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