded myself that I needed to get back my good health in order to save my family from a miserable situation.
Ko Min Naing Oo is a 37-year-old Myanmar father living and working in Yangon, Myanmar. He was first diagnosed and began treatment for drug resistant TB in January 2011 after battling various forms of the disease since June 2000.
Ko Min Naing Oo completed the two-year DR-TB treatment process in January 2013 but chooses to continue to keep TB in his life by participating in peer support sessions with DR-TB patients currently on treatment and sharing his story in Myanmar and globally. This is his story.