Despite my top-of-the-line mosquito net, DEET repellant, and my daily dosage of anit-malarial drugs, I have somehow contracted malaria. The leading killer in Eastern Congo has now taken over my body. After a week of intense headaches rivaling migraines topped off by a sour stomach which prevented eating, I reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital. Reluctant because I had previously visited this primitive compound and was well aware of conditions there. Without going into detail, I’ll say that it leaves much to be desired regarding safety, sanitation, cleanliness, and comfort.
Nonetheless, my housemates insisted that I get tested and the results revealed not only Malaria, but also, a worm in my stomach. Actually, the doctor referred to it as a “Nyota”…swahili translation: snake. Ah, yes. I have a snake in my body. Very comforting.
So how am I feeling? In all truthfulness, I cannot remember a time when I have felt so miserable. My bones and muscles ache to the point where it is impossible to find a comfortable position in which to rest. Although the headaches have subsided, the fever continues as does the vomiting and diarrhea, no doubt my body trying to rid itself of this parasite in my blood. Yet, I have begun the typical five-day course of treatment and as of day four, I am finally beginning to feel a bit of relief.
Somehow throughout all this, God is graciously allowing me to recognize how blessed I am. I know that sounds bizarre, so allow me to explain:
- I am blessed to have the resources to get adequate treatment and medication.
- I am blessed because unlike the Congolese, my absence from work does not put my job in jeopardy nor does it threaten my financial stability.
- I am blessed to have a houseful of other wuzungu (white people) who have walked this path before and are able to encourage me on my road to health.
- I am blessed because in addition to her prayers, Mama Furaha has been making me a special passionfruit elixir, which is promised to fight the fatigue and restore energy to my body.
- I am blessed to have several students drop by to extend their sympathies for my suffering and bid me “Courageaux”… translation: have courage.
- I am blessed because the illness has allowed me a small glimpse of what the Congolese suffer on a daily basis.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement as well. I hope to have my strength back soon and share about some of the other things that are happening here in Beni.