My name is Pat Bond, and I am a registered nurse who was working in a private dialysis unit in Cape Town, South Africa when I contracted MDR TB in 2010.
I was initially diagnosed with a lung infection, and treated with antibiotics and a corticosteroid inhaler. My health did not improve, but I continued working at the unit. In December, I began having night sweats and had more chest X-rays and a TB skin test. That was the last day I worked at the unit.
The X-ray showed TB in my right lung and the skin test reacted immediately. I was very concerned as only 2 days previously I had been in a car traveling for over 4 hours with my Mom, son and his girlfriend, to have Christmas lunch with my daughter in Langebaan. Fortunately, nobody else was infected.
I was admitted to hospital, still not fully realising the implications of what having TB meant. To me it was unheard of to contract TB. I lived in a well-ventilated flat. I was not malnourished or sick. Then a few days later I was given the news that I had MDR TB!
Even now, I feel nauseous when I think of that medication. I felt so ill, weak and tired. My hearing deteriorated, a side effect of the Amikaycin. I now struggle with deafness and need to wear hearing aids. Another very important but often unspoken side-effect of the medication is depression. Mine would continue long after I stopped taking the medication.
I was readmitted for extreme nausea and vomiting, and my meds were adjusted. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, during my last hospital stay, my flat was burgled. I felt so vulnerable.
There’s more: I had to have a lobectomy. Around April 2012 I started to turn a corner. I was still taking my medications and suffering through depression, when I was pronounced clear of MDR TB.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to return to nursing, which has left a massive void in my life. I feel that MDR TB has robbed me of so much.
But here’s the thing: after all this I still feel lucky. I survived TB. And I’m here telling my story. Now it’s time for other healthcare workers to tell their stories. If you know a healthcare worker, please, ask them to share their #TBunmasked stories here:
But thankfully, on a positive note, I became a member of TB PROOF in January 2013, and gain such pleasure by doing TB advocacy work, speaking to other healthcare workers and raising awareness about TB. If I can prevent just ONE person from being infected, by telling my story, then I believe it was not in vain.
Thank you and all my best,