My Tuberculosis Diagnosis

It is believed that the correct and timely diagnosis of a disease can cure half of the disease or infection itself. Before suffering from tuberculosis I never paid heed to such stories emphasizing on the importance of timely diagnosis or the complications of a delayed one.


Before the hospital visit. Drained to the core

However, now when I remember the days when I was uncertain about my health condition and despite of every precaution I could see things getting worst and worst. There was nothing that I could do and that helplessness slowly encapsulated all my life affairs, stages and soon transformed into self-doubt. I could see myself as a person slowly reducing both physically as well as emotionally and it became harder everyday to push myself for simple household chores. Self-shame and blame kept constantly increasing on my part because I could see myself not accomplishing anything; not able to do simple household chores, lethargic every time, emotional instability, feeling irritated, scattered on each and everything and every person, doing and saying things that were never meant to be said and done and unable to proceed with any job.
Numerous hospital visits were made by me previously but all of them concluded just a pollen allergy that had effected my vocal cords. It still amuses me to think that no physician or specialist could think beyond that. That fine day my family planned to pay a visit to the physician and inquire in detail about my problem. I considered it an ordinary day and expected returning home with the same allergy medications- Fexofenadine HCl and Montelukast Sodium along with a few nasal pumps. I previously had all blood test clear except that Hb was moderately low. Moreover, the serum analysis page showed increased IgE which further confirmed the allergy diagnosis.
I had protruded bones and my weight drop had been to a dangerous extent, I could not walk for more than five minutes and using stairs was a struggle in itself. I went to the ENT first and he performed an emergency Laryngoscopy, clearly narrating that I have ulcerated vocal cords which are causing such problems with my speech. However, when asked what could be the reason for such ulceration, he could not give a satisfactory explanation. And little did i knew that this is just a premature diagnosis.


Vocal cord section showing white ulcerated nodes and protrusions

An operation was advised and right there I thought to myself that well its never gonna end. As my mother kept negotiating with the ENT specialist initiating another round of blame game;

Mariyaah doesn’t eat
Mariyaah doesn’t sleep
She does not participate in any house help
She doesn’t like talking to anyone
Does she look like other people of her age? No she doesn’t

Little did she knew (or even I knew) that all these things were beyond my capability. The Mycobacterium that was feeding inside me had decided to take its toll in the worst possible way.

Approximately two hours in the hospital and I was lethargic already. My mother advised to visit a medical specialist for a second opinion as she was not satisfied but I was drained enough to carry myself forward. I decided to work against all my energies (the left negligible ones) and move towards the department of Medical Specialist. There were a group of house officers in the doctor’s cabin and one of them started examining me. Her first sentence had been;
Why so weak at such young age?
But well it wasn’t anything new for me. When she checked for my breathing she found out that there are significant differences in breathing patterns of right and left side. The left side of my lungs had a much lower breathing pattern and all of the house officers were amused. One by one they came with their stethoscopes and everyone endorsed that the left lung has a problem. I was then rushed for an urgent X-ray and Blood CP. It took me considerable time to get these tests done and rush back to the doctor and I was praying silently that I get diagnosed today. Moreover, the mere thought of it dreaded me that if the doctor leaves today (as I was late), I won’t get diagnosed and if i don’t get diagnosed how would I even sleep today with the same pain again. I would still be munching candies every time when the cough won’t stop and keep these fennel seeds in my mouth which don’t help limit the cough and pain much now.

Hhhh… They don’t help much

Luckily, the doctor was considerate enough to wait for my reports even after her off-time. I saw her waiting in her room when I least expected it and she was amused upon seeing my X-ray. Partial Left Lung Collapse.

The proper diagnosis was still unclear but she admitted me to the hospital.
They had been suspecting Pneumonia, Small Cell Lung Cancer, Bronchitis and Tuberculosis. I was given symptomatic treatment including steroids, pain killers, bronchodilators and fever-reducing medications.

Soon then they proceeded with taking the sputum samples but upon taking considerable amount of samples the results still showed AFB negative. Ruling out the chances for Tuberculosis. The symptoms improved significantly with symptomatic treatment but they soon appeared again with even more intensity.
They decided to go for AFB testing again but no luck- still AFB negative. Urine, Stool, Hepatitis, Malaria, Liver function, Lung function, ESR, Lung CT (many others) and even HIV Elisa (test for AIDS) was also done but nothing could be detected. Simply conceding that I had to spend the next few days in the hospital room with a single cupboard’s door

Hospital room.. and passing time drinking only water

The in-charge Department of Pulmonology was consulted and he advised to conduct an HRCT for my lungs.
The results showed significant lung damage and I was started on Anti-Tuberculosis Chemotherapy.

