When I was first diagnosed with tuberculosis, I was a medical Intern at Jimma University Specialized Hospital, Ethiopia. As a medical intern our main concerns were getting our job done, caring for our patients and acquiring all the skills from our teachers to become good physicians. We literally were selfless. Skipped meals, sleepless duty nights, thirty-six hours of work with no rest were not strange to us. Self-protection materials like gloves and masks were a luxury. I believe this experience is similar in most of the third world countries’ medical schools. Needle pricks, blood splashes, getting soaked in amniotic fluid were our daily stories. I was one of these selfless ones. I can’t remember putting a mask on to examine a coughing patient & nobody warned me about not doing that.
I was diagnosed with TB by chest x-ray halfway through internship year. I started treatment as soon as I was diagnosed. For all I knew, tuberculosis was easy to treat once diagnosed. Little did I know getting treated was not as easy as it seemed. I was not sure if I was unlucky or something, but things were not getting any better despite treatment. I had repeated visits to internists and pulmonologists, tried different additional antibiotics and even steroids, but was still coughing. Climbing stairs was a struggle. Waking up without sweat-soaked pyjamas and bed sheets became unthinkable.