It is now exactly 30 days before it’s a year since I completed my TB treatment and was declared TB free. Well, it honestly feels great to have reached this far.
Having been diagnosed with TB in 2013 and taking my medication until the end makes me wonder why we still hear stories of people who died because they defaulted or because they refused to take treatment. It really saddens me hearing such stories as TB is curable.
I still remember when I was told that I had TB - of all the sicknesses I thought I might be having, TB was not even on my mind. I called my mother and told her that I had TB, all she said was "Oh well, TB is curable so you will be fine my child." I wish that families of people with TB gave them the kind of support that I got. Nobody wants to be sick and alone.
One thing I have realised is that my husband gets very worried whenever he sees me coughing. If I have flu and cough more than a week he starts asking me if I do not want to go see the doctor again and check if I am okay. Well, I cannot blame him - he saw me cough helplessly for a long time, he watched me lie in the hospital bed recovering from fatigue caused by coughing helplessly, he watched me go to the clinic to collect my pills, he went through every part of the treatment journey with me. I do not blame him and I am sure that it is one journey he does not want to take again and neither do I.
When I cough repeatedly I always say, once in my life I coughed helplessly and I do not want to ever cough like that ever again.
Last December I tried to donate blood. During the questionnaire they asked me if I have or have had any disease I want to mention. I told them I had TB. I was told that I cannot donate blood until after 2 years of completing the treatment. Well, I guess it is one of those things. Some things will pop up once in a while to remind you of the journey that you have travelled. It is just up to you to just say… well, OK I move on.
The attitude around TB needs to change. Society needs to understand that anybody can contract TB. It is not a black or poor people’s disease. If we change our attitude and approach TB with an open mind and understanding we will have less people avoiding treatment because they are scared of being stigmatised.
The South African government is doing all that it can to deal with TB however it is not up to government alone, it cannot do it alone. It is a joint effort. We can have all the treatment, the best in the world but for as long as people do not understand the nature of the disease and how it can be curbed we are fighting a losing battle.