When I was told that I had multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and that I had to come back to the clinic for medication, I refused to come at first because I did not want to take some more medication in addition to what I had already taken. I had already received 60 painful injections before to treat ordinary TB.
The community health workers spent about three weeks trying to convince me to come to the clinic. They would sometimes come to my house to try and persuade me to come to the clinic but I did not want to hear anything to do with that. Sometimes I would hide when I heard that they were looking for me. They persisted and, in the end, I decided to follow their advice and went to the clinic.
The nurses explained to me that I had developed MDR-TB and that the disease was infectious and that I was supposed to be confined for at least a week while taking medication. They also explained to me that this time, I was going to take medication for almost two years.
While other MDR-TB patients normally take injections for eight months, I took my injections for nine months because that is what the nurses recommended after some examinations. I did not suffer from many side effects while taking injections except for pain and numbness in my legs. At times I had difficulties in walking but since my job was to drive people from Epworth to town and back to Epworth, I continued with my work. Driving was manageable.
After the injections, I then started taking 17 tablets at once, daily, for months. Initially, I was taking my medication in the morning but I later requested to take my medication at night so that it would not affect my work.
The main challenge I encountered was loss of sleep. I could not sleep properly. While sleeping, I would feel as if the world was going round in circles and this caused a lot of sleepless nights.
Because of my busy work schedule, I would come to the clinic everyday for injections. I had explained about my work schedule to the nurses so every time I got to the clinic, I would not wait in queues because they would attend to me immediately.
On instances where I could not come to the clinic because of pain, I would simply phone the clinic and the MSF nurses would bring the medication to my home for me.
My family was very supportive. My wife gave me a lot of support. She encouraged me to take my medication correctly and consistently.
MSF was also very supportive. Apart from providing medication, MSF assisted me by putting big windows on my house and encouraged us to keep them open all the time. This was to allow fresh air in the house for ventilation purposes.
I would like to encourage everyone who is on medication to take their medication consistently. They should not default on treatment.
Two years of taking medication appears like it’s a long time, but compared to the life that is restored in you, the time is very short. MSF helped me to recover from my illness and to make it in life. I may not have been able to make it but now I can work and I am able to feed my family.
What kept me going is the fact that I told myself that I would not suffer because of medication. I told myself that I had to survive for the sake of my family.
I did not want people at work to know that I was on medication because I did not want them to despise me because of my condition.
I was supposed to finish my medication on 6 February but I ended up finishing on 26 February because the nurses felt I needed to continue taking my medication.
I feel happy that I have completed my MDR-TB course but I am still afraid that one day they might call me back to come and continue with the medication.