Not so easy

After having received treatment for regular TB, Mariam was to be discharged from the hospital and start the continuation phase of the treatment. Then after further tests and operations to remove liquid from her lungs, she is diagnosed with drug resistant TB.

After having received treatment for regular TB, I was to be discharged from the hospital and start the continuation phase of the treatment. And as soon as I began the next phase, I realized that things were not going to be as easy as I thought.

Despite my optimism, a lot of obstacles stood in the way of getting rid of TB once and for all.

Quite unexpectedly I started to have a fever, severe muscular pains and was unable to even raise my hands. I had the feeling that something was moving inside me and making strange noises that I could hear.

After being examined again, the doctors found out that I had liquid accumulation in my lungs, and. so-called ‘pleurisy’ was added to my list of health problems.

The doctors tried to ‘dry out’ the liquid using drugs, but it did not work. In the end it was decided that a surgical intervention, or ‘puncture’, was required.

I remember how terrified I was. The doctors started their work after a local anesthetic, but I was so psychologically tense that I fainted.

One litre of liquid was removed from my lungs, but there was still one litre to go so I had to have the same experience a second time. I was very surprised and scared, as I had seen the quantity of the removed liquid with my own eyes and was astonished.

A few days later the doctors removed the remaining 700ml of liquid but I was not discharged from the hospital because I needed to recover. The doctors also wanted to run some tests to find out why the cause of the pleurisy.

Finally, the doctor summoned me to tell me the results. What I heard was quite unexpected and I was completely shocked…

He told me I had drug-resistant TB (DRTB). Specifically, I was resistant to three TB drugs: Isoniazid, Rifampicin and Streptomycin.

I left the doctor’s room and went to the ward. I was crying and laughing at the same time. The other TB patients started asking me what had happened to me? When I told them the results of the examinations nobody believed me. They all thought I was joking or I was just trying to get a reaction.

The strangest thing was that all the TB patients, including me, were frightened of people who are diagnosed with DRTB. We tried to be cautious with them because we thought DRTB patients could not be cured.

Now I was in the same boat, although not long after, the majority of the TB patients that were being treated with me were also diagnosed with DRTB.

However, we soon all adapted to the situation and even could make a few jokes about our situation to make each other happy.