Some of you know I fell ill la few weeks ago. I felt relatively fine on Thursday, but early Friday morning I awoke with a fever of 101.4F. Not being one to usually get fevers, my mind immediately started making a differential diagnosis (a process we as doctors do to list possible diagnoses, and then make further questions or exams to narrow down the diagnosis). Cold? Flu? Malaria? I noticed I was shaking a bit-kind of like all my muscles were spasming at the same time (more clonic than tonic). Hmmm...maybe malaria. I raised my head from my pillow. Ough! And a major headache. Chalk another point up for malaria. I made it out to the couch and my housemate got me some water. I called in to the hospital to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in to work. After some blessed sleep, the fever started up again, this time up to 103.5F. While I knew I had a fever, I had chills and rigors, and so covered up with socks, my winter fleece, and two blankets-all tucked in like a burrito in the 80-85F house. Finally the fever broke. A rapid test for malaria was negative, and I had faithfully been taking my malaria prophylaxis, but I decided to take the treatment anyway. Having not grown up with recurrent bouts of malaria, the effects of the disease can be more severe, including severe anemia and other complications. It is not a disease I wanted to mess around with. After maxing out at 104F, the fevers finally started to come down, and by Sunday I was feeling better. Two different elders from the church had prayed over me during the weekend. One has a tendency to start to shout as he prays, so if the parasites hadn’t died from the CoArtem, then I am sure there were more killed by fright from the force of his voice. ;-)
However, Monday I still felt very tired, and still had a fever to 100.4F. I did some lab tests, which showed I had a moderate anemia, but no malaria was seen in my peripheral blood. I managed to do a few administrative things, and then returned home to rest. Much to my chagrin I had promised a neighbor I would make her a cake for her 15th birthday, which had to be done that afternoon. So I pulled together my “mom-force” (that strength that mothers use to take care of their young even when they have no strength whatsoever) and made her a cake, with some assistance from my housemate and neighbor.
Tuesday I tried to do some work at the hospital, but I was still feeling to nauseated to do much. Fortunately Mano, a visiting physician, was able to cover for me, and continued to do so the rest of the week. Since I still had the fever Monday, I started injections of artemether. The rest of the week I felt so nauseated and tired, all I wanted to do to was sleep, to escape the nausea. But with all that extra time, it gives you plenty of time to start thinking of other differential diagnoses. No need to consult WebMD, it’s all in my head. Fortunately my friends and colleagues were able to a)help calm my worries, and b) support my slightly hypochondriacal thoughts. But really, I don’t think I have felt so poorly
Finally, Saturday, I had a breakthrough-I felt well for the first time in weeks! I had energy, I was singing-it was great!! It was a little short-lived, as Sunday and Monday I was again tired, and a little nauseated, but much less than I had before.
The entire experience was a big challenge for me. Most of you who know me know I like to be independent and do things myself. Having to ask for help, to not feel up to making your food, much less eating it, and having to ask even to get something as simple as water was a big challenge. Especially as the person helping me most was my new housemate, Kate, who had only been here for about 3 weeks. I’m glad God provided me with a housemate, and one who is trained as a CNA, to help me during that time. It was also humbling to not be able to help out at the hospital. I had to give up control, and trust that things would be okay without me there (which is a proud thought, I admit, and thus why I needed the lesson). God provided someone to care for me, someone to provide care at the hospital, and a wonderful hospital staff who I know were praying for me and wishing me well.
(This is where I’d put a Bible verse, but my mind is blank in coming up with a fitting one. How about you post one in response?)