Thursday, 20 August 2015

TBC: End of Treatment Update

Almost a year ago, I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis - which I talked about here - and later on, I shared some info on the disease here. If you haven't already, I highly encourage you to read the aforementioned articles - especially the latter - as this will only be an overall view, comment and update of my story with this illness. First off, I'd like to announce - although you might have known from my instagram - that I am finally off my meds! After 12 months of strict pill-taking and a couple surgeries, I can finally let out a sigh of relief of having a pill-free life. Let me walk you through all the aspects of my treatment and how far I've come since I started.


As you might remember, before I was diagnosed, I was almost always short of breath and, therefore, got tired very easily - even fainted once! After I was diagnosed, the doctor discovered that my left lung shrank into half its normal size thanks to some fluid filling my chest from the infection I got from the TB-bacteria. After the fluid got sucked out of my chest, it became really hard to breath for a while - my chest actually squeaked when I inhaled - but then it got better after a week or so, like I was almost back to normal. The x-ray above was taken in November, after two months of treatment. You can see that the size was already back to normal so soon. There was no more x-rays since then but I can imagine it looking exactly like it's supposed to now. In fact, I've managed to do aerobics weekly for around 2 months now. And I didn't faint once!


You might not have noticed how thin and unhealthy I looked a year ago. I didn't even notice it myself - and, in fact, was quite baffled to find people thinking so and asking me why. But, if I put a before-and-after sequence like above, you can see the immense difference. To put it into numbers: in the first photo, I weighed roughly 53 kg - with a height of 161 cm. Although according to the BMI scale that is within the healthy range, with my small bones, I looked positively ghastly. It is due to the sharp decline of appetite I had for the second quarter-year of 2014. After returning back home, being spoiled with food compatible with my taste buds and given appetite-enhancing medications, in seven months I was able to gain 18 kg. A shocker, I know. Thanks to Ramadhan and self-consciousness, I managed to lose around 3 kg within 2 months. I know, I still have a long way to go. Now you know how much I actually weigh...


Due to the malignancy of my disease when it was diagnosed, it developed really quickly from a couple harmless - albeit itchy - bumps on my neck to puss-filled lumps. When I went to the doctor, the bump below my right ear was already nigiri sushi-sized but it wasn't painful. After two months of treatment, it suddenly grew another, softer bump but it was red. Before it had a chance to explode on my neck - which would be majorly painful - I went to surgery to have it opened. It was slit open once more in the second surgery, when the doctor figured out that that bigger bump was connected to a smaller bump below it, near the shoulder. After the surgeries, I went to tons of check-ups, which were incredibly insufferable and not a walk-in-the-park, until both the scars closed - one was stitched up, one closed naturally - almost 2 months later. They were still kind of bumpy at first, not unlike a scar you get from a cut, but little by little became quite invisible - I bet you can't find the second one. Pictured above are what the first bump looked like before the surgery (left), what it looked like after they closed (right) and what it looks like now, 8 months later (last).


Now, the moment of truth: how many pills did I actually take? After calculating it, based on memory alone, the essential medication adds up to 780 pills for 12 months. That, however, doesn't include the antibiotics, painkiller and stomach medicine for post-op. Also doesn't include the vitamin B pills, especially to make the body stronger to withstand the TB medication. While the TB medication is good to cure Tuberculosis, there is no denying how strong it is for our internal organs. Every patient reacts differently to the pills - some I know became very sleepy, some others became quite numb - so make sure you tell your doctor at the first sign of trouble. The most common case is vomiting. Thankfully, I found no unfortunate reaction my body gave to the medicine - the antibiotics, however, are a different story. I'm also proud to say that I've never missed one single pill intake, as prescribed by the doctor - not to say there weren't any close-calls, though. As of 15 August 2015, I can officially say that I am off my meds! Pictured above are my painkiller (pink) and vitamin B (green) - not sponsored, I swear.

Overall, this process has been the longest treatment I've ever had to go through for an illness, but I'm glad it wasn't something more serious or deadly - when you see a bump on your body, your mind just goes straight to cancer, am I right? It gave me quite an experience, in terms of medical care. Never before did I become this familiar with a hospital. Speaking of which, one of my childhood (macabre) dreams was finally crossed off the list: having a surgery. It felt like the blink of an eye - but post-op was painfully slow - although I'll never recommend it unless necessary. Last but not least, I cannot stress this enough to everyone: take good care of yourself! Eat well, sleep well and move well. Keep a balance diet, bed schedule and workout regime! If you find anything slightly off about your body - ANYTHING at all - never hesitate to consult with a doctor. Maybe I should tell you that I had a very strange skin condition over a year ago - I call it "zombie fingers and toes" - and it might have had something to do with this disease as well. Any abnormality can be caused by something you'd never thought of before, so be aware. Hope this helps anyone in some way, stay safe and stay healthy!

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