Malaria

2011 August 30

August 18, 2011
Dear family and friends,

Lately I had an experience of getting very sick with malaria for a long time. I'm sure some of you are aware of this and were praying for me. I want you to know that I appreciate that you prayed for me very much.

Here is the story of what happened for those of you who are interested:

On Monday afternoon, August 1, I first started getting sick with a fever, so the next day I went to the hospital and got tested for malaria but the test came back negative saying that I didn't have malaria. On Wednesday I spiked a fever of 104.2! By Thursday morning I was pretty much sure that I had malaria because the fever kept coming and going so I went to the hospital again and got tested. This time the test came back positive for malaria. I started treatment right away with Coartem, a less severe drug then quinine, hoping that it would work. After almost 4 days of treatment, my fever started to disapate but then it came back again the following Monday evening (7 days after I first had signs of malaria). I got checked again and I still had malaria!

By this time I wanted to get on quinine treatment right away because of the dangers of having malaria for long periods of time. Quinine is the most potent drug that I know of against malaria. It has all sorts of really bad side affects, but the side affects are worth getting rid of the malaria. So Monday evening I started quinine treatment. Unfortunately, I did not do well on quinine treatment. I think it was partly because I had already been sick for a week with malaria and I had not been eating well for quite some time.

Tuesday noon I started not being able to keep food down. With quinine you have to eat lots of food in order to keep food down because the quinine makes you nauseous. That evening I tried eating again but vomited it right back up. So I took quinine on an empty stomach (not smart) but I thought at least I wouldn't vomit the quinine up if I didn't have anything in my stomach. A little later Jonathan made some highly sugared tea for me to drink. Quinine and malaria both tend to cause hypoglycemia so that's why I was trying to get some sugar in my system. I couldn't sleep well that night at all and vomited later during the night also. I was so nauseas and dizzy. My vision was blurry and I couldn't focus very well. Even my thoughts and dreams were all mixed up and I felt like it was impossible for me to make them more positive. At one point during the middle of the night I even thought Jonathan was walking around the room when he was really right beside me!

By Wednesday afternoon I still wasn't keeping any food down. I was worried about dehydration, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and electrolyte imbalances, which can all be serious. Therefore Jonathan and I went to the hospital and got me on IV quinine. At least this way I could get some fluids with the quinine. There was also some dextrose with the fluids so that would help to prevent hypoglycemia. Since I'm a nurse and know the dosage of quinine and how to manage IV etc. we decided to go home with the IV.

Wednesday night was not pleasant to say the least. I kept vomiting and my body started to tremble after I would vomit because I was so tired. I was so weak that I couldn't walk well. We prayed to God for courage and strength. We had been praying often ever since I started to get so sick. This helped me.

Thursday afternoon we moved from our home up to a place close to the hospital because we wanted to be closer to medical help if something serious happened. That same afternoon I tried to drink some salty broth and I kept it down! I was so grateful for that. From then on I didn't vomit anymore and was able to eat some amounts of food which really helped.

All this time my wonderful husband Jonathan was taking such good care of me. He turned into an excellent nurse! He did so much for me including managing my IV day and night, cooking meals for me, and much more. I appreciated all his care for me so much. One thing he was doing was taking my blood pressure regularly because this was one of our concerns. My lowest blood pressure was 75/55.

I also appreciated my Dad so much, and that he is a doctor. I called him over and over for guidance. There was no doctors here when I was sick so I depended on my Dad a lot. He was very helpful.

On Sabbath we finally quit the IV quinine and I started to take the quinine tablets again and was able to keep food down with them. What a blessing. We were praising God that I was getting better.

Monday I finally finished quinine treatment at last! My vision was still not normal until Wednesday but I was so thankful it was getting better. Now, I feel great. After being sick 2 whole weeks I have learned in a deeper way the blessing of what it feels like to be healthy. Jonathan and I are so thankful to God that I'm better.

I didn't really mean for this to become such a long story but I want to share a lesson that I have drawn out of this experience and some of the blessings that I experienced. First of all I want to thank all of you who were praying for me. My family told me that literally hundreds of people were praying for me! That really meant a lot to me and encouraged me so much. Thank you and may the Lord bless you.

Now for a lesson I have drawn from this experience: I believe that there are dangers here. There are dangers in getting malaria and other diseases. There are dangers from other things, too, such as snakes. After getting this sick I felt in some ways that I didn't want to be here. Don't misunderstand me though, this was just a feeling, not what I really wanted. For truly this is where I want to be because I believe God has called me here. I thought about this feeling and contrasted it with how God has called me here. If God has called me to be here in Chad (and I believe He has) then that is the safest place in the whole world for me to be. This thought is encouraging to me. Wherever God calls lets stay in that safe place and He will be with us always!

In His Service,
Melody Dietrich

P.S. I wrote this news letter almost 2 weeks ago. The sad news is that I have malaria now again. We are treating it with quinine right away this time along with some other anti malaria medications. So far I'm doing pretty good but of course we always appreciate your prayers. I know God will be with me again as He was with me last time.