’Plain nurse shares her TB story

Staff nurse Belinda Arendse shares her Tuberculosis (TB) journey.

As she enters her last month of treatment, a Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) nurse shared her experience of having tuberculosis (TB).

She did so on World TB Day on Thursday March 24 which is marked annually to raise awareness of the global epidemic.

TB is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs.

Staff nurse Belinda Arendse, 51, spoke to patients at a health education session at the centre, in line with this year’s theme – Invest to end TB. Save lives – to convey the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB.

Monique Johnstone, principal communications officer, for the Western Cape health department’s Klipfontein / Mitchell’s Plain substructure, said the department’s efforts to combat TB were well under way, however, the Covid-19 pandemic had reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB.

When Ms Arendse developed TB symptoms, among them night sweats, coughing, weight loss, and fever, she immediately went for screening and a test at the Eastridge clinic.

Bloods were taken and she was sent for an X-ray to confirm her suspicion that she had contracted TB.

Her results were positive and was immediately placed on treatment

“I am currently on my last month of TB treatment and I am feeling stronger and excited to end my treatment,” she said.

“I had to take my medication daily for six months and came for my monthly examination at the Eastridge clinic,” she said

Ms Arendse said initially, the medication had made her nauseous.

“But I know the importance of taking it so I can be cured. I encourage people to take their medication daily for the six-month period and don’t stop until their treatment is complete. Your body will get stronger and you start feeling much better – but don’t stop until you are cured of TB,” she said.

“Many people stop their treatment when they start feeling better and then they start feeling sick again and would need stronger medication and their body can become resistant to the medication, which sets them back and can make them sicker,” said Ms Arendse.

The department encourages people to stick to their treatment plan and ensure that they attend their monthly appointments at the clinic and provide the correct contact details so that their health care workers can provide support and care.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre health promoters Caroline Kompe-Balintulo, Lynn Leonard, operational manager Yolando Samuels, facility manager Amanda Hansen, staff nurse Belinda Arendse and health promoter Chillestine Hackley.