Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“There are more people dying of malaria than any specific cancer.” — Bill Gates

There are no words to truly describe how it feels to have malaria.  Words that are used include severe headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, chills, nausea, and with cerebral malaria you add convulsions and hallucinations.  Almost everyone has had one of these at some time, sometimes even two in combination, but when you have them all, all the time, it is not nice.  Healthy adults rarely die, but 3,000 small children die every day from it.  It kills pregnant women in high numbers as well as the elderly, and if your immune system is fighting some other illness, malaria added to it will be lethal.  The parasites explode the red cells in your blood so that even after the symptoms disappear, it takes a month or more to get back up to full strength.  Although we both had multiple cases of malaria in the first couple of years here, neither of us has had it in over five years, so we thought we were immune.  Sadly, it keeps mutating (there are over five different kinds) and becomes more and more resistant to drugs.  Both Karen and I are lucky in that a new drug, Artequick, available here, kills the parasites in 24 hours, and after just three days of medication, it is gone, and only the residual fatigue remains.  I am on my fourth day after three days of medication and feel better than I have in a while.  Still, after feeling like death would be a wonderful release for three days, just not feeling that horrible can feel good.  We got to Karen’s quickly and she is not suffering quite as much.  A few months ago, we had glass windows installed on our house and they were not completely sealed, so mosquitoes were getting in around the edges—the windows have been completely sealed in the last two days.  We really appreciate the prayers and support of our friends and family, but this is a major issue that is killing millions.  We are so glad the United Methodist Church has made this one of their fights as well.  They attacked it with “Nothing but Nets” and now have another initiative in motion.  Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.  We have seen twelve small children living near us die in the last four years.  Every one of our staff is out several times a year with it and all have lost loved ones to it.  I hate malaria.  I love everyone who is fighting to get rid of it.
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