Sangram Songekar, a 30-year-old staff nurse from a rural government hospital in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, was given this shattering news by his doctors in April 2015. Soon after diagnosis, Songekar’s condition became so serious that from being a healthy young man, he became a bag of bones, weighing a mere 45 kilo in no time.
But, Songekar’s is a classic case which emphasis that if you remain calm and positive, then medical miracles do happen.
It was in April 2015 when Songekar found that the first line of drugs to treat the disease was not working on him and the TB bacilli he was carrying was resistant to 12 of 13 available antibiotics.
“I was initially put on first line drugs for TB after being diagnosed in December 2014. When symptoms like fever, weight loss, and cough didn’t subside even after three months of treatment, my friend who worked in Sewri TB Hospital asked me to come to Mumbai, where I met Dr Lalitkumar Anande, the chief medical officer,” said Songekar.
On Anande’s advice, Songekar underwent GeneXpert test (GeneXpert machine is used for test done to find out drug resistant form of tuberculosis in two hours), which revealed he had drug resistant form of TB. While he was put on multi-drug-resistant TB treatment, it took three months for him to get the report of sputum culture test from Hinduja Hospital.
“Being from medical field, I knew what Hinduja Hospital’s sputum culture report meant for me. I knew that the bacteria being sensitive to only one drug, I had no choice,” said Songekar.
While doctors put him on combination of seven drugs, he said he had suicidal thoughts as both, mentally and physically, the disease had overpowered him then.
“That is when Dr Anande stepped in. He gave me example of Indira Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose who had tuberculosis and fought it bravely. He said strong willpower and diet are as important as medicines in defeating the disease. I followed his instructions and now I motivate other TB patients for the fight,” said Songekar.
He confessed that first six months were most difficult time of his life as he had to stay away from his two-year-old daughter.
“I had to take 14 tablets daily. The side effects of drugs left me with severe body ache. Sitting or standing was also a task. I vomited. But the biggest task was to stay away from my daughter. While I stayed in Kolhapur, my wife, who is also a staff nurse in the same hospital, stayed with our daughter in staff quarter in Parbhani,” said Songekar.
He said he spent his days watching videos on positive thinking and law of attraction.
“I had to beat the negativism that the disease had brought along. I ate a high-protein diet which included 3 raw eggs, 1 to 2 litre of milk, 1 glass of lemon water, a dozen of bananas every day, along with normal food. I started playing volleyball for two hours every day. I also ensured I spent time in sunlight to get vitamin D,” said Songekar.
Gradually, Songekar said he started gaining weight.
“The last 16 sputum tests have been negative. I have conquered the disease. I cannot wait to welcome 2017 as a TB survivor. I can now play with my daughter, feed her without any fear,” said Songekar. With three more months of treatment left, Songekar, who now weighs a healthy 80 kilo, said he is waiting to resume work.
“I have been granted special leave for TB treatment. I know I have got the disease while serving patients, but that is not a deterring factor to resume work. I have now set an example for TB patients that it is a 100% curable disease. One needs to have strong willpower and have protein-rich diet, along with medicines to conquer it,” said Songekar.