TB Personal Stories

Emily’s Story

Emily’s first symptom was a continuous cough that got especially bad in the middle of the night. She would wake up and cough for 30 minutes. It felt like she had eaten something hot and spicy like a chili pepper that made her cough. But it wouldn’t go away.

During her first visit to the hospital the doctors told her she had the flu and she was sent home. After her symptoms continued to get worse over time, she went to a clinic and was prescribed an antibiotic. But it didn’t help.

Emily began to have chills throughout the day and night. She was feeling more and more tired. One morning she woke up, got dressed, and was too tired to walk out the door. She knew something was very wrong.

She went to the hospital again. The doctors performed many tests as they tried to figure out what was causing Emily’s illness. She was losing lots of weight, not able to keep down food or water, and extremely tired. Finally, the doctors found a clue. They discovered fluid between her heart and lungs. They removed the fluid and tested it for TB. It was positive. Finally, Emily had a TB diagnosis.

Emily’s first reaction was fear. “I have some other family, friends – they died because of TB. The way I saw them get sick, I was like, God, please don’t give me this. I don’t like to be sick with TB,” Emily recalls.

The first few weeks of her treatment was difficult. Things began to improve once doctors found the right treatment regimen for her TB. With the right treatment, and a very supportive hospital staff, Emily began to get better. “If you work with doctors and your nurses, you will heal,” says Emily.

Since completing treatment, Emily has learned to drive and has a fulfilling job as a respiratory technician where she uses her story to connect with and help patients.

Emily explains, “I like it because I always like engaging with the patients. Some I can tell them, they will be like, ‘Oh, I’m dying.’ I’ll say, ‘You know what? You are not going to die.’ I explain my story to them. They feel better. They say, ‘Okay, thank you’”.

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Emily’s TB was difficult to diagnose. It was not until doctors tested fluid between her heart and lungs that she learned she had TB. After completing treatment, she now works in health care, where she uses her story to connect with patients.  http://bit.ly/2CUzLpvexternal icon

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Since completing TB treatment, Emily now works in health care where she uses her story to connect with patients.  http://bit.ly/2CUzLpvexternal icon

Page last reviewed: January 2, 2019