Monday, January 27, 2014

TB and Me  - A lesson I learnt and an experience I would like to share.

A year ago, a page in my diary reads “I am an officially declared TB free woman now” in bold with a wink, which I had later painted with a pink highlighter to mark this day of freedom every year, if not at least till I forget the pain. It was January 25 last year (2013), I remember how happy and relaxed I was, after completing my TB medication of 6 months. The moment was truly a proud moment for me, an emotion I had not felt even after passing the toughest papers in exam and more importantly, it was a relief for my family and friends who had genuinely worried for me. I felt more pleased to have gone through such pain and having come out of it as a stronger and a healthier person. I remember jumping three times in the hospital car parking and proudly recollecting what the doctor had just said. She said, my chest X ray displayed no infections and neither did my other tests show any remains of the dreadful disease, but the most exciting of all was that I had put on 7.5 Kgs extra weight. Finally a new record of 52.5 Kgs was set J. Ever since I had grown 155 cm tall, my weight always fluctuated from 48  to 50 Kgs and when I was said to be infected by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in July 2012, my weight had reduced to 45 Kgs for the first time.  
TB is the acronym for Tuberculosis. It is a common and in many cases fatal and an infectious disease caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that is spread from person to person through airborne particles. TB primary attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. TB can be pulmonary and non pulmonary. Pulmonary TB is infectious and is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit respiratory fluids through the air. Most people who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. But if the immune system weakens, TB bacteria can become active. In their active state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Active TB disease can be fatal if left untreated.
How I knew I was infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the Symptoms of TB:
I was a very unhealthy person since a child catching a cold every four seasons, getting a sore throat whenever I drank something cold (I had avoided ice cream parlors for this reason, I still do), a mouth ulcer whenever I ate some pan masala or doma (Betel nut), a tooth ache whenever I ate chocolates/candy, a loose motion/constipation every time I ate out and some more that I cannot remember now. As I grew, I got used to eating outside considering my studies at boarding schools, though I still had to think first if I was ready for an another pain before chewing panmasala, doma and drinking cold stuffs. Cold remained unavoidable and I continued to get one every season making it at least four times in a year. That week of summer, 2012, I thought it was my usual time of catching a cold as summer had just begun. As always, I started my dose of sinarest (a common medicine used for treating cold in my country), started my gurgling sessions, drank warm water, stayed away from cold water, wrapped myself with a thick scarf so that I could prevent myself from getting a sore throat, through experience I had known that the two together would be a horrible combination. However, in spite of such impressive care of myself, my condition was getting worst day by day. A mild fever and some joint pain had added up to my already worsening condition. My parents started getting worried and started asking my sister (who stays with me) to take me to a doctor. Even for me, the pain had started becoming unbearable and I thought I would at least get a painkiller from the hospital. I went to see the doctor. The usual Q&A session started, if I was married, questions about my fever, my appetite, dizziness, etc but the last one astounded me, I had not even thought about it in my wildest dream, the doctor asked me, if I had someone in my family who was suffering from TB. Of course I had none, but I felt something cold inside, a ‘could be’ kind of feeling suddenly started running in my head. The doctor gave me some antibiotics and some painkiller as expected and asked me to come back if my condition deteriorates after the dose was completed, it was for five days. I couldn't wait for five days as I had started coughing and the thought of getting diagnosed with TB did not leave me in peace. Though I had some basic knowledge about TB, I had never found it necessary to know more about the disease as no close one had been diagnosed with it. With the little knowledge I had about the disease, I at least knew that a person suffering from TB would look extremely weak/sickly, dark and would use a mouth mask. However, that night after getting back from the hospital, I Google (d) about TB and it educated me enough to stay prepared for the awful news that was on its way. On the third day, I went to the hospital again as I couldn't wait any longer. The doctor listed a series of test to be done, Sputum Test for three days, Blood Test and Chest X ray. I wasn't very surprised on the fourth day when I received a call from the hospital asking me to start my medication right away.
Most people who gets infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not present symptoms of the disease. However, when symptoms are present, they include:

