A Patient Story
Deepti's was 16 when she first started feeling sick. She was appearing for her board exams and could not stop coughing. She remembers a feeling of confusion and panic. At first she thought its just normal viral cough.
Despite medication, her cough never really stopped. Her doctor advised me to get a chest x-ray. It took her more than a month to get diagnosed with TB. Her family could not believe it and had never imagine that she would have TB.
The medication continued but didn't help. After few months her doctor told her that part of her left lung has decayed and hence she required surgery. He told her parents that she had a more dangerous form of TB called Multi- Drug Resistant -TB. They were confused and had no clue as to what it meant! He also suggested that we take a second opinion from other experts. So they went to other few chest physicians, each of whom too recommended surgery.
While she was diagnosed with TB early, recognising it was MDR-TB took time. Since she wasn't getting well her doctor kept on changing medicines but never advised her to get drug susceptibility test. Most doctors don't suspect MDR TB and don't ask patients to get the test-a costly mistake.
Deepti was resolved to get the surgery since she wanted to get well. Unfortunately things became more complicated. During the surgery the surgeon found out that along with her upper lobe of lung ,little part of her lower lobe was also infected but he didn't remove it considering her age !
Post surgery in 2000, Deepti had to continue with the medicines and injections but her condition deteriorated. In complete exasperation she started surfing the net to find a doctor who could treat her. She found one in the UK who suggested a doctor based in Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.
Dr. Zarir Udwadia at Hinduja started her on treatment under him although her case had become critical. He told her that she would require another surgery but it was quite risky. They started finding a surgeon who could operate on her but most refused. Deepti finally found a surgeon in Mumbai who too felt that she had 1 percent chance and would most likely die on the operating table. However, she was out of the ICU the next day. How did that happen ? Perhaps, a miracle, the love of family, or she wanted to defeat medical science.
Surviving TB wasn't without challenges and doubts. Deepti took treatment for MDR-TB for six years in which she had to take about 400 injections and she had to undergo two major surgeries to get my affected lung removed.
Everyday she had to take upto 15-20 tablets. The medicines had severe side effects that made her suffer. Her vision and hearing got affected and she had nausea and joint pains all the time. She was coughing blood almost everyday.
The fight against TB did not come without regrets and discrimination. Deepti joined engineering but unfortunately she had to quit in the first year itself because her health deteriorated. As a result despite being a bright student, her academics and later her career became a casualty. If this disease had not affected her she would have done well professionally..
Yet Deepti considers herself fortunate that SHE had family and friends who were supportive and loving .Barring some people, everyone stood by her and never discriminated against her.
Deepti says "I genuinely believe that TB is India's a ticking time bomb and we must deal with it on a war - footing. There need to be proper testing facilities where each patient can be tested freely and accurately. Poor patients must be given free drugs, regular support and nutritional supplements as well. We need to support the TB patient - together we can defeat TB!"