Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Third Time's The Charm?

Well, it appears that I have malaria.  Again.  This will make time #3.
I've been down in Freetown for awhile...almost a month believe it or not!! I keep having things delay me which has been a bit frustrating but actually turned out to be not a bad thing.  I met a new friend.  This is Deborah.  Isn't she pretty?  This is her in her  malaria-free days.  Oh the bliss.

Deborah has been in Sierra Leone for the last two months and is living and working in an orphanage.  On Thursday my friend and co-worker John got a call from Deborah.  She had been given his number by another missionary we know who was on her way out of the country.  Deborah wasn't feeling too well.  In fact, she was feeling pretty bad.  We told her to come over to the house and we would see what we could do for her.  Meanwhile John and I went to a clinic nearby and stocked up on everything we could think of to treat malaria (which we were pretty sure she had).  When she got to the house she was feeling pretty rough. We checked her and sure enough, she had the malaria.  So we started her on  treatment, gave her a fan and some cold water (nice amenities when you have a parasite in your body doing its best to kill you) and waited for the meds to work their magic

There are several different strains of malaria.  Deborah had falciparum, which is the bad one. It's the one that makes you feel like you're going to die.  I haven't yet had the privilege.  After a couple rough nights of uncontrollable vomiting, she slowly started improving.  She continued to stay with us at the house for a few days to rest up.

In the middle of the night on Saturday I was awakened to a strange man in my bedroom saying "Hey.  Emily!" The sleep cloudiness in my brain and the fact he was wearing a big rain jacket made me think it was this guy.
Minus the shovel of course.  And...sorry John. I call 'em like I see 'em

But turns out it was my friend/neighbor John who came to tell me that his wife Kaysie wasn't feeling well and the test showed that she too had malaria.  What!?!  Another one???  She too had the "bad strain" of malaria and we started her on treatment that night.  The next day she kept saying she was wasn't feeling too bad but in my mind I just kept waiting for the evening time....that's when it seems to get worse.  I'd seen Deborah struggling. I'd been with she and John when her husband got it a few weeks ago and was in the hospital. Just wait.

But last night we were marveling at the fact that her symptoms really were a lot milder!  She felt pretty nauseous and crummy one day and slept more than usual....but other than that, not too bad!  We're thinking it might have been because she was taking some prophylaxis (although not the recommended hem, Kaysie), maybe because she caught it so early, or maybe because she drinks a lot of cod liver oil. I know, she swears by it.  I think I'll take the malaria?

So last night I packed up all my stuff, ready to head back up country.  There have been two ladies covering the OB ward 24/7 for several weeks. One of them is waiting for me to come so that she can start her vacation.  They're tired.  I felt bad about my delay down here and was ready to get back up!

Then last night, at about 1am I woke up and was really nauseous, really restless.  Oh crap.  (Can missionaries say "crap?"  I'm never sure).  Oh Sugar O's. There, that's better.  I decided that with all this malaria floating around, I would go ahead and check myself.  The "control" line came out really clear, but the line for a positive for the falciparum strain (the bad one) was really really faint. Was it positive? I couldn't be sure. Was I reading into things?  I decided to just go back to bed and in the morning do another test and have John and Kaysie give me a second opinion.

This morning I felt fine. I was a little sleepy, but I'd laid awake for a couple hours thinking about what I was going to do if it really was, not surprising.  I did another test and it looked the same. I took it up to John and Kaysie and we went back and forth as to whether or not it was really positive. The first time I'd gotten malaria (not the bad kind) the same thing happened and I wasn't even sure if it was positive.  Well, until that night when I got a temp of 103.

We were debating about whether or not there really was a line there, in the "positive" area, when it went away.  Well, if it's clearly not there now (after the time is says it says you shouldn't read it because it won't be accurate) then it must have been there before.  We called it.  Positive.

I debated about going up anyway.  But this was my dilemma.  When John got it a few weeks ago he started out on the drive knowing he was sick but not feeling too bad. By the time he finished his 3ish hour drive he had stopped to pick up a policeman in case he passed out and couldn't walk by himself to the house when he arrived.  My drive is 7 hours, four of them on bad roads, and by myself.  But I had people waiting for me!!!

In the end, I decided to stay for the day.  Cerebral malaria is seriously one of my biggest fears here.  So I stayed.  I was skeert.  I started treatment this morning and am feeling fine. I got a little achy in my back but haven't been febrile and haven't really felt nauseous.  I started getting a little bit of a headache but that could be because of the movie watching/facebooking I've been doing today.  It is a bit of an odd experience just waiting to get sick.  Knowing that it tends to get worse in the afternoon/evening changes the decisions that you make.  "Hmmm...I don't feel sick now, but if I'm vomiting in a few hours, how is that going to taste taste coming back up?"  Skip the jerky, stick to the crackers.

Maybe I'm a hypochondriac.  I may or may not have been called that before.  (Although eh...hem Elisabeth "bone pain" is a real thing and was listed as a side effect on a commercial for a medicine!!!) I'm praying that instead of giving into any kind of hypochondriasm, I just caught it really early and am not going to get very sick!  The fact is, if there hadn't been all this malaria going around, that nausea in the middle of the night would not have been enough to make me test, so it probably would have been at least another day or two until I felt worse.  Thanks Jesus!!

Speaking of "all this malaria going around," if I hadn't spent 6 years and thousands of dollars to learn that malaria is spread by mosquitoes, I would swear  that it is contagious. Instead, we've decided that this little lady
I've named her Yolanda.  She must be stopped!

is flying around here infecting us all.  Kill and destroy!!!

So here's praying for a good, non-sick night and getting to go back upline tomorrow!! Thank you all already for praying for me!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Emily you make malaria sound fun! So glad you haven't been terribly sick! Glad I nagged you to take your pills...even though you didn't take them all the time. Love you Punkin!