Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Merry "Malaria" Christmas?

I seem to have a knack for getting sick around a holiday.

Chickenpox came Thanksgiving Eve when I was just a little girl. Later, in my mid-teens,I sprained my wrist shortly before July 4th and my birthday (July 9th).

And then the most recent "celebratory" illness occurred this week. Sunday evening and Monday I was feeling "odd," which prompted me to go to a Jinja medical clinic. After having a blood test done, I was told I had "much" malaria in my blood.

I had been holding my breath (not in anticipation) for some time for my first encounter with this oh-too-common Ugandan illness, that at some point nearly every missionary here has to face. I right away began my medicine and wondered what I was in for in the coming days.

Female mosquitos are the carriers of the malaria parasites, which invade the human's liver and red blood cells. (BTW, male mosquitos are vegetarians, eating only plant nectar.)

"The parasite is relatively protected from attack by the body's immune system because for most of its human life cycle it resides within the liver and blood cells and is relatively invisible to immune surveillance." - Wikipedia

I have heard rather terrible stories about malaria and its range of symptoms. They can include fever, chills, joint pain (like your body was "run over by a Mack truck"), headache, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, general overall weakness, jaundice, convulsions, retina damage, and an enlarged spleen. If, however, malaria goes untreated it can progress to even graver symptoms and can be deadly. This is not a disease to mess with.

"There were an estimated 225 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2009.An estimated 655,000 people died from malaria in 2010, a 5% decrease from the 781,000 who died in 2009 according to the World Health Organization's 2011 World Malaria Report, accounting for 2.23% of deaths worldwide. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of deaths being young children." - Wikipedia

I did feel as if I had the flu for the last few days, but am so very thankful my symptoms were not as bad as some. I don't know why, and I don't know if it will be the same in future encounters.

I am feeling pretty "normal," or as normal as I can get. ; )

Right now, I am glad I will have a merry and malaria-free Christmas. Thank you so much to all who prayed for me - indeed God heard and answered! He is greater than any illness!

Information Source: Wikipedia
Photo Source: Microsoft Office Clipart


  1. I know I commented on FB, but this reminded me of something. Actually, 2 things... 1st, you and I have the same birthday. I didn't know that til I read it. I'll have to remember you when that day hits me again.

    The other: last time I was preparing to go to Uganda and help in Soroti, I went to a Dr. for a checkup. He said I needed to have a flu shot. I said, "WHY?" [I'm not a "shots" person.] He, who is from Nigeria, said, "So that if you begin to feel that you have the flu, but you've had the shot, you will know you have malaria." I said, "Oh." And had the shot. AND that's exactly what happened towards the end of that visit. Definitely God's kindness to me before I left here. B/c of the anti-malarial meds I was taking on a regular basis, the attack was sickening, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. But I really do watch out for anything attached to that sickness. Glad you are recovering fairly quickly. AND glad that in the past 20 years since I was involved over there the meds have increased in their strength to battle this... it really has made a difference.

  2. Oh Ruthie, I'm so glad you're all right! Have a healty, merry, Christmas! :)

  3. You aren't kidding about not messing with malaria! It sounds nasty! (Though I love it about you that you went and researched all the details of the disease [or already knew all the details of the disease] when you contracted it.)

    I am so glad that you are feeling better, and will pray that there will be no relapses before, during, or after Christmas!

  4. Joanne, cool, I have another birthday buddy! :)
    Though I felt like I had the flu, there were a couple of things that alerted me that it may be more than flu - my heart was racing and my symptoms were coming and going - like the 12-hour cycle of malaria. But I really think it was the Lord who prompted me it was malaria, because I have had flu-like symptoms here before and not malaria. Yes, I am very glad malaria treatments have improved so much!
    Thank you, Sarah! I am very thankful for God's healing!
    Yes, Mikaela, malaria can be quite dangerous. I had a missionary friend whose malaria progressed to cerebral malaria, causing her brain to swell. She was in ICU in the states. Unfortunately, they didn't have the medicine readily available in the U.S. like they do here and had to bring it from an entirely different state! She is fully recovered now and back in Uganda. :)
    I knew some about malaria, which is good, because it helped me to know what I might have had, so I could get tested.
    I am, too, very thankful I am feeling very fine in time for Christmas. :)