A Bronchoscopy was also scheduled to confirm the diagnosis but it had to be done after a whole week.
I was considerably relaxed and partially satisfied that at least I have found the direction now.

ALAS! Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a much larger storm.

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29 Comments

  1. These are so raw, I marvel at how you’re even able to write and publish them. That strength, I am grateful for. No one really knows this until they go through it. I didn’t even know there was such a thing such as anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy. Education coupled with awareness, we are thankful Maariyah!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of that. I, too, had something wrong and the Drs. did not know what it was. After multiple testing I was diagnosed with a auto immune disease sarcoidosis. It was a relief to know, although, very scary to have this new disease. Tuberculosis is much more serious and I wish you well. I’m sure it was hard emotionally to blog about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been pretty hard for me to initially associate this word (i.e., Tuberculosis) with me.
      But the main purpose here was to spread the word and let people know that TB is not far gone. It still exists and it still needs to be battled along.
      I wish you tranquility and healing.
      Thank you for popping by

      Like

  3. That is a very salutatory story. It is perhaps true to say that many years ago, when TB was a common illness, your doctors might have thought of it much sooner. It is horrible being unwell and the tests failing to give an answer, it just compounds and amplifies the stress. Fortunately, however, the end of your investigations has been something that should be entirely treatable. Hopefully the future can now start to look a bit brighter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you fo reaching out to me and thank you for sharing your story. It is so demoralizing when the tests come back negative even though the symptoms are there. I am still in limbo for an official diagnosis, but I have found major improvement in the last year. My thoughts are with you in every capacity!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thankyou for sharing. I feel privileged to follow and read your blog as you embark on this journey of not only physical healing but also becoming more self aware of your own mental and spiritual health in the process. A real eye opener and an insight can really show us how to be more empathetic to others and grow to be increasingly respectful of an individual’s personal life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sadia. I consider it my pleasure 🙂
      It is very true that pain can be an eye opener and a guide towards consideration and empathy. I realized it specifically while my hospital stay, every other patient and attendants were so empathetic and caring towards each other even without knowing them.
      I had been very weak in those days and I remember there used to be an elderly woman who would encourage me to eat more (you don’t actually have an appetite in TB) and even offer half her food to me.

      Like

      1. Stay strong Mariyaah. I work out in the community helping those less able to be independent again and I always tell them, eat drink, sleep and exercise (don’t go overboard with that one) Think of positive thoughts every day and smile to bring yourself to a positive state. Your body will heal as long as you give it the right fuel it needs..everyday is a new challenge and just give your body time to heal.

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  6. This sounds so stressful! I’m glad they got a diagnosis in the end and I hope the anti-tuberculosis therapy is working. They should also check you for Aspergillus fumigatus infection every so often during and after the treatment (by glyocmannans and IgG), as this is a fungus that sometimes grows opportunistically in lungs that have been damaged by Mycobacteria (usually in the first three years following treatment). It can be treated with antifungals but sometimes doctors don’t realize they should screen for it, and the symptoms are quite similar to tuberculosis. Here’s an article about it, maybe you’ll find interesting as you’re a med student. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-089441/en/
    I wish you all the best with your therapy and hope you will feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woah.. I had no idea about CPA. I will definitely definitely discuss it with my doctor.
      Thank you so much for taking out the time to enlighten me about it.
      And another thank you for the helpful article you shared. I was seriously clueless about this condition.
      That is seriously very considerate of you NN. I am highly obliged.

      Thank you again for your kind words.
      Mariyaah.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Writing at this point must be both painful yet healing in a way. Coming up with an awareness at this lethargic time is an act of great strength. Thanks for sharing, I wish you a speedy recovery and very energetic well-being..💐

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It came to my mind because you mentioned in your post that TB is not very common in your area, so I thought perhaps the doctors are also not so familiar with CPA. I’m glad the information is useful to you!

    Like

  9. I’m so sorry you had to go through so much! Being in the hospital for days and getting that kind of diagnosis can be terrifying. I admire your strength for being able to talk openly about your experiences. Wishing you the best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel sorry for you. This is a very touching story, thank you for sharing it.
    I admire your strenght and wish you all the best.

    Like

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