My name is Sonwabile Ntlantsane. I am a 19 year old boy from KHAYELITSHA in Cape Town. During the time of diagnosis I was studying at a college doing Information Technology National Certificate Vocational (NCV) level 4. Everything was going fine having passed clean all of these years at college and having won 2 college certificates for subject distinction awards and having applied on 3 universities to carry on studying Information Technology.
Then towards the end of the year during final exam I started feeling chest pains, coughing, sweating at night and started forgetting a lot of things then after writing the paper before last I decided to go and visit the nearest clinic in my community where they screened me for TB then told me to come and fetch the results the following week. Then came Monday morning feeling better, chest pains not there I felt a lot better my mind telling me “Don’t go to the clinic for the results you’re not sick”.
Then my parents forced me to go to the clinic for the results but I kept on insisting that I’m feeling much better but my mother accompanied me to the clinic. That’s when they told me I have MDR (Multiple Drug Resistant) TB. Having never had TB before I didn’t know what they were talking about but when they explained in details that’s when my stress levels increased because they told me that they are going to take me out of college, while my last paper was going to be written the same week but my campus head made arrangements for me to write the final paper, daily injections for six months, 21 pills everyday for two years or longer.
I felt very sad and angry because I was not going to write my last paper which means that the year 2012 at college was a waste and I won’t even be allowed to go to university the next year till my sputum culture has converted from Positive to Negative for at least 4 months. I ended up not going to school in the year 2013.
I got a lot of support from my family and some members of the community with some having little or limited information about the disease which was bad for me because there was some kind of criticism against me. When I was about 2 months onto treatment I gained a lot of weight which some of the community members started doubting me if I was sick or faking it. Then they started teasing me in a good way we made jokes then I built a relationship with them because they told me that I’ve set an example for their children and adults who some of them are on normal TB and defaulting.
Taking the treatment at start was very difficult because of the side effects that come with the pills, after taking the pills I couldn’t do anything at home I just felt so tired, dizzy and wanted to vomit all the time. The side effects carried on for about 2 months then I started feeling better. I got used to the medication but there was the injection on the other side which I didn’t feel any side effects but it was so sore especially when it’s cold outside and the bumps that you get on your back because of the injection.
Now having been discharged from the injection and taking the 21 pills only per day it’s better now but the side effects are still there, although at times after taking the pills you do not even feel that you have taken the medication.
TB has affected my life in a positive and negative way. The positive way is that I’ve learnt a lot of things about a lot of diseases and how they relate to each other and I’ve learnt how to take care of my self and my body when it comes to food, eating healthy, living a healthy lifestyle, being a helping hand in my community and being a motivation in my fellow patients. The negative way is when I had to quit school and sit at home doing nothing which did not fit my personality as I like being active in life.
To all the TB patients out there I say “Go on take your medication because you are worth living a TB FREE LIFE”