Living hell

Mariam arrives at he drug resistant TB station feeling apprehensive about the long road of treatment ahead: the many drugs and injections. The side effects of the treatment is so severe she feels unable to stay the course.

So the train brought me to the drug resistant TB station and the route was to be continued for two long years.

Alarming thoughts began to swirl in my head. I started to think that the other patients were right when they were saying that TB is not fully curable.

How could I accept the fact that I couldn’t go back to my husband? That I couldn’t have a baby for many years? That I might have a lot of problems connected with my treatment?

Those were the kinds of thoughts in my head when I started my new period of treatment for MDR-TB.

Mariam taking treatmentI had to take a huge number of drugs, about 15-20 tablets, as well as injectables.

I had terrible nausea from the first days of the treatment, but the doctors had warned me that I might feel bad from the drugs.

A few more tablets were added on the following days to try to reduce the symptoms. I was taking a whole handful of drugs and trying to get used to it, but it was not difficult to guess that I was soon going to face another obstacle.

I had hardly started the treatment when I began feeling terribly bad. After taking the drugs I was vomiting, losing my appetite, couldn’t see or hear properly, had strange noises in my ears, felt a heaviness on my back, my heart was beating slowly and it was difficult for me to breathe.

After taking the drugs, these kinds of feelings started and lasted till evening. The doctors said I was feeling the “side-effects of the drugs” and I had to get used to them if I wanted to be cured.

After taking the drugs for two weeks and feeling like I was passing through hell, the only idea that occurred to me was to escape from the hospital. I was thinking that this kind of experience couldn’t possibly be ‘treatment’. I began to think I would lose my mind or would die.

The doctors tried to explain to me the seriousness of the situation and the reasons for my condition, but it didn’t make a difference to me. I didn’t want to take the drugs.

I even didn’t want to see them.

I lost my trust in the doctors and the treatment. I wanted to escape from the hospital. I could no longer stand seeing all the dying patients and their crying relatives. I couldn’t bear to hear the disappointed moans from the patients. I couldn’t take those drugs any longer and feel so close to death.

I decided I couldn’t continue any longer. I decided to refuse the MDR TB treatment and left the hospital.