I answered the TB helpline to listen to this lady who for about 20 minutes spoke about her life spent as an MDR patient.

Is it my mistake to have got this terrible disease? In a way it was mine, but I was only all of 15 years growing up and studying in Std X where my focus was only on lessons, studies, exams, scores trying hard to make a path for myself. I never did concentrate much on my TB treatment and as I felt better, ignored the advice on my treatment.  I have been blamed everywhere at the health systems that it was my mistake and I am paying for that till today. What was I to do? I was only a child.

Stigma is there, present everywhere I go, but do you know where I notice it the most? At the hospitals, by the doctors and nurses, the people who have to provide me the care I need. Always referred to as the most difficult cases, I know even doctors are confused about my treatment. I hear them tell the nurses, Oh that case. Just send her away with some drugs. Their stern voices telling me “ Stand there” is what welcomes me to their presence.

I take so many drugs and feel so sick. No one can explain what causes the many complaints in my body. The injections, it’s so painful. The nurses tell me “Keep your mouth shut and do not behave as if it’s your first injection”. I cannot cry for my pain even.I feel humiliated for my condition every day. I cannot tell you how bad patients are made to feel in this world renowned sanatorium.

My lungs they always leave me breathless…cannot utter a few words or walk two steps before being out of breath. The nights I do not sleep as I have difficulty breathing.Each night I think is going to be my last, but I end up seeing the morning rays of light.

I would have died, if it’s not the love of my aged mother, who’s caressing hands I can always feel rubbing on my chest.  Her love makes me face my life. I am too tired weak for anything now. I know my pain is going to be only for a few days more.

I want you to tell, “MDR TB is a deadly disease and take care those of you who are on TB treatment, remember nothing else is important in life than taking those pills regularly. I wish someone had told me that, when I was fifteen.

I listened to this outpouring of grief and though I encouraged her, I felt that my words sounded empty and hollow.