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An American Woman's Battle with Latent TB

It was a yearly check up. The doctor’s office did a skin test as part of their routine. Embarrassing to admit, but I never paid attention to my skin after the test. The doctor happened to have concerns about moles on my body, and advised me to see a dermatologist. The following week my moles were being inspected. The dermatologist stopped at my left arm, pointed at a discolored spot, and adamantly stated, “This is not right!” It was the same spot the doctor’s office took the skin test. A week later it was confirmed I had Latent TB.

Immediately I started taking isoniazid everyday for the next nine months. I took the dosage before bed to sleep off the initial edge. By morning, dehydration kicked in and coconut water became my morning coffee. Vitamin D became my multi-vitamin to stop my skin from tingling. As the months passed by, lethargy increased. The mind became clouded and it was hard to focus. Working and living in a fast pace environment was wearing on my body and mind. There were days that I could not have made it without the support of the people around me.

Initially I was reluctant to tell anyone about the TB. Granted it is not active, but there is a fear it could at any time. Not knowing how I contracted the disease was also unsettling. In the US there is no dialogue about TB, so it is natural to fear what you do not know. My concern was that people would feel weird, or not want to be around me at all. In the end I was glad I opened up, if I did not, I would not have had the support I needed to get through those tough days.

It has been a year now since I was diagnosed with Latent TB. It would be easy to move forward now that the regimen is over, but there is always a chance my disease could become active. I went through what some might say is the easiest drug regimen for any form of TB – and it was NOT easy. The possibility of taking multiple drugs for a longer period of time not an option I wish to ever have to endure. There is an absolute need for new drugs where the regimen’s burden would be reduced dramatically. TB is a global crisis and yet people here in the US are unaware. A dialogue needs to be started and people like myself need to tell their story.