Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League is an autobiography that chronicles the life of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who went from the slums of Santo Domingo to living in a New York City homeless shelter to becoming valedictorian at Princeton.
In Part I, "Childhood," on page 43, the author recalls seeing his mother hunched over in a corner of the shelter, coughing up phlegm and blood. What she had first thought to be a cold was clearly something worse. The symptoms meant that her, Dan-el, and the rest of their family had to be tested for tuberculosis (also known as TB). Her test came back positive.
Tuberculosis mainly affects the lungs and is characterized by fatigue, fever, chest pain, night sweats, excessive coughing, unintended weight loss, and coughing up blood. It spreads through tiny airborne droplets when someone sneezes or coughs. It reached its peak in the US between 1985 and 1993, partly because of an increase in HIV cases, which weakens the immune system's ability to fight TB.
The mother's treatment was a steady regimen of rest and antibiotics, which ultimately led to recovery, albeit slowly, but not without the usual loss of appetite that resulted in her significant weight loss. By page 44, she had regained much of her health, but understood now the urgency of getting her family out of the shelter, which served as a breeding ground for diseases like TB.