TB Personal Stories – Karen’s Story
Karen started to feel sick after giving birth to her fourth child. She had a fever, night sweats, and lost her appetite. Worst of all, it was hard to breathe.
“After I had my son, I started to feel sick. I was really tired. The nurses started to notice that my breathing levels were going down and the fever started after that. They couldn’t pinpoint it. They sent me for an x-ray of my lungs and that’s how they misdiagnosed me with pneumonia. So I was treated for pneumonia for about a week and a half,” says Karen.
Soon after she got home from the hospital, the fevers and nights sweats came back. “The night sweats were worse, the fevers were worse. My trouble breathing was worse, couldn’t get upstairs. I couldn’t do simple tasks. I lost a lot of weight and I didn’t feel like eating. I just felt tired all the time,” Karen recalls.
Karen was soon back in the hospital where she got another chest x-ray and was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) disease. Not long after, her lung collapsed and she had to be intubated. While Karen started treatment in the hospital, her newborn son was also diagnosed with TB disease.
“They gave me the news that the baby had active TB. It was definitely hard being away from him but being able to know that we were both going to get the treatment we needed was also very important,” says Karen.
Karen appreciated the support of directly observed therapy (DOT) during her TB disease treatment. Directly observed therapy is a way of helping patients take their medicine for TB. Karen met with a health care worker to take her TB medicine while the health care worker watched. In fact, after completing her treatment she was hired by her local public health department as a DOT technician.
“I used to go out to the field and visit patients who couldn’t make it to the health department, to take their medicine every day. And I just kind of, I could relate to them. I kind of try to give them hope that it’s, I mean it’s curable, they can get better and I just like to share my story with them”, says Karen.
Now that she and her son have recovered from TB disease, Karen says, “My perspective has definitely changed after I went through my TB treatment. It has definitely made me more grateful for my health because you really never know how wonderful it is until you don’t have it.”