You don’t hear a lot about tuberculosis in modern Australia and I thought quarantine was only for immigrant pets. But 27 year-old ad sales rep Christiaan van Vuuren is all too familiar with both. He’s spent the last 12 weeks in quarantine in a Sydney hospital after he began coughing up blood in a meeting on December 9 last year.
Doctors found a hole in his lung the size of a 50-cent piece and identified the disease as tuberculosis. They suspect Christiaan contracted it during his travels to South Africa or South America. He left hospital a couple of weeks later but was brought back almost immediately when doctors discovered he was infected with a drug-resistant strain of TB that was extremely rare in the developed world.
Doctors still don’t know when he’ll be released. To pass time and stop himself from going batshit crazy, he began making rap videos in his quarantined hospital room and they’ve gone, well, viral.
In SMH online, Asher Moses reports:
Christiaan van Vuuren has been holed up in quarantine in a Sydney hospital for months but in many ways he’s more connected to the outside world than ever. Before being struck down with a multi-drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis in December last year, van Vuuren did not have a Facebook profile or Twitter account and had barely used YouTube.
But, after two stints in a hospital ward, the second of which is showing no immediate signs of ending, the 27-year-old Sydneysider has become an online whiz with a following that would leave many internet celebrity wannabes breathless. Now known as the “Fully Sick Rapper”, van Vuuren and his hospital-themed parody rap songs, created using little more than the standard software and features on his Apple MacBook Pro, are generating online buzz around the world.
His most popular music video, Life in Quarantine, has amassed more than 280,000 hits on his YouTube channel and several hundred thousand more on CollegeHumor.com. More than 6000 people have signed up to be van Vuuren’s fans on Facebook, while close to 2000 follow him on Twitter.
“The only ways I’d use the internet when I came in here was for email and whereis.com and finding out where I have to go, what I have to do, but now as a result of being in here in quarantine and [physically] separated from the rest of the world, I … am more accessible and in touch with the world than I ever have been before,” he said in a phone interview.
He now gets a constant stream of supportive messages from people all over the world, and some fans have been so caught up in his “Fully Sick Rapper” alter-ego that they send him photos of themselves acting out scenes from his videos. “It’s made my time in here so much easier because the thing I was most worried about with this is I could potentially waste months of my life and I’m glad that that hasn’t been the case,” he said.
He says he only started making the videos to pass the time in hospital and keep in touch with his mates on the outside. But he had to upload his first clip, I’m not sick, but I’m sick sick, to YouTube because it was too difficult to send it around on email.
Doctors are unable to tell him when he will be released.
In the meantime, he plans to continue churning out his YouTube raps. He has also begun selling T-shirts online, promising all proceeds will go towards the World Health Organisation’s fight against TB.
“I’ve got to stay in here as long as it takes to get a clean result from the tests … I could be out of here in three weeks, I could be out of here in six weeks, I could be out of here in six months,” he said.
How do you deal with being sick? Have you ever had a long period of illness? I often wonder how women who are put on bed rest during their pregnancy handle that….anyone?