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Posted on Dec 22, 03:28PM | IBNS
Pelvic tuberculosis is a less known disease that affects only women and results in infertility. US based health activist Jigna Rao elaborates to TWF correspondent Shoma A. Chatterji on this ailment from her own life experience
About four years back Jigna Rao's life fell apart as she was diagnosed with pelvic tuberculosis (TB) that ended her hope of ever becoming a mother. She lives in the US and is now cured of the disease. Since then, she has reinvented and redefined her life by working towards raising awareness about TB- even within the medical fraternity.
Rao shared her experience at the recently concluded 43rd World Conference on Lung Health and Tuberculosis held in Kuala Lumpur,. Rao's story goes back to 2006 when she failed to conceive after many frustrating attempts. She and her husband Prakash decided to consult an infertility specialist who put her on an infertility treatment plan without conducting other associated tests. The nine months of treatment were traumatic because it brought along hormonal changes following painful procedure but without results. "Then I decided to take a second opinion where the specialist said perhaps exploratory surgery would take care of the problem. But I could gauge from her attitude that something was worrying her though she could not put a finger on it," Rao recalls. Another nine months of investigative exploratory surgery and treatment followed. Then she was told she was suffering from pelvic TB. When she came out of her foggy state, it was only to hear that both her fallopian tubes had to be removed and it dawned on her that she could never have baby. "For me, it was like hearing my death sentence."
Rao was familiar with pulmonary TB back in India but had never heard of pelvic TB. Nor did it ever occur to her to connect TB with the affluent and the wealthy because, "In India, we understood that only the poor suffered from TB," Rao recalls. What is worse, in most cases of pelvic TB, which affects women alone, could go undetected for as long as 10 to 20 years. It produces no symptoms and as it advances, it affects the internal organs including the reproductive system. Had Rao not changed her infertility specialist or insisted on investigative testing, her case would have gone on undiagnosed and it would have been disastrous. "When my medical insurance ran out, I would have suffered from gradual decay of other organs that could cripple me and I might have died not knowing what happened," she explains. At one point, she also took riding lessons as a way of post-trauma therapy. "I would be paranoid about everything from just a sneeze or a cough or a cramp, so intense was my trauma," she remembers. But her supportive husband and family rallied around her and made it possible for her to come out of it. She began her career along new lines, developed new hobbies, and made new friendships. Her husband and she began to think about how they could create the family they so desperately wanted to have.