It had taken a year to gain a diagnosis – Arthensia had been prescribed allergy treatment and had even attempted to treat herself with cold remedies. By this time, she had fluid in her lungs and stomach, and an enlarged liver.
“It began with a sore throat which lasted two weeks. I remember thinking that it was not like any sore throat I had experienced since I’d suffered regular bouts of tonsillitis as a child. It felt like my throat was always the first thing to be attacked.
“I got over this sore throat, but started to have symptoms of ‘nose to throat draining’. I don’t suffer with allergies, so it was unusual. I went to my GP and explained my symptoms. I was given Beconase. This went on for year and a half, with doctors giving me everything from nose drops to nasal sprays. I felt well enough, but the symptoms were uncomfortable and did not go away.
“Now I know that TB has cold-like symptoms, but at the time I tried helping myself with Benalin syrup to get rid what I thought to be catarrh. It seemed to work and my symptoms dried up. I was still referred to hospital for an x-ray though, as my GP worked to diagnose the problem. I suppose they were almost there, but not quite.
“The x-ray showed nothing, though I also had no physical symptoms either at this stage. However, I was soon experiencing tiredness and dizziness, which I thought was anaemia. My tummy became hard on one side; though it soon disappeared which I thought was weird.
“A month later, I started to experience a sensation in the left side of my chest; breathlessness and tiredness. As soon as I got in from work I led flat out, and sometimes fell asleep for a period. My tummy began to swell prominently around the naval area. I went to my GP and showed her my stomach and mentioned the sensation around the left side of my chest. She checked me over but did not know what it was, so she referred me to hospital for a scan.
“I went home not really knowing what to do – by the end of the week I was worse. My tummy grew more. I was feeling cold one moment and then very hot. I went to the hospital.
“The doctor there asked if I’d come into contact with TB. I thought many things. I had already been vaccinated aged 14. I overheard him going over the symptoms of TB with a junior doctor, I said, amazed, ‘Yes! That’s it!’
“I could not understand why my GP did not diagnose it – even when I stood there with the symptoms!
“In the later stages, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I was no longer the same person. I had lost a lot of body fat in a short time but my tummy looked like a woman who was six months pregnant. I had fluid in my lung and stomach and enlarged lymph nodes and liver. My period stopped.
“Thankfully, I had gone to the hospital when I did because it all felt much worse after that.
Once I had the biopsy and it was confirmed they started my treatment. I was off work for eight months due to my health and appearance. I also had to have blood transfusion as I was badly anaemic. My weight was checked regularly and I received iron injections.
“I regained my weight, my appearance improved and my body did not hurt too much though my lungs were a little delicate. The lymph node behind my stomach will remain enlarged.
“There had been an increase in TB around that time, I heard, though it had not been made well known. Still, I felt my GP should have taken more interest in my symptoms. The head GP there said it should have been diagnosed. I suppose he has seen many cases.
“What has to be understood is that you don’t have to travel to get TB, it is around and will always be around. And I say to anyone persist with your GP, I did, but not enough and nearly paid a price for it.”