§  Weight loss
§  Shortness of breath
§  Night sweats
§  Chills
§  Loss of appetite
§  Fatigue
§  coughing that lasts for 3 or more weeks
§  coughing up blood
§  chest pain
§  painful breathing
§  Pain when coughing.
Some Lessons I learnt which I thought was worth sharing:
Our immune system does a remarkable job of defending us against diseases causing microorganisms. The bacterium entering the body cannot be destroyed if the body has a weak immune system. A weak immune system, I always had it in me, but I never thought it was so important that it needed some attention. Whenever, I got infected with some cold or cough or minor infections, I used to have a medicine and I would be fine in few days but I never realized that it was just a temporary remedy. However, I have started to give a boost to my immune system now. I learnt it only after the dreadful experience but you can learn it before one J :
Boost your immune system after changing your following habits:
1.    Don’t skip breakfast (at all) – I regret for not listening to my family, my teachers and my body and skipping my breakfast always as I would be in a hurry every morning rushing to school/college/office after waking up late. I never skip one now, I wake up early enough to have time for breakfast.

   2.   Eat Healthy diet - Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat. I always liked to eat dried meat (Dry Fish used to be my favorite); no green vegetables; no fruits; Tea instead of water/fruit juice all the time and more adds up. I have changed my dieting habit now and I feel healthier every day.J
3.      Do exercise regularly. (Exercising, I used to feel like some kind of punishment, maybe because I was too lazy. Now I realize how important and exciting it is)
4.    Control your blood pressure. (I never checked my Blood Pressure unless I was asked by the doctor to do so. I check my BP once in three months now)
5.     Don’t smoke. (I didn't smoke either)
6.      Maintain a healthy weight. (I never did routine weight check, I do it every 3 months now)
7.      If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
8.    Get adequate sleep. (I never used to get adequate sleep, I usually slept very late watching movies, reading on bed and had to wake up early enough to reach office on time. I hardly slept for 4-5 hours sleep which now I realize was very unhealthy for my body. Now I make it a point that I get at least 7-8 hours sleep daily)
9.   Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cook meats thoroughly.
 TB Medication and its side effects:
The medication they said would be for 6 months as mine was an initial stage. I saw the medicine on the table of the health assistant, it read as rifampicin and there was another capsule with the name pyrazinamide. Like the name, the medicines looked quite creepy too and I had to eat three rifampicin tablets and a pyrazinamide capsule in a day which means I had to eat 720 tablets to get rid of the mycobacterium. TB germs are said to die very slowly. Fortunately or unfortunately, I wasn’t admitted in the hospital as there weren’t enough beds. However, I was asked to stay in isolation for two weeks and to wear a mouth mask when I had visitors. I started the medication right away but I was asked to come to the hospital daily to get my medicine. Later did I realize that, it was because the hospital wanted to make sure that no patients miss any of their doses. It was very thoughtful; every citizen’s life was precious after all. J
Lucky that I was born in a country like Bhutan, else I bet the medicines would have cost me quite an earning. I am very grateful and I believe every Bhutanese should be.
The first few days, the medicines did not affect me much except for the change in the colour of my urine and a little feeling of dizziness. The following days, I saw hell. The side effects of the TB medication were terrible. I was asked to eat healthy. Forget about eating healthy, I couldn't eat anything, I had completely lost my appetite. I vomited the little food I swallowed, I still had high fever, terrible headache that kept me awake the whole night, fatigue, tingling and numbness in my hands and the worst of all was the itchy skin. I felt like soaking myself in cold water the whole night. One of those days, I had written in my diary, “I pray no one in this world be infected with this dreadful/awful/terrible/ disease, not even the worst people in the world. The pain is unbearable. God, please take me out of this quickly”. This year when I read it, I literally cried as I could still feel the pain. These were just physical affect. In addition, I used to feel very depressed/ lonely, I had become so forgetful, that one day I left the car on start and went to the vegetable market for shopping and didn't even realize it until I got back into the car. I had also started losing my temper.
My parents, my grandparents, my sister, my brother, my relatives and my close friends had been very supportive throughout this aching journey of mine. My grandmother used to stay awake with me throughout the night massaging my head, my legs and hands. My sister and my cousin would cook me healthy food and made sure I had it on time. My friends would always visit me every day and update me with the news outside. My parents came to meet me but had to go back as they had to get back to work but made sure that they talked to me every few hours. They always made me laugh and made me feel much loved. I am very grateful to all of them who made me feel better in their own special ways. I can’t thank them enough.
After two months of medication, after the physical pain finally vanished except for fatigue and headache, I joined office. I didn't have to go to the hospital daily to get my medicine then, they gave me for a week and every Saturday I had to get the dose for the following week.
If you are already diagnosed with TB, It is important to take some basic precautions to stop TB spreading to your family and friends.
  • stay away from work, school or college until your TB treatment team advises you it is safe to return;
  •  always cover your mouth when coughing, sneezing or laughing;
  • carefully dispose of any used tissues in a sealed plastic bag; 
  • open windows when possible to ensure a good supply of fresh air;
  • do not sleep in the same room as other people because you could cough or sneeze in your sleep without realizing it.                                                                                                                                 As a family and a friend of the patient, the following are important:
·         Don’t make them feel bad about the disease (Even if you think so, just keep it to yourself);
·     show your love, concern and support;
·         Cook them healthy food;
·         Clean their rooms daily;

