TB and me- A sad story

Day: August 27, 2013

Time: 6:40 PM

Place: Mangalore

I was surfing the net, facebook-ing, Messaging, Yahoo-mail; jumping from one tab to the other and suddenly my eyes froze on an article titled- ‘The end of the journey’. Finding it catchy, I decided to open the link and what I read was a very sad yet a true story. An African girl, confused and heart-broken on how she caught TB (Tuberculosis). In her own words- “It might have been on a bus since it’s always full in the morning. I used to take one every day to university, but then again I could have caught it anywhere.” She never coughed; neither did she have night-sweats. The only manifestation was loss of weight. Doctors said that might be Pneumonia. After sputum culture came negative, she was half-way happy that at least it’s not tuberculosis. But the chest x-ray showed something else. Shocked and confused at the same time, she was given hands-full of medicines to pop-in daily. The disease itself was so debilitating and those tiny medicines, equally unpalatable yet repetitive at the same time.

Normal CXR v/s TB CXR

As though the misery was not enough- that she got MDR-TB (Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis). For this she was given hell lots of pills almost 60 to take daily! Yes, this was her dose every day. She used to take 30 in the morning and same at night. On top of that there were injections torturing her bums daily. That pain made her sick enough to even stand or sit. Anemia and Vitamin B deficiency along with Tuberculosis; two more add-ons.

You might be thinking, why this story and that too here? Being a medicine student, I myself deal with at-least 1 patient of tuberculosis daily. I too might have a latent Mycobacterium waiting for its chance to show its monstrous part. I’m also scared. I feel bad for those patients who have to take medicines daily that obviously have side-effects of their own. The world Tuberculosis day is on 24th March and yes, my birthday too is on that day. Quite a co-incidence with a sarcasm laughing on my face, isn’t it?


WHO, DOTS and RNTCP recommend 2+4 months for active new patients, and even after that there’s no 100% guarantee for you being cured. Like this girl, you might be a MDR-TB patient or say even worse XDR-TB(Extreme drug resistant TB) patient, then your life would be floating in the pool of drugs. This society looks at you from those neglected eyes. Condition of yours becomes worse day by day. But don’t worry there is nothing like impossible. Even though these drugs are hard to digest but yet are wonder-pills to cure TB.

The take home message is- “Even though this disease can tear you apart, the drugs and your family’s support can bring you back on tracks of a healthy disease-free life.”

Read here for more details- http://www.tbcindia.nic.in/rntcp.html and http://www.who.int/publications/guidelines/tuberculosis/en/.

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