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Ray of Light!

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I have met many patients in my life recover from affliction of TB. From initiating DOTS on scared homemakers to counseling alcoholics, my work demands patience and perseverance to handle different kinds of patients. Sometimes, it is quite hard for me to see them undergo a lot of pain before they are cured; especially if they are schoolgoing adolescents.

At 14, one might think Rita* is like any other teenager, however, the reality is that she has a big responsibility to take care of her visually challenged parents. For Rita, it is not a responsibility but a duty, which she fulfils as a daughter. From doing the household chores to running errands and studying, Rita hardly gets anytime for herself.

All was well, until she developed a swelling in the lymph node. After visiting a private hospital she was diagnosed with TB and was referred to CSI Kalyani Hospital. I was a bit miffed to see her in the hospital and after reading her reports it was clear that she had to be started on DOTS. For a minute, I was sad because she was just 14 and had to be on medicines for a minimum of six months!

Rita and her parents were frightened as they weren’t sure if tuberculosis was curable. For me, it was important to make them understand about DOTS. It took sometime before they could come to terms with the situation.

Constant encouragement and positive reinforcements have worked wonders as Rita’s health is improving. Now the swelling has reduced and Rita is more confident that in few more months she would be completely cured.

Rita is special and I will constantly be monitoring, counseling and supporting her the best way possible to complete the treatment.

* name changed to protect identity.

As narrated by Mr. Joseph, Zone Coordinator, REACH

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Hope…

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“Only if you give me medicines, I will swallow it” said Raja*, visibly shaken with tears flowing down his cheeks. I met him recently after a gap of six years to initiate DOTS again.

Back in 2009, Raja, a successful businessman was diagnosed with TB and completed his treatment by taking medicines regularly. He was at the PPM centre every alternate day and after six months of treatment he was cured of TB.

But, the following year he had a relapse. On probing, his wife told me that Raja was upset after their only son left the house. Unable to bear the separation he started drinking. His immune system weakened and his health deteriorated further. He visited a private doctor in 2010 and was again started on DOTS. He was irregular in taking medicines which worsened his health condition.

Raja decided to visit a pharmacy after he coughed out blood. The proprietor was aware of the symptoms of TB and immediately referred him to our PPM centre. I requested him to undergo tests and he was diagnosed with MDR-TB. Unwilling to accept, Raja argued and it took a while for me to make him understand and instill faith and confidence in him. I explained the whole DOTS-Plus regimen and started the treatment.

It has been three months now and Raja’s health has improved. Having found employment in Sugam Hospital( our PPM centre functions from the same premises) he visits me often and inquires about my well-being. He regularly gets his injection from his favourite nurse and on DOTS days he interacts with other TB patients. He shares his own life story and motivates them to take medicines regularly and consume nutritious food.

I think Raja is a lucky man. At 53, after undergoing a lot of pain he is recovering and I think he is a real fighter.

As narrated by Shanti, Zone Coordinator, REACH

*named changed to protect identity.

 

Moment of Joy!

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I was walking to the bus stop to visit a patient when I saw a familiar face. But, my mind could not recollect her name nor the place where I had seen or met her. She also looked at me and must have had the same thought, as she called out, “Madam, don’t you remember me? You took me to Stanley Hospital for a second opinion after being referred by Samipillai through a pharmacist in my area”.

I scanned my memory to identify the lady who had just spoken to me. After few seconds, I was able to recollect her name and the time when she had come to the DOTS centre. Kripa*  had come to the DOTS centre with pain and said “Give me some medicines so I can end my life peacefully, as I am not able to bear this abdomen pain”.

I consoled her and we went to Stanley Hospital, where Dr. Geetha referred her to the Gastroenterology department. I just accompanied her and told her to follow the advice of the doctors.

Now after 10 months, after seeing her again I was happy to hear that she had completed her treatment two months back. She was diagnosed with TB in abdomen and the doctors had referred her to the nearest DOTS centre.

“I thank you for your guidance. I thought of calling and informing you but somehow I forgot. I am so happy I could meet you here and have the opportunity to thank you”.

It is always nice to see a patient who has regained his/her health after undergoing a lot of pain. As I think about this incident, I feel that God orchestrates our every action and the people we meet in life. Even though we may come across them for few minutes, and our paths taking different directions; we still have the opportunity to turn around people’s lives for the better.

If it was not, for the pharmacist who took the time to really listen to his customer and took that important step towards guiding them to REACH, she would not be here today shopping for new clothes.

It was such a joyful moment for me, that day, knowing the difference that we can create in people’s lives.

As narrated by Deena, Zone Coordinator, PPM Initiative.

*name changed to protect identity. 

 

 

For the Patients…

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“I am learning something everyday” says Julie.

Julie joined REACH six weeks back and has been getting orientation in all our initiatives. She has been in the development sector for the past fifteen years; and says REACH’s magnitude of work has impressed her. Working in the field of tuberculosis for the first time, Julie was unaware of the seriousness of the disease that kills several people across India.

Recalling her interaction with a patient’s mother, she says, “It was so difficult to convince the patient’s mother that treatment for six months can cure TB. But, I spoke to her patiently and asked her not to worry. I was happy because I gave hope to someone and they agreed to believe me.”

For Julie, patients’ cure and happiness is important and says, she will be able to build confidence and maintain a good rapport with the patients and caregivers to ensure the treatment is completed.

“I am glad to be a part of REACH, as I can save and change someone’s life”.

We wish her all the very best!

A Beautiful Experience

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I had taken a visitor from the office to the DOTS centre to meet an MDR patient.

Mrs.Pusparathinam, a middle aged married woman, takes MDR treatment from the centre. “When the doctor told me I have TB, I was shocked. Even my worst enemy should not get MDR TB”. She said and I could see the pain in her eyes. I have been seeing her for many years at the DOTS centre. Initially she was on DOTS Cat-1 and 2 before she was diagnosed as an MDR patient.

There is something very beautiful about Puspha, whenever I meet her. Her simplicity and commitment to her responsibility is what impresses me. Even in her sickness, this woman does not have much time to think about herself.  She talks about how she has to prepare the afternoon meal, clothes that have to be washed and dried in the sun, vegetables that have to be cut, sweeping of the home, grinding of the batter, thinking about what to cook for the next meal- all an endless chores for a home maker.

The medicines have caused her many side effects like vomiting, giddiness, lack of appetite, joint pains and even her fingers were swollen. She has been on treatment for 13 months now and it will take another nine more months and three negative sputum cultures before she can be declared cured.

“The worst thing about this disease is that it does not allow you to work. Born in a rural place, my body was used to hard work even as a child. I was upset when I could not look after my home. This caused some friction at times with my husband and children as they never were understood, what I was going through”.

I saw her love and respect for our staff when she said , “Deena is my guardian angel. If it was not for her visiting me persistently and accompanying me to the hospital, encouraging me at every step, I would not have been living today. I was so difficult, not taking medicines; at one time I left home and stayed in a temple thinking of a spiritual path towards healing. But, Deena visited me at the temple and requested me to take my medicines for God to cure me. I cannot thank her enough for not giving up on me”.

The visitor and was quite impressed with her for sharing her personal story. A big wide smile and a warm handshake with Puspa made our day.

We wish her a speedy and a complete recovery.

By- Sheela Auguesteen, Program Manager, Public Private Mix, REACH