Fieldset
My "friend" TB

Mariam thought she'd be cured of TB in a matter of months, then it transpired that she had drug resistent TB.  Now, after having already been through over a year of treatment and overcoming many physical and mental obstacles, she would like to share my experience with patients who are new to TB.

If I knew everything I do now about TB when I first learned I had the disease, life would certainly have been easier back then.

During the first days of my treatment, I had a unique feeling that I could maybe even describe as being ‘strange’.

I was calm, not afraid and I even liked the inpatient treatment I was receiving. At the time, I felt sure that after two months of treatment, morning exercises and eating healthy food, I would overcome TB.

But then I found out I had the drug-resistant variety of the disease.

I didn’t know very much about DR-TB then, especially the fact that it would be with me for a much longer period of time than I thought. I also didn’t know it would disappoint me, change my vision, disturb my peace of mind, and seriously deteriorate the quality of my life.

To be honest, for me, the period when I felt the most improvement was the very first two months at the beginning of my treatment. I believed that I was going to be cured in a short time and was optimistic about my results.

I am sure that those positive feelings were primarily due to my self-belief and peace of mind.

Since then, I have not been so clever and I lost my inner resolve at times, which brought me to a difficult ‘deadlock’ situation.

When I was diagnosed with DR TB, I had to start a new treatment that would take much longer and involve more drugs. After being in treatment for two weeks, I started to feel the side effects of the drugs. I got depressed and lost my positivity. My whole situation caused fear to take a hold of me - fear of the drugs and fear of the disease.

Now, after having already been through over a year of treatment and overcoming many physical and mental obstacles, I would like to share my experience with patients who are new to TB and not used to overcoming difficulties related to the treatment. I would also like to speak to people who are healthy and remind them that they need to take more responsibility for their own health and the health of those around them.

When somebody finds out they have TB, the issue is more than just about them taking responsibility for not spreading the disease – it’s about everyone’s attitude to TB and those suffering from it.

I strongly believe the way TB patients are treated by the community has a direct impact on the healing process. People’s care and understanding can be really important on the road to recovery.

I promise to tell a lot of stories about ‘my friend’ TB and my path to learning to live with this uninvited ‘guest’.

It’s been a long process of learning to accept the truth, overcoming difficulties, struggling to maintain resolve and will-power, and looking towards a future life without the disease.

For me, I have come to learn that it’s more useful to not think in terms of fighting or ‘expelling’ TB from my life.

While I look forward to when I can finally say goodbye to TB, only ‘my friend’ can decide when it’s willing to give me back my health.