With some research I did on the above drugs, I found out that these drugs are quite strong that they can have long run side effects (even after completion of your medication) like your deteriorating eye sight, trouble in your organs like heart and liver, your blood pressure.
Patients are also said to relapse after completing the treatment. Therefore, it is very important for the patients to take extra care of their health and develop healthy habits to boost their immune system.

I wish every one a healthy and a happy life. :)
                    Stay Healthy and Happy :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My New Year Resolutions 2014

Photo Credit ~ Google
I read somewhere that New Year’s Eve should be seen as a time of rebirth, the chance to start new. We all have something we would like to do better, whether it’s a desire to be more active, less messy, more creative or less attached to things/people. I found the statement very true. As always, I have listed down my resolutions to be the change I want to see :) :

My New Year resolutions for 2014 are:

Photo Credit ~ Google
1. To start a Blog:
Completed ;) I am an owner of a blog, 'Lets Grow Together' (wink wink)

2.   Stop Complaining over small things and practice Gratitude always
I did awesome this year in terms of gratitude, this could be one reasons why I felt 2014 was one of the happiest years I lived except for the demise of my beloved grandfather. I have a gratitude journal to update what i am grateful for every day. The best thing about it is I had at least 3 things to be grateful about everyday, which means I have learnt to appreciate every little thing.
Photo Credit ~ Google
   "Gratitude for the abundance you have received is the best insurance that abundance will continue”-  Prophet Muhammad.

 3.  Start Saving. (# Seriously):

No i couldn't do it even this year :(  So it continues next year!!

Photo Credit ~ Google

4.   Love myself more and forgive myself for the little mistakes I make.

I feel proud, I did an amazing job here :) I am so very much in love with myself, I never realized that i am an awesome company to be with!!! I have also realized that I should be kind with myself because i deserve it  ^^ 

# Sometimes I judge myself pretty harshly. I blame myself for things I have absolutely no control over. It’s just too easy to hold myself to high standards and then get frustrated when I fail to meet them. I expect too much from myself. This year, I shall stop being hard on myself and accept that I am doing the best I can. J

5.    Organize and initiate a family trip this winter. 

       This, i wont say was unsuccessful. Because i had planned everything well. Just that the timing went wrong!! Its postponed to next year!!

6.   Buy school dresses for five students (and increase the number annually).

I bought Five sets of School uniforms for students who couldn't afford to buy a new one :) A pat on my back ~~ I feel Proud :)

Photo Credit ~ Google

  7. Stop eating Rajniganda  ~~~ Successful ^^ I had started a habit of eating this pan masala. Hadn't been able to stop it despite having severe chest pains due to it's consumption ^^ However, since i put this in my resolution, I quit it successfully ;)

 8. Reach office on time ~~~ NO this wasn't successful!!!  at all :( thus continues next year!!

9. Buy a Good Camera   ~~~ Well, my needs changed over time, I was in need of a good cell phone instead of a camera ( I could use the phone camera) And i Bought one .

