Fieldset
TB&Me: "My children were diagnosed within a month of each other"

Motherhood always has its challenges but what happens when your children are diagnosed with a highly infectious disease? Zukhro shares her experience caring for her young son and daughter as they undergo treatment for tuberculosis at an MSF-supported hospital in Tajikistan. 

These two children have been treated for tuberculosis at the MSF-supported hospital in Machiton, Tajikistan

My daughter and son were diagnosed with TB within a month of each other. 

We moved out of our house and into Machiton hospital so that they could start treatment.

Initially, I didn’t know anything about the short-course treatment regimen option. Doctors explained this new option, compared to two years of treatment.

We were ready to try anything, we just wanted the children to be cured.

Treatment

In the beginning, it was difficult for me to manage my kids’ treatment. They would cry taking the drugs, and I even noticed my son became more aggressive.

2g3a0117_crop.jpg

Zukhro with her children at the MSF-supported hospital in Machiton
Zukhro with her children at the MSF-supported hospital in Machiton

I realised it was because of the environment – they were missing toys, the shade of big trees, fresh air and playgrounds.

There were times when they had dizziness and my son used to bite his fingers.

We were ready to try anything, we just wanted the children to be cured

Further down the line, I noticed that my daughter couldn’t hear me when I called her by name.

She had been receiving the injections but after this sign that it may be affecting her hearing, the doctors took the injection out of the regimen.

Discharge

After five months, we were discharged from the hospital and continued the final four months of treatment at home.

We live about 7km from the nearest health facility, so we agreed with the medics that I would collect drugs from the district TB centre every three days.

I was taught how to divide drugs into doses and give them to my children. It was hard to distract them and help them come out from low moods at home.

2g3a0169_crop.jpg

Dizziness and hearing loss were some of the side effects experienced by Zukhro's children as they underwent treatment for TB
Dizziness and hearing loss were some of the side effects experienced by Zukhro's children as they underwent treatment for TB

It would be great to think of better approaches to help mothers dealing with children’s treatment at home.

For example, I think more frequent home visits by a doctor and a counsellor might have helped.

At the same time, home is home. I could cook meals that the kids liked; they could play with other kids in the neighbourhood. 

A mother's hope

My children are healthy and doing well.

In general, their TB treatment went well with the support of medics.

Now, I want them to become doctors in the future. I can already see they have an interest in it.

When they play together, they imitate doctors and patients.

Since Zukhro shared this story, both children have successfully completed treatment