Fieldset
10th month of treatment

White Orchid shares her experiences as she comes to the end of the intensive phase of her treatment for tuberculosis...

After the intensive phase, that’s what they call the first phase of treatment, finished, and the medicine was cancelled, its impact started to weaken: the pain eased allowing me to sleep at night. Every day I could not believe that there would be no injections. For several more months I’ll be afraid of entering the procedure room to have my blood taken for biochemical analysis. Hepatoprotectors they gave me in hospital didn't help. I didn't want to wait until my liver expires.
 
I decided to write to state institutions. But I was not strong enough for searching and drafting letters to all the institutions I could apply for assistance. So I chose the Presidential Administration. I could spend just 5-7 minutes at the computer. Then I would start to be short of breath and my heart was beating so strong, that seemed likely to jump out to my pillow. That was all I could bear. I missed some days because after a trip for my medicines to the day hospital I sometimes could not get up. Should I write just about myself or about the problem all patients experience? Financial support for the maximum number of people stuck in a difficult situation, that’s what needs to be done undoubtedly. It took me a couple of weeks to prepare a letter. I sent it. There on the other end of the Web, when they responded to me they didn’t assume that I was in a poor physical and financial situation myself. I’ve got a reply that my message had been forwarded to the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. Then I got a reply from there that my application had been "referred for consideration to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Finance with the request to inform you about the results." The answers:
Ministry of Finance: …"We believe that in this case the question of protection of rights of citizens undergoing TB treatment by the 4th category and their employment guarantees should be settled through the mechanisms of social protection of population. In our judgement one of the possible solutions for this issue could be a legal prohibition of dismissing employees undergoing TB treatment by the 4th category and changing approach to issuing medical certificates of unfitness for work for such employees. This question should be considered comprehensively by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection together with the Ministry of Health".
Ministry of Labour and Social Protection: … "In case an employee considers themselves to be subject to discrimination in employment relationship they are entitled to appeal to court"…
My application was not referred to the Ministry of Health as it was "a request to note and to follow up on some aspects of social insecurity of citizens of the Republic of Belarus with undergoing TB treatment by the 4th category, considering possibilities of employment for such patients".
The key phrase was: "In accordance with article 20 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus the response to your application can be appealed in judicial order." Three weeks of hard work went down the drain! With no money, no health as you understand there was nothing to be done.
 
I had to buy medicines for the side-effects here and now, I had to pay for using the apartment. And I wanted something to joy up, a cake or a chocolate glazed sweet curd snack. I applied for assistance to the Medical Disability Expert Committee. There is a third disability category, which means that you are able to work. You can be paid 120-140 Belarusian rubles per month (about 70 US-dollars) if you get this category. After more than 9 months in the state I’ve described, without any livelihood, I did not qualify for it. Their verdict was short: "You don’t qualify for a disability category". In 3 months I found out that it was not a real Disability Committee. It was a kind of a pre-Disability Committee consultation, where decisions are taken by the same people. But you can’t get any certificate after this consultation.
 
After that failure I decided to apply for social welfare. I was told by phone that it was necessary to be registered at the Labour Exchange for at least 3 months before submitting the documents. I called the Labour Exchange. They told me to come. I came. I explained them that I could not work, and there was nowhere I could get money from. That I needed to stay registered with them just for 3 months. They told me that it was possible to get the unemployment benefits, about 20 Belarusian rubles (about 10 US-dollars) per month. At least something! But it was necessary to look for a job and visit employers. Although they sympathized with me they had to report to the authorities. Besides I had to work at the Zoo or the Botanical garden for two days per month. For 8 hours!!!!? "....!....!........, - I burst into tears. - ....I’m not strong enough to lift a kettle!" I found no law that could protect me. I was squeezed like a lemon. The battle was lost.
 
Alternatively, I could either return to the hospital or go to the so-called sanatorium Sosnovka in the Vitebsk region. It’s the Republican tuberculosis hospital in fact. Believe me, if you are not contagious, try to avoid hospitals. Everyone knows about the relapses, but no one knows how they happen and what causes them. There are no stats. A few of my fellow patients have been to Sosnovka. If anyone is considering the opportunity of going there, here are the reviews: a canteen is situated in the another building, the food is the same, the air is fresher.
 
The money I borrowed to buy the medicines to protect the liver, I lost it. Don't remember where I put it. Or maybe someone pulled it on my way. My body was hurting. I sat down near the pharmacy and started to cry with tears: I didn't have any more strength to fight for survival. And then ...