 10. Stay Happy and be kind always.

Honestly, I think i did this quite well too. I have stayed kind, which in turn always made me feel Happy :) And I wish to stay the same always!!

Photo Credit ~ Google

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Memorable Weekend

I was so disappointed when I had this terrible sore throat after making such a fabulous plan for the weekend. I was literally overjoyed when my sister’s friend, Pema invited us for an herbal stone bath at her place, Drukgyel, a beautiful settlement in the outskirts of Paro. I have very fond memories of Paro, a place I had spent most of my childhood days. Paro is a beautiful and a peaceful town in the western part of Bhutan. As the country’s only international airport is located there, the town is usually full of tourists and handicraft shops. Besides, my parents lived there for more than 15 years, a place where they had seen their children grow from kids to teenagers and then as adults. I lived there a little lesser though but vacations were always awesome.
My heart ached whenever my sister told Pema that she is afraid that we may not be able to come to her place this weekend. Pema is a very sweet girl whom I know since she was a kid. She was one of my sister’s best friends since kindergarten and who was equally excited about our visit. With some awkwardness, I hear my sister say Azhim (Sister) is sick and she may not be able to drive us there.  As she hung her phone, I would tell her I would be all right by the end of the week. I was in bed for two days, could not even go to office with such awful pain. I felt bad; I could not afford to miss the stone bath in any way. It wasn't something I had never experienced in life but it was definitely something I would experience as an adult. I only have very vague memories of childhood stone bathes.

With genuine prayers, I felt little better on the third day and then more better on the fourth day. The fifth day, FRIDAY, there wasn't any sign of cold, sore, anything and I was ready to drive my team to Paro. It took an hour to reach Paro which is usually a 45 minutes drive from Thimphu. We listened to our common favorite, Jason Mraz half the way and the later half we listened to the latest Bollywood hits I had just downloaded that morning for the event. We reached Drukgyel at around 7:00 PM safe and sound. Our host were waiting for us outside with broad smiles. A lady in her late forties with a kind looking face smiled as we got off the car. She was Pema’s mother, with whom we had actually hesitated a little before though my sister kept saying that we needn't feel uncomfortable as aunty is such a sweet heart. So true, I thought when I saw aunty and talked to her. We were escorted to their beautiful warm bungalow. Inside, we were offered suja (Butter tea) with popcorn and zabchi (Fried Rice Flour).
Everything was kept ready by our lovely host. At one end of the ground we had the tub ready with hot stones and the other end had the bonfire with a little tent. The night was beautiful. It had been a while since I was like that under the clear beautiful sky with clear stars and a half moon. The stone bath was awesome. As I got in the tub, I imagined viruses /bacteria and all other unidentified microorganisms leaving my head, heart, lungs and all other parts of the body I was affected with. I felt like all sins, allergies and all other pains leaving my body and bidding me farewell. I had a peaceful half an hour sleep in the tub and after spending another half an hour playing with the warm water, I had to come out as the others were waiting impatiently for their turn. While we got in the tub turn wise turn, the rest of us sat around the fire drinking hot suja and wine talking about movies, books, economy and unemployment issues. By 12 midnight, every one of us had got in the tub twice. Dinner was ready when we returned home. Aunty was waiting for us with the same smile, she looked tired though. I felt really sorry, a little guilty for making her wait for so long and making her work for us. She did not make us feel it in any way though. 
After such delicious and a heavy dinner, our beds were ready. I had such a peaceful night’s sleep in the warm comfy bed. I dreamt about sleeping under the stars that night and I could literally feel myself smiling throughout the night.  I felt really happy and grateful for the wonderful night and even more grateful to the wonderful host.
The next day, I was woken up by the sound of a strong wind that blew through the window. Terrified by the sound, I opened the curtain to see a beautiful apple orchard, only then did I realize that I wasn't home.  I hurried to the washroom and by the time I reached the living room, everyone was surrounding the bhukari sipping their morning tea. I was the second last one to wake up.  A little embarrassed, I joined them quickly. Aunty made me feel better by saying, you must have been tired after such a long drive. I smiled at her gesture though I knew it wasn't really a long drive.

