The week I had Malaria

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It started out like any other week really. School, lesson plans, basic life in Haiti. Sickness had been streaming through the Brook’s household. Tia had been sick the weekend before with a fever, sore throat, vomiting- the works. Ben, Kara and a few others had been touched with the same thing. So when I fell sick, it seemed like the same virus that had been going around. Sore throat, fever, and nausea is how it started Thursday night. I wasn’t willing to fight it on my own so when Martha offered me amoxicillin, stating it had helped everyone else, I gladly accepted the horse pills. However Thursday night my fever spiked to 104.5 which really worried Lala who stayed in my room to watch over me.

Over the course of the next few days my sickness went on a roller coaster ride. I spent most of the time in bed but my fever came and went. My body aches would be miserable and then nonexistent. There were days when I felt I was getting better and days when I swore I was getting worse. My bad headache remained constant, but in general it felt like a simple bad case of the flu with a weird fever. Nobody, myself included, was too worried about it though. Monday came and everything seemed to be getting better. I got out of bed, was able to shower and get cleaned up, even ate a full dinner at the table with the family. I was on the mend it seemed. Then Monday night happened. It was the worst night in recent memory. I tried not to move because my body ached so badly. My head attempted to pound out of my skull. I dry heaved until I cried and I had to sleep sitting up. By the light of Tuesday morning I knew I couldn’t handle another night like that. When Tia suggested going back to the states for help, I didn’t put up a fight.

A few hours, several rushed telephone calls, and a plane ticket later, my bag was packed and Amos was driving Lala and I to the Port Au Prince airport. I lay my head on her lap wondering out loud if I was being ridiculous and what everyone would think if I only had the flu. Lala tried to reassure me that this was the right decision. My pain had kind of subsided and my fever had broke so I truthfully felt like I was being over reactive going back to the States but at Lala’s prompting I got on the plane. It was a good thing I did too because I went downhill quickly. By the time I got off the plane I had hit a new level of sickness, one where I would spend the next several days praying for some relief. Getting off the plane in Miami, I knew my dad had flown down to meet me and I only had to go through immigration and customs to meet him, but that alone was a feet almost too much for me. By the time I had gone through the immigration line and made my way to customs, I felt like I was going to faint. Somehow I ended up on the bathroom floor in the airport where I would spend the next 30 minutes trying to regain the strength to go through the lines. I knew my dad was on the other side of the wall, which finally prompted me to get up and on shaky legs, get through customs.

Thankfully my dad was waiting right outside. I nearly cried when I saw him and collapsed into his side hug and told him I was so glad to see him. He immediately took over and got me some liquids and checked us into the airport hotel. I was having a high fever and very chilled so I crawled under the covers while he conferenced with my mom. He got me some chicken broth and cold compress. But it only took him a couple hours to deem me too sick before he took me to the hospital.

We only spent about 20 minutes in the ER waiting room. I could barely sit better yet stand. They brought me in the back and the next 24 hours is kind of a blur. I remember feeling and saying out loud that I would prefer death. I must have looked like death too by the concern etched on my fathers face. They drew so much blood from me I’m surprised it didn’t deplete my whole system. My first IV was put in and we stayed in the ER. I was in and out. I prayed for sleep. Anything to stop the agony. The doc’s came in (like 8 of them) and told me my blood platelet count was down at like 30,000 and that was scary low compared to the 150-450,000 it was supposed to be. Eventually they told me I had the most aggressive form of malaria and it had advanced significantly. They said they were putting me on some strong medicine in a second IV, that had the potential to mess with my heart rhythm and my blood sugar so they put me on a heart monitor and did EKG’s every 6 hours. They also took my blood sugar every hour. Needless to say I ran out of fingers for them to prick early on and it didn’t matter. I got moved to the ICU for closer monitoring.

Lots of wires!

ICU is pretty much a blur as well. I know many doctors streamed through and I kept getting pills shoved down my throat, EKG’s done, blood draw and my fingers pricked. My headache remained constant no matter what they did to alleviate it, but all my other complaints seemed to fade away as the drugs started doing their thing and kicking my malaria’s butt. With each passing hour I got stronger. By Friday I was able to walk across my room to the bathroom, was eating a little food and drinking on my own. Finally the doctor teams deemed me ready to be discharged. It was only a little over a week from beginning of symptoms to being discharged from the ICU but it felt like an eternity to me and everyone who cares about me.

My father was attentive and supportive the entire time. He wrote down every medicine, every time the doctor came in and everything I ate. He stayed up for 36 hours straight while I was in the ER. Then caught 20 minute naps in a very uncomfortable hospital chair for the next 12 hours. And even took a shower with a cup of water and a towel in the hospital bathroom so he didn’t have to check into a hotel and leave me. He kept in constant conversation with my mom who was in Nebraska holding down the fort. Every time she got an update she called her phone tree so everyone else got the update as well. I have had so many emails, calls, and FB messages- I know I am loved by many. Better than that was all the prayers. People from different churches, cities, states and even countries were all in prayer for me. Family members, friends and strangers joined together in asking for Pops to watch over me. He heard. I know God’s hand was over the situation and my mom can recount the many ways that His timing was perfect and His provisions saved my life.

My ICU set-up, the day I checked out

To everyone, thank you so much. Martha, thanks for taking care of me while I was in Haiti. Kathy thanks for helping make all the plans and preparations to get me back to the States. Lala, thanks for sleeping in water so you could watch over me. Jessie, thanks for helping make plans to get me home and all the travel arrangements. Mom thanks for keeping the whole team updated and Dad mentally stable. Dad thanks for- well everything. Everyone else thanks for the love and support and prayers.

Pops, thanks for always being with me.

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