I’ve had a bout of malaria for the past few days. I don’t want to over-romanticize it. I wasn’t lying in a feverish haze on a straw mat under a palm tree, slipping in and out of consciousness and hovering near death. I didn’t need to be hospitalized. I didn’t even see a doctor.
But I will tell you that malaria sucks. And it’s an odd feeling, knowing you have a disease which, if you allow it to spread unchecked, has a good chance of killing you.
For me, the symptoms started with aching muscles. But I had been riding in the truck over bumpy roads for three days, and I figured aching muscles were nothing unusual.
I was also extremely cold. But here in Zambia, the rainy season is over, and it’s turning to fall-like weather, and I’ve always gotten cold easily. I figured I had just been hot for so long that a reasonable temperature felt cold.
Then the aching got worse, and started to spread to muscles that had nothing to do with riding in the truck. Like the muscles that move my eyeballs. The cold spread, too, so that by the time we got home Sunday night I was shivering.
So I pulled on my flannel jammies and dove in bed, even though it was only 7pm.
By midnight, the chills had turned to fever. I was stiff and sore all over. I slept fitfully, and at 7am I got up, took some ibuprofen, drank a cup of tea, took a steaming hot bath (the chills were back by then) and climbed back in bed.
Meanwhile, Janine gave me a malaria blood test, which was inconclusive. She checked the internet, and the local pharmacy, for the right amount of the right medicine for my symptoms, and made sure I drank plenty of water.
After a five hour nap, I got up, drank some more tea, took some more ibuprofen, and sat around painfully, trying not to spoil Sean’s 11th birthday. I watched him assemble his totally awesome LEGO Helm’s Deep set, and then we watched Two Towers. Then I slept for another 12 hours.
Tuesday was basically a repeat of Monday – wake up, tea, bath, nap, tea, sleep. That’s one thing about malaria: you just want to sleep all the time. At least the ibuprofen kept the body-ache and the fever-delirium to a minimum. I even managed enough concentration to read a book.
Today, Wednesday, is a public holiday in Zambia. So I’ve bought myself one more day to recover. The malaria treatment regimen is three days, so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be back to my old self.
But, lest we forget, we are all infected with a disease which is spreading unchecked through our bodies, and which will eventually end in our death. Short the glorious return of Jesus, the death toll for the human race will ultimately rise to 100%. We can try to make decisions that will help us prolong and improve that life, but the time and manner of our passing are not ours to choose. As Gandalf tells Frodo, “…that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Thanks to all who heard about my illness and prayed for my recovery. It seems those prayers are being answered. Please continue to keep our family and our work in your prayers, until we all reach the finish line. May God’s blessing and mercy be with you all.