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The One Where I Get a Mosquito-borne Illness Before Leaving for Kenya…

June 21, 2012

Back in my hey day (as in, before kids), I worked as a lab tech.  I ran tests on blood, urine, and any other imaginable human fluid.  I loved it!  I miss it sometimes.  My jobs both in Washington and in Alaska were amazing.  However, three months before Levi was born, I retired and happily started a new career as one of those stay-at-home weirdos.  But, I’m still a nerd when it comes to the lab.  One of my secret dreams was to see a lab in a foreign country.  Today my dream came true, but I would’ve liked it to have been under different circumstances.

Yesterday morning I woke up with sore ankles.  My cold had drizzled to a cough, so I figured I had simply slept on them wrong.  A little odd that both of them hurt, but whatever.  It did make me walk like an old lady.  Wednesdays are my normal shopping days with Pepe, so I ran my errands as usual, ending up back at our house (versus the apartment where we’re currently sleeping) to meet Matthew for lunch while Pepe helped out with some of those projects.  (Our children were under excellent care at the apartment.)  I was telling him that my ankles were still surprisingly sore, almost getting worse, when I noticed my wrists were also sore.  And then Matthew pointed out my rash.  It covered my arms, chest and face, with a milder version on my torso.

I immediately called a local PA.  PA Niles is American, but she grew up in Congo, also spending time in Haiti, so she knows tropical medicine and five languages.  She asked if I had a fever.  “Oh no, of course not,” I responded ever-so-confidently.  She told me that she thinks is something called “Chikungunya,” a mosquito borne illness.  It normally presents with fever, but not always.  It’s self-limiting and will just make me miserable, so take Tylenol, get rest, etc.

An hour later I started getting chills.  By that evening, I was quite feverish, so I gave her another call.  She wanted to be sure to rule out malaria, so she really wanted to see me and get me tested in the morning.

So, I went to bed rather miserable, now wondering if malaria was a real possibility, and, once the newest dose of Tylenol kicked in, I fell asleep.

Three and a half hours later, I awoke with the urgent need to use the bathroom (because I had been good, drinking lots of water as instructed), except that I couldn’t move.  I was completely frozen with fever and my joints were screaming at me.  I lay there for, probably half an hour, trying to ignore my bladder and get warm enough to fall back asleep, to no avail.  I finally got up to use the restroom.  That was the longest 10 yard trek I’ve ever managed, I’m pretty sure.  By the time I got back, my moaning and groaning had awakened Matthew.  He got me more Tylenol and tried to get me warm again.  Once it kicked in, I fell back asleep.

Of course, it would be the night that both kids would have trouble sleeping, too.  (We checked, they’re not sick…we think they’re both actually going through growth spurts, based on the tons of food they ate today.)  Poor Matthew had to keep getting up while I was slightly delusional with fever.

Morning finally arrived and I tapped on my neighbor’s window to confirm our plans made the night before about driving me out to see PA Niles and go to the lab.  She opened the door with a surprised: she, too, was now sick with the exact same symptoms and her husband would drive us both down.  We took Amelia, while Matthew took Levi over to our house to work with him.  PA Niles commented how beautiful my bright red rash looked – very impressive.  She wrote out lab slips after our physical exams and we went over there.  When it was time for the the blood draw, my neighbor (who also happens to be the program manager for the DRC MAF program) came in, carrying Amelia, to translate.  He mentioned that I used to be a lab tech to the phlebotomist and she was very excited.  When she was finished with me, I poked my head into the adjoining room to get a quick glance at the lab.  She told me to go ahead and go check it out, yelling to the two lab techs that I used to be one, too.  One of them spoke enough English to give me a tour.  I must say, I was utterly stoked.  They only ran a few tests, and nearly everything was done manually.  Their largest instrument was the size of a shoebox (in the US we have instruments that are the size of small cars).  That being said, I recognized most of the equipment and remembered most of its use.  It was awesome and, for just a second, I forgot that I was in a terrible amount of pain in my joints and had a scorching fever.

The malaria test was negative and my other labs were normal.  Yay!  So, what’s the big deal now?  Ahhhhhh, remember in my last post I mentioned an exciting weekend?

Every year each of MAF’s programs around the world try to organize a family conference.  This is a time to regroup, have some R&R, an rebuild the team.  Some years it’s very basic, maybe only for a weekend, but this year is a big deal.  The entire DRC program, from all the bases around the country, are getting together for an entire week.  A team from a church in California is flying out to lead the activities, including some for youth and children.  The best part?  It’s at an all-inclusive resort on the beach…in Kenya.

So, Saturday morning we fly out to Kenya, pausing a night in Nairobi, and finishing the last leg to the resort town the next day.  We come home the following Saturday.  We are planning on an internet blackout while there, so try not to miss us too much.  I’m not sure, considering my energy levels at this point, that I’ll even have time to do another post before we go.

Please pray for safe travels, that I heal quickly (Wiki says my fever should be done tomorrow), and that we will have a relaxing vacay on the shores of the Indian Ocean!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. swankfamily permalink
    June 29, 2012 0829

    Hope you are feeling better now, Lisa!

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  1. My Hipster Post | The Linds in DR Congo with MAF

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