Maria was diagnosed with TB at our centre at The Whittington Hospital after suffering from a persistent cough, chest pain and feeling faint.
She said: “I was terrified because I’m a mature woman and in my younger years TB was something that people died of, but the clinic staff explained to me there was a cure and nothing to worry about.”
TB can cause serious health problems, but it is curable with proper treatment. Following her diagnosis, Maria was treated with a course of antibiotics, but she struggled with the medication.
Maria explains: “The clinic told me there was a medication I had to take, but I don’t like pills. I came into the clinic every single day for two weeks where the nurse was sitting down with me to take a pill every half an hour, for me to realise it was not going to do me any harm. They were wonderful and gave me a lot of support and understanding.”
Fear of discrimination can mean people with TB symptoms delay seeking help, making it more likely that they will become seriously ill and infect others. However, when Maria told her family – including her sons, daughter and grandchildren – they were very supportive and helped her to take her pills.
Maria’s family, along with some of her friends who had been in close contact, also came into the clinic for tests to see if they had been infected. Maria was relieved when they got the all-clear. She learnt that for one person to catch TB from another person generally requires at least 8 hours of contact within the same room, so TB is very unlikely to transfer from one person to another during casual contact, even with her baby granddaughter.
After nine months of treatment, during which time she has also kicked her 40-a-day smoking habit, Maria has now been given the all-clear too.
Maria has this advice for anyone who thinks they might have TB: “If you’ve got these symptoms where your chest hurts and you’re coughing and you feel faint, please get checked out. I’ve been taking my medication for nine months, today is my last day and the sky opened for me because I feel wonderful. They’ve taken years off me and I haven’t got enough words to say thank you to all the staff.”