A real story- testimonial

by Gabriel Ivan, former TB patient, Romania

 

            "Back in late summer 2007, while I was on holiday with my family in Turkey, I caught what I thought to be a strong cold with high fever. At first, doctors said it was pneumonia, gave me some antibiotics, and released me from the hospital after three days. The next day I left Turkey, came home and started work.

Later on that week, I began to feel very exhausted, I sweated a lot and I couldn't sleep at night because of a cough. I got back to the doctor, who examined me very carefully and sent me to the Marius Nasta Hospital, Romania, for more detailed analysis, as - I was shocked to find out - she suspected me of pleurisy tuberculosis (TB).

That moment, I felt that everything I knew about myself made no sense anymore. I  was pushed into a world I knew nothing about and that scared me enough to feel at a loss. A series of questions was raised in my mind. At the same time, I still had the hope that it was a mistake, and that this couldn't happen to me as I was just not the right candidate for it.

Then, I had to go to the hospital and, for the first time in years, I found myself in a hospital, with all that implies in Romania: lack of space, comfort, sometimes even hygiene. Due to the infectious nature of the illness, I couldn't get many visitors and I felt isolated from the outside world .

When I finally got the test results, one week after being hospitalised, the shock was immense. From a psychological point of view, I can say it was one of the most difficult moments in my life. I perceived this to be a stigma taking me out of the world, as everybody, except family, would fear to stay near me so as not to catch the disease. I feared as well that I might lose my job, and, what was more important, I feared for my two year old son who I didn't know whether or not could have caught TB.   

Then, I received treatment in the hospital and long discussions with two very patient doctors - Delia Marta and Cristina Giurca. Their support was essential as they managed to make me see that it was not as bad as I thought it would be, and that if I received the correct treatment for the recommended time period, I had every chance to win back my life and my health.

While I was in hospital, I shared stories with other patients. Among them, there was one that had to return to hospital after six months  because he gave up the prescribed treatment. He told me that when he stopped taking the pills he was prescribed, he felt fine and could see no use in taking them any longer. But now, a disease that could have been cured in six months, got  a lot worse and he wasn't sure how long he was going have to stay in the hospital or whether he would ever be perfectly cured again. For me, his story was very important, as it made me realise it was essential not to consider yourself fine until doctors said so.

At the end of a month, I left the hospital and got back home. I started work after another month, but I continued treatment for another five months.

Once I was back to work and back to my family, who by the way, didn't get TB, I felt better as I could see TB doesn't end your family, social or professional relationships. I must say that once  I  got to work, at first people looked at me as I once used to look at contagious people. That was a challenge, but I was confident and I kept repeating to them for a while what the doctors had told me - that I was no risk to anyone now and that more important than anything else is to not  exhaust  your body otherwise it may be susceptible to other infections.

It's been three years since I completed treatment, I feel fine, I don't even get colds very often, but I look at other sick people in a different way. I still work long hours and I  can have a normal life. I am still with the same company and have been  promoted twice since my illness and, even if back then it seemed that I didn't  have a  future with this company, I can now say  that TB didn't mean that my career with this company was over. I think a positive attitude and transparency when people ask questions can help a lot."

 

Gabriel Ivan                                                                              Bucharest 2011