My name is Major Chizanga and I am 39 years old. I stay in the Mudzivazvido area in Gokwe North district. Being diagnosed with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) was a double tragedy for me as I had to contend with the distressing medication all by myself.
My wife could not bear the two year period of pampering a grown up man like me going through a “rare” medication and she left with my three children. People in my area are used to short term TB treatment so the two year treatment phase is quite unusual. This had a devastating effect on me.
Drug resistant tuberculosis on its own is a stigmatized disease, and its treatment duration is even more frightening. I think this is the reason why my family deserted me. Unfortunately, this is the time when I needed them most.
Fortunately, my young brother and his two wives took me in. They are the ones who took me to Chireya Mission Hospital where finally, I was admitted in the DR-TB home at the hospital for the initial phase of medication. They are the only family that I have now.
But still, I am lonely. While the medication is painful, but at least it is helping in inducing some sleep because at times I lose sleep thinking about my children.
But again, this is the reason that is keeping me strong. I want to prove to my estranged wife that being diagnosed with DR-TB was and is not an end to life. I want to make sure that I will successfully complete my medication so that I can look after my children. My view of life has really changed.
I had never had TB before. So just imagine, being told that I had drug resistant TB. This frightened me and I had to gather all my strength to start the treatment. The problem was further compounded by the distance to the hospital as at times during the rainy season I could not cross the flooded river. So I was admitted at this DR-TB shelter at the hospital. I will be here till end of May when I complete the intensive phase.
Out of curiosity than concern, I have had some regular visits from some neighbors who want to check how I am now considering that when I left the village I was in a bad state. At one point in December there were rumours in the village that I had died. People are surprised that I have recovered so quickly.
The first days of this treatment were not that easy, but I still want to live hence I have to endure it so that I can enjoy the life. I have an unrelenting will to live and nothing will stop me, not even this dreaded disease.
This medication really saved me though it is painful. At times I have severe chest pain and the tablets which I take at night are very painful. But this shall come to pass. This treatment needs a lot of perseverance.
And my only plea to the drugs manufacturers is that can they please make this lifesaving drugs patient-friendly, at least one combined tablet a day will be better. But then this is just my wish, for now I have to endure the pill burden so that I can enjoy my much cherished life.