‘I was diagnosed with TB of the bone’

“I saw how God works in our lives in ways that we do not expect.”

This is Gina’s reflection after she was diagnosed with Pott’s disease or bone TB, a form of tuberculosis that affects the spine, long bones, and joints.

TB is the 6th leading cause of deaths in the Philippines with around 28,000 Filipinos dying of it every year, the World Health Organization reported in 2011. TB awareness is done worldwide every March 24. TB primarily affects the lungs, but in some cases, like Gina’s, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Instead of losing hope, Gina saw the silver lining to her condition. She believes that having Pott’s disease is God’s way of calling her attention. “I am faithful to Him but there came a time when I got too busy to pray to Him or to even go to church. I was doing numerous works as a volunteer and health worker even on a Sunday, which is supposedly His day,” Gina says.

Gina underwent medication for a year. She is cured but her experience changed her forever. “It was a life-changing moment for me.”

 

TB symptoms

“When I learned I have TB, I was a little apprehensive but somehow happy because I wouldn’t be guessing what I had,” Gina recalls.

Prior to her diagnosis, she noticed her sudden loss of weight and how she easily got tired, things that she previously did not experience. “One day while I was doing laundry, I picked up a pail and heard a crack at my back. I ignored it at first but after a few days I was in extreme pain that I decided to go to the hospital.”

After a series of tests, what she thought was a simple back problem was Pott’s disease. The doctors advised her to undergo TB medication. “I was taking two types of medicines. One has a dosage too strong that after taking it, I was too dizzy to move.” Due to the fragility of her condition, Gina stayed home for a year doing medication. As a health worker for years, she is too familiar how TB must be addressed.

Gina noticed how Pott’s disease affect her physically. Months after she was told she had bone TB, she couldn’t move her hips down to her feet. She’d become much thinner and smaller. Soon after, she couldn’t even move her arms. “I was in pain if I do so,” she says.

Gina remembers the saddest moment of her life was when she was almost paralyzed. “I was bedridden. I couldn’t move my body. There was a point that my relatives would take turns bathing me. Death then seemed so near that there were times I cried especially when I see my son. I always prayed ‘Lord, my son is too young. Don’t take me from him, please’,” she shares, wiping away the tears in her eyes.

God’s power

Her illness renewed her faith in God. “I saw how God’s hands move in my life. Whenever I needed something, He would provide. One time, the doctor told me that I must buy body support, a sort of metal brace that would protect and support my back and avoid breaking my back bones further or become hunchback. The brace would cost P6,000. I had no money that big. I was really in dire need at that time. I asked a friend working abroad for help. He gave me a P10,000! Her wife, who is in Bohol, helped facilitate the transfer.” Health workers in rural villages earn between P500 – P1000 a month

Gina also realized how her situations would show her how lucky she is to have a loving family, friends, and co-workers. “It is in your deepest moment that you’ll know who your friends are.”

Unfailing medication, rest and faith in God cured Gina.

“I thanked God for every provision He gave me that year. Truly, He is the God of everything.”

Gina continues to do volunteer works, even for World Vision, and do her tasks as a health worker. Gina advice people that if they feel something is not quite right with their body, immediately visit a doctor. Family support is very helpful. “And God first before anything else,” she says.

 

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