After having a heavy breakfast again, we packed up to come back home. Aunty hurriedly packed some red rice and vegetables for us and left to attend a neighbour’s puja wishing us a safe journey back home and inviting us again over another stone bath. As she left, I sat by the window and watched her walk. As she disappeared, I felt something unusual about the day. The day looked too gloomy to have a better mood but my mood changed in seconds when I saw thin sugary snow fall inconsistently from the sky.
The beautiful sight of Drukgyel after the snow fall (11/01/2014) and the stone bath tub that made our weekend (Below at the left)

Everything was really so unusual about the weekend, I jumped out of the place and went out. Wow, the snow started falling a little heavier with more snow accumulating on the ground. We went for a walk, played snow balls, made little snow men and took pictures. We laughed as we chased each other, I slept on the snow, ate some of it and I felt really happy from within. I realized I haven’t laughed like that for quite long.

At 4:00PM when the snowfall had stopped, we started our journey back home. The snow hadn't melted. The road was slippery and Pema wanted us to stay back, but we had to move as some of our friends had other important appointments the next day. It took us two hours to get back to Thimphu. We spent half an hour on the road block, a car had fallen off the road and it was being pulled out by a crane. Luckily there were no casualties.
It seemed like Thimphu had a lighter snow fall as the snow had all melted by the time we reached home. Finally we were back home to sit around the heater, too lazy to cook making the cold winter as an excuse, and as always all three of us agree to eat some cup noodles and get into bed. As I get in the bed, I reflect the wonderful weekend we had and thanked god and our lovely host before I soar into my dreamland.  :)

The next day, I took my friend’s little sons out to play the little snow left in some corners of Thimphu :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My 27th Birthday Resolution (October 8, 2013 as noted in my dairy :) ) - Reviewed

Besides celebrations, Birthdays for me have always been a time to note down my performance in the previous year and set goals for my coming year. A year older means a year lesser to live which means lesser time to learn and progress in life. I have always had this urge to learn more and be a better version of myself. I have always compared myself with the kind of person I was last year and have appreciated all the improvements I have made. I agree I have lost myself sometimes, got busy with stuffs and failed to fulfill my resolutions and have not learnt anything and grown (at all) in a year though I have noted my birthday resolutions every year.

However, this year’s going to be a different one. I am noting down my resolution on my blog because I want to make sure I fulfill all of them. I feel like noting them down publicly will make me work harder.

 Review in Red (November 18, 2014); Those Stroke off are successfully completed ones, those stroke off and highlighted in green are partially unsuccessful ones :) As i didn't have the time to review and rewrite my resolutions for the 28 years old me (due to the tragedy that befell on my family at that time) , i would like to combine my new year and birthday resolutions from next year, 2015. Also, Combining resolutions or having one set of resolutions to follow could be lesser complicated, easier to refer and follow :) Till then i am continuing the resolutions noted below as done earlier :)

 1. Wake up early every day. Be a morning person. J

Photo Credit ~ Google
*** (Exceptions: Weekends - When I have to watch one of my favorite shows: ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ which is aired quite late at night or some interesting stuffs on T.V ‘plus’ days when I have some get-together and outings); (This was 70 - 80% successful [I am quite proud of myself ;)] and I should follow this resolution more strictly the coming year) 

2. Do your Prayers and Meditations DAILY without feeling lazy;  (Whenever i woke up early, i could do it. Did the Evening Prayers and Meditation daily though)

3.    Join a Yoga Class;

Photo Credit ~ Google

(I have joined a Yoga Class at Nehru Wangchuck Cultural Center :) ~~~ but couldn't continue because of the time pressure. - I am going to do Yoga at home (I Learnt some yoga posture) starting 2015 ;)

