My name is Tay-tay Taylor, I immigrated to America in 2003 at the age of 16, and I was positive with Tuberculosis because I came from the Philippines. Before they allowed me to land in America, I had to do a skin test and chest x-rays even though I didn’t know what tuberculosis was. When I got here I stayed with my parents in Los Angeles. A week after the skin test cleared, my mom had enrolled me in school. I felt left out and scared because I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t speak English well. High school was also tough with the bullying I experienced because of my sexuality. I felt humiliated and alone so I never went back to school. My transition as a transgender person was not easy. I had a hard time getting a real and stable job and I ran away from home. In 2007 I started doing crystal meth and became a prostitute which put me in danger. Meeting with different men for money and drugs just so I can put myself in a hotel room and to be able to call a place home and feel safe.
A decade later, I got diagnosed with aids and pneumonia in December of 2017. I was really sick. I couldn’t get up. I often had high fevers and nasty night sweats. I was so dehydrated that my skin began to shred. I was scared for my life I felt that my life would end that way. Then one day I woke up and found myself in the emergency room of The General Hospital in San Francisco.
They found out that I have a huge mass in my chest that was blocking my airflow. Nurses starting to come in with masks on and wearing medical gowns. That made me wonder what is it in me that makes me sick. I had countless high fevers and night sweats. I stayed in the hospital for three weeks and during that time, they performed numerous tests on me.
They did sputum test once a week which I had a difficult time doing. They also did a bronchoscopy, which is something I enjoyed because I got to see my lungs on the monitor. I was so amazed to see what my lungs looked like. But unfortunately, I continued to get sicker. It took them a week to tell me that it may be lung cancer. But the doctor said that we have to do a lung biopsy and that they had to put me to sleep while they did the biopsy. It all worked out after that biopsy and I got to go home. Later in January of 2018, they found out that it was actually Tuberculosis. I was relieved that it’s not cancer. The TB clinic in San Francisco told me I need to be in isolation which made me so upset and I did not know how serious this disease is at the time.
The first night that I was on medication, I start having nausea and that continued for numerous nights. I found a home remedy for nausea, I discovered that burnt toast helps my nausea. The darker the toast, the better. While I was in isolation, there were times that my friends would come by and hang out with me. I really appreciated them coming to visit me. They know that they are putting themselves at risk when they did. I had asked them a lot of times to go and get tested for TB but my friends were hard-headed. They did not care if I got them sick and these are my friends who still got high on drugs and were still selling their body for money. So I told them, “if they are not willing to go get tested after coming to my house, then don’t even bother coming to the house.”Some girls don’t worry about their well-being but I did. I care because they are my friends and I care about their well beings and want to role model to them that it is important to care for ourselves.
Through those four months of isolation, I watch numerous TV shows on Netflix and YouTube. I got really depressed while I was isolated but the disease helped me and motivated me to stop doing drugs. I learned to help myself to heal and my body to rest. While I’m stuck at home I realized that I need to focus on moving forward and better myself. This is a tragic experience that I used for a positive outcome. Now that I’m out of isolation,
I started going to school to get my GED. and go forward with life. Through the general hospital treatment, I met wonderful people that helped me to get better. We went to the National TB Conference and met the other wonderful survivors who motivate me more to help others, especially those who may be fearful of their treatment. Today is May 30th, 2018 and I am still in treatment. I have a couple of months to go before I finish the treatment and for my aids virus, I am now undetectable.
I’m started to do some volunteer work in one of the Trans access group here in San Francisco at The Asian Pacific wellness center. I volunteered to facilitate the group and became a leader. We talked about different topics. like “what is your dream job” and “what are the challenges to get that job you dreamed of”?.
On 24th of June, I volunteer to join the San Francisco community health center at the pride parade float.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope I inspire someone with it. My story is from my heart…