Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love & Malaria

Sending all our love to all of you for a
Happy Valentine's Day!

This little heart box was given to me by a Form I student after Art club one afternoon. Abdukarim created it using scraps of paper and glue. I cannot think of a more priceless gift! 8-)

 Well, I am celebrating this very special day with a chunk of Godiva dark chocolate & my first dose of an anti-malarial treatment. I was one of many people in the dispensary yesterday to get their blood test results: +mps. You have malaria.

I usually enjoy a high amount of energy, but for the last two weeks I was feeling really run down. No aches. No pains. Just no energy. After several days of not feeling well, I took my temperature because high fever is symptomatic of malaria. But it was only slightly elevated. Because we take a prophylaxis, I figured, “Well, it’s not malaria!”

Well, if it’s NOT malaria, then what is it? Perhaps all those weekends I worked overtime at school? Or it’s anticipatory grief about leaving Tanzania in July? Or it’s the stress of the million & one things we have to do before we leave Tanzania & the million & one things we have to do when we arrive back home in the USA? Or perhaps it is my increasing anxiety about stepping into the UNKNOWN once again? Or maybe it’s about growing gray, aging & dying? Or maybe it’s my fear telling me it WILL NOT climb 19,341 feet to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in July?

Many question marks. No periods. What is WRONG with me?

And so when I received my lab results yesterday, I was quite relieved because then I knew what my problem was. My symptoms are not psychosomatic. I really am SICK. I have unfriendly parasites swimming around in my bloodstream making my life miserable. I would not have been a happy camper if my blood test results were negative. At least now I can get treated & get well.

But what about all the other stressors in my life? Is there a pill I can take to reduce my workaholism? Or a shot I can get to eliminate my anticipatory grief? Or an antidote to my growing anxiety? Or a cure-all for all things UNKNOWN? Or a special tonic for aging boomers? Or a courage booster to overcome all needless anxieties?

Well, I probably could find stuff to relieve a lot of that. But then I would be a walking medicine cabinet.

What is life if it is not committing yourself to serving those in need? Or what is life if it is not feeling grief about leaving those you have come to love? Or what is life if it is not undergoing the pain of change & growth? Or what is life if it is not stepping out in faith? Or what is life if it is not becoming –real– like the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit? Or what is life if it is not overcoming senseless fears? Or what is life if it is not attempting to live your dreams or to achieve the impossible with the help of God?

Hopefully, the anti-malarial drugs will do the trick for me. But for the rest of my problems, I think I will just live one day at a time. Life can be pretty overwhelming & scary if you look too far ahead into that big UNKNOWN. But if you look into this very present moment you will not find fear ~ you will only find the face & grace of God!
…Be awake. Sing. Hold a moderate pace.
And try not to step out ahead of grace.

from “Amulet”
by Mary Bradish O’Connor
Before I sign out, I would like the whole world to know how much I adore my beloved husband, Earl. I am one lucky sweetheart! And I know it. 8-) Thank you, Earl, for sharing this great adventure, that is life, with me! Happy Valentine’s Day, Darling!


P.S. Here in Africa malaria continues to be a very SERIOUS & potentially FATAL disease! Malaria is preventable & treatable and according to Africa Fighting Malaria,
“[malaria] is still a leading cause of illness and death in Africa, Latin America and Southern Asia. The World Health Organization estimates up to 500 million cases of malaria annually around the world. Other scientists suggest as many as 660 million cases. The disease kills at least one million of those infected each year, which amounts to someone dying every 30 seconds. About 90% of these deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa, where P. falciparum accounts for over 90% of all malaria infections. Malaria primarily affects young children and pregnant women, whose reduced immunity makes them especially vulnerable.”

Now that I have malaria, I am growing in my understanding of the disease & developing a greater compassion for those who suffer with malaria. It is not uncommon for a student to tell me they have malaria & that they have begun treatment. In fact, just the other day Earl & I met Baba Patrick Mwaya, our pastor, in the village while we were on our way to school. He announced that he had malaria (again!) and that he is taking the Chinese anti-malarial. So malaria is like the common cold around here. It is treatable but you must be treated right away! The greatest tragedy lies in the death of so many helpless infants, children & pregnant women.

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