After spending a great amount of money to complete three cycles of treatment with my first private doctor for 18 long months, my auntie referred me to another doctor in hope that this new doctor could cure me from the disease. The doctor she referred to me was the same doctor that managed the TB of her daughter and mother-in law who had already recovered from the disease. Her clinic was 2 municipalities away from our place but nevertheless I went to her in hope that I would also be cured just like my cousin who was treated from TB.
I had my first check up with her. I brought a number of x-ray plates from my previous treatments and showed it to her. I also shared to her my medical history and my dilemma of having regular episodes of hemoptysis. Her immediate response to me was that I should undergo sputum examination because the x-ray might not be indicative of an active TB. It was the first time after a year and a half of battle with the disease that the sputum test was introduced to me as a diagnostic test for TB.
During that time though I was ill of TB, I didn't have cough just like other TB patients do. Because of this, it became impossible for me to submit a specimen for my sputum tests immediately after I was advised by my doctor. She then just resorted in giving me the usual first line TB drugs. Again, I undergo re-treatment and started my 4th cycle of treatment. She asked me to come back to her after two months of taking medicines.
I followed the doctor's prescription just like I did with my previous doctor but with no hope that I would be cured after finishing the cycle. I came back to her after 2 months bringing along with me my latest x-ray plate. According to my x-ray, there was almost no improvement that happened within the two months that I took those TB drugs. She requested me to undergo a CT scan procedure to rule out the possibility that the TB was already cured and what was being seen in the x-ray were merely TB scars left by the disease.
I underwent CT scan procedure at Delos Santos Memorial Hospital and came back to my doctor when I got the result of the test. I knew that the result would still be unfavorable for me because I still suffered from regular episodes of hemoptysis and where else could I attribute it but with TB. I held out the result to be read by my doctor. My instinct proved to be true. The result revealed that the TB was still active and that the main culprit of my hemotysis was the disease indeed.
My doctor believed that the sputum test was now the crucial test that has to be done to me in order for me to get the proper treatment I must have. And having known that I had problems on my sputum collection, she decided to refer me to her cousin who was a pulmonologist at Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), a government tertiary medical center for respiratory diseases. She believed there could be some interventions that could be done to me for me to be able to produce the specimen I needed for the sputum test. She also believed that LCP had the latest information and technology in treating the disease.
It was May of 2004 when I went at LCP and consulted to my 3rd doctor, nearly 3 years since I was diagnosed of the disease. I was very excited to learn about this diagnostic test which was very new to me. I was highly anticipating that this new intervention would lead me to the way of recovery from the disease. As new doors opened for me that revived my hopes of being cured, I never envisaged that despite the chances of getting the proper diagnosis this time, I would still be in the battlefield of TB long enough to take me 10 years in fighting this disease.