There are strange things that are also unexpected; like drastic appetite and weight loss in December. Also, experiencing general fatigue after hours of sitting up at your desk is something that is likely to surprise you, or at least get you thinking, “What could be wrong with my body? Doesn’t it recognise its time to give it back?”

Even stranger is waking up on damp bedding that makes you wonder whether the bed really belongs to you, and you imagine that it is the worry that is giving you all the headache that’s not going away. Not even after popping three painkillers into your mouth and drowning them in tasteless water because at that time, nothing has taste in your mouth.

That is how I suspected that something was not right with my health. But as it stood, December  2012 was a busy time for everyone at home to care about an adult who was not willing to eat to his satisfaction. Neither was I really interested in attracting unnecessary discussions around my health. I let it pass but that wouldn’t be for long.

The Awakening

About three months later in March 2013, similar signs of ill health struck. Milder than before and that could not pass unnoticed by those who watched me sweat fervently after doing literally no physical activity. I wanted to hide it and work it out by myself but that wasn’t going to work.  There is something the Englishman likes to say: ‘Truth will out.’

Truth did out eventually. Eventually, I started experiencing dry coughs persistently which time to time, bore blood clots. Chest pains turned out to be the order of the day. Unusual. Or was it?

Walking around became strenuous. I could pant heavily like a bull pulling an ox plough. This went on until one day, feeling dizzy, I fell on my knees and blacked out.

When i came to, the doctor recommended that I take tuberculosis tests, and sure to his assumption, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. TB. Me? TB?  That couldn’t be. I had started denying it, feeling broken and done until I was given an assurance that I’d heal once and for all. There were many theories as to where and how I contracted the disease, and that triggered me to find out more about it.

TB ina TIBA.

Granted, Tuberculosis is an airborne infectious disease that is caused by bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, there are two conditions of tuberculosis: latent TB and Active TB.

Latent TB is the kind that is in the body but there are no signs of its presence and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another.

On the other hand, Active TB as the name suggests is the kind that can be contagious and can easily be transmitted from one person to another.

TB is usually spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or yawns without covering their noses or mouths such that another person inhales the air. Also, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is carried through sputum, and therefore it can be spread when an infected spits in an unhygienic way.

While anyone can get TB, the similar symptoms become evident depending on the overall health of the individual. Such include uncomfortable and persistent coughing that goes on for about three weeks or longer. Sometimes it may involve coughing blood clots or mucus from the lungs.

Secondly, someone who has contracted TB will experience unexplained chest pains that become chronic with time.

General fatigue and body weakness without necessarily engaging in strenuous activity could be a sign too that one is suffering from TB.

One more evident symptom is fever and also chills. One experiences fluctuations in body temperature, and profuse sweating especially at night.

As these symptoms points to the possibility of having contracted the disease, it is advisable to see a doctor for the TB test.

The tests available include chest x-rays, blood tests and sputum test, the latter which is carried out at least twice to establish the presence or absence of the bacteria.

Tuberculosis, although it can get fatal if not noted in its early stages, is treatable.  If diagnosed, one is put under antibiotics medication for a period of about 6 to 9 months, depending on their age, health status and the far the disease has spread.

And! The good news is that preventing the spread of TB is easy. Covering the mouth when coughing, not spitting aimlessly, and also avoiding crowded places.

Suffice to say, I survived TB. Others do not. But in the age of modernity, it is our imperative to keep ourselves healthy. Don’t wait till is too late. If you suspect, or feel like the coughing is too much, it is time to see your doctor. TB, ina TIBA!

BY: Muchira Gachenge

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