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.
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.
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.
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
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.