4. Wash your face and brush your teeth every night ( I know I sound like a kid here but I have never been able to fulfill this resolution seriously esp. during winter L);  Successful ;)

5. Go to parlour every month (I do this without fail but I have noted it here because I want to continue doing it J);

6.   Buy and read more books (Read at least one book in a month);

 1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - (Read for the second time :)) -                                                                   October, 2013
2. The Trip to Nowhere by Sivasankari -    November 2013
3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri -          December 2013
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho -            January 2014
5. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini - February 2014
6. The End of Innocence by Moni Mohsin - March 2014
7. The Fault in our Stars by John Green - April 2014
8. Personality Development by Swami Vivekananda - May 2014
9. Wish Upon a Star by Sarah Morgan - June 2014
10. Read No Books - July 2014 :(
11. Paper Towns by John Green - August 2014
12. Like it Happened Yesterday by Ravinder Singh - September 2014
13. For the sake of a precious life by Dorji Wangdi - September 2014
Yay!!  Read 12 books

14. To kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - November, 2014
15. Half girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat - December 2014

7. Don’t talk about people behind their back/ Avoid gossips and groups involved in gossiping; Successful

8. Start a Gratitude journal, note all the things you are grateful for every day (could be simple things that happened and mishaps which could have happened but did not happen) (COMPLETED & I update it everyday with the things i am grateful for)

9. Avoid Eating Meat/ Drinking alcohol and any alcoholic beverages/ Tobacco of any kind including pan masala/ Doma at least one day in a week (could be Mondays as i do currently) and on all auspicious days ; Successful

10. Be Kind but be firm enough to say NO when you don’t want to instead of making excuses and lying (Always been a BIG problem for me L)Successful

11. Buy chocolates/sweets for kids (any Kids in the neighborhood) once a month; (Except for July, the reason mentioned in the article

12. Help Apa and Mommy when there are lots of work at home (esp. during cultivation times); (Yes i did it!!!)Successful

13Be financially independent. (Stop asking money from Apa and Mommy LSuccessful

14. Make more time for your family and be good to them/ Buy them good giftsSuccessful

15. Increase your weight to 55 Kg; (I weigh 54 kgs now and i have decided not to put on further, because i look and feel healthy now, i don't want to look fat :))

16. Visit Monasteries at least once a month and donate for good causes as much as you can.  
Boudha, Swayambhunath, Namo Buddha and Pasupaninath temples in Nepal - October, 2013; Changangkha Lhakhang, Thimphu  - November, December 2013, January 2014 ; Anim Dratshang and Lord Shiva Mandir (Samtse) - February 2014; Dechenphug Lhakhang and Pangrizampa, Thimphu - March 2014, Changangkha Lhakhang - April 2014, Kaali Ghat Mandir in Kolkata, India - May 2014, Anim Dratshang, Memorial Chorten and Zangtopelri, Thimphu - June 2014, Buddha Point, Thimphu - July 2014, Anim Dratshang and Pangrizampa, Thimphu - August 2014. Mebar Tsho, Jampa Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang and Tamshing Goenpa in Bumthang Bhutan, Kilila Goenpa and Kadam Goenpa in Mongar Bhutan - September 2014; Anim Dratshang and Changangkha Lhakhang - October, 2014
Successful and feeling proud ;)

Tango and Chari Monastery in Thimphu Bhutan - November 2014

(Donations -  every month to the Ability Bhutan Society and Tshey Chainga Group)  Successful and feeling proud ;)

17. Don’t throw waste/ don’t allow anyone (at least people who are with you) to throw waste and litter the environment; Successful and i need to do more about this :)
18. Cry Less ( As a very sensitive  person, I feel like I cry too much Successful ~~ I have become a much emotionally stronger person, i feel proud again :)

19.  Learn something new every day; Successful, yes i learnt something new everyday ~~~ I want to continue doing this.
20. Strive to be a better and better you every day;Successful, yes i am a better person than i was and i will be a more better person in the days to come :)