"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

our first bout with malaria

Thank you all for praying for Brian. It is sure a blessing to be able to send a message from Zambia, Africa around the world and have people praying on every continent!

Just how serious is malaria? Luckily we are in an area that does not have the most serious kind, cerebral malaria. There are four strains. I am not sure which strain Brian got. He was so cold yesterday when I did the blood test I couldn’t get a good sample, and didn’t want to use up extra tests. His symptoms were definitely malaria, so doing a test was more for practice of how to use them.
Malaria is pretty serious, especially if you are an ex-pat or a child or malnourished already. Ex-pats are considered at higher risk because they usually aren’t in a malaria area long enough to build any resistance to it. Since we have already been here 3 ½ months, it’s not as bad as say, if it were the first week. I don’t know how it works, but the longer you are in a malaria zone, you actually develop a resistance to it. Children are obviously just smaller and may not be as strong to fight it. And if you are already underfed and malnourished (eating rape and nshima every meal isn’t exactly a balanced diet), you can imagine it will do a lot more damage than to someone who is healthy. BUT, it is treatable and responds well to medication. Within hours of the first dose you do start to feel better.
I have never understood how they do large statistics-saying 10 million new cases of malaria and 2 million die… I don’t know if those are just confirmed cases, or if they figure an average or what. But it seems everything here is malaria. Got a fever? It’s malaria. Joints ache, it’s malaria. Got a headache? It’s malaria. They really don’t get many of the other sickness we in the states get, so they are scared that everything is malaria. Two students thought they had it last week, but didn’t. You aren’t exactly jumping around and doing work if you have malaria and they were!
Where did he get it? Probably in Lusaka. Some of the areas we go to for supplies aren’t exactly the neatest. There is standing, dirty water. He (or we) have been in town at least once a week since we got here, so it’s highly probable he got it there. It takes 11-15 days on average to show up, but can take up to six weeks. One Pastor friend got it in Mozambique two years ago and it didn’t show up for a couple of weeks later in the States.

So what does it feel like? How about the worst flu you’ve ever had?! Not flu like stomach flu, but influenza. It started with just a sense all day that he didn’t feel right. Down in the shop it felt like something hit him. He came home, had a sandwich and laid down. We have a homeopathic malaria med, DEMAL 200, that is used as a preventative, and can also be used as treatment. So we started following the directions for treatment. Within about 20 minutes, he was freezing under 4 blankets, sweets and a sweatshirt. Demal actually kicks your immune system into gear to start fighting the parasite, so it speeds up the actual malaria process a bit. Without it may have taken longer to get to that point. Every muscle, joint, and other part hurt. Hurt like you can’t believe. At this point he wasn’t really nauseous. If you aren’t freezing cold and throwing up, you probably don’t have malaria the doctors here would say. After freezing for an hour or so and continuing treatment, he switched to burning up. We kept with the treatments and he did a lot of sleeping. He took some vicodin for the pain before I climbed into bed for the night too. Through the night he wasn’t too warm, but then got real cold again early this morning. I don’t think we had kept with the Demal long enough. About 4 am he got up to go to the bathroom and threw up. After that, we switched to one of the other malaria medications we got here (you just buy them from the chemist (pharmacist) and keep on hand). I also gave him promenthenize (sp?) for nausea and some liquid vicodin for the pain. He has basically been sleeping since then. I am trying to keep the kids quiet, but well, there are 7 of them! He sat up for awhile had a cracker and a sprite, then went back to sleep.
He got out of bed for a warm shower (did I mention we are borrowing a 40 gallon water heater so we get warm water for showers?! At least when there is enough water in the tank to get good pressure), some soup, pop and then tea. He has already been up reading emails (thanks again for your prayers!), and right now he is drop planting some flower seeds outside. John and Witness were not going to leave until they say him, so he stepped out to say hello before they had left.
Malaria hits you hard, but thankfully the medicine hits hard too! Keep praying for a full, quick recovery. Knowing him, he will start to feel better, do too much work and get run down. Pray he is able to take the rest he needs to fully recover and get his strength back.

It doesn’t make him feel any better, but really, we are glad it was him who got it first, not one of the kids. Now we know better what to look for. We will also be better able to diagnosis the students too.

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