Thursday, July 24, 2014

The invasion of the unsuspecting cell

By the time we arrived at the church compound, Friday night, the virus had begun to make its way into my unsuspecting cells.   They had faced cold and flu viruses many times and had antibodies to fight them but this was a stranger.  The virus tricked the cell into letting them in.  Its kind of like the Trojan Horse.  It pretended it was friendly but soon my cells knew that it's goal was to take over and use my healthy cells as a place to reproduce.

Boats in the harbor of LaGonave

All over the southern hemisphere viruses deposited by this species of mosquito were making similar invasions.  I did not know about the battle starting to be waged inside me.  We walked to the docks and looked at the fishing boats; large beautiful wooden sail boats that now mostly carried cargo and charcoal back and forth from Port Au Prince.  We visited with the sailors and sat in the evening sun. I think it was the last time I would walk  without pain or stiffness and muscle spasms.

If the mosquito had carried malaria, it would have found its way to the liver.   The people of most Malaria prone countries, do not take a daily malaria pill and few sleep under treated nets.  They assume they will get the virus and gain immunity over time.  If it was dengue, each time the virus entered the body it would get worst.  It would burst through small blood vessels and cause internal bleeding.  The ChickV would find its way to the joints and cause disability.

Kenel was going back to Port-Au- Prince at dawn to work on his visa application.  He had been accepted in an agricultural internship program through Oregon State University and was anxious to take the next steps.  I would wait for the nursing team that was to meet me there and help get the mobile clinics up and going.  There was an important training on Monday and I was trying to go over and over the plan.  I wanted them to work in village teams with the midwives to plan and implement the clinics.  I wanted to be supportive while allowing them to work together on the details.

By this time, the virus had multiplied and burst out of the host cell and into my blood stream where each new virus would find a new cell.

ChickV Virus

My adaptive immune system was working as hard as it could to make antibodies against the new virus.  A war was being mounted within me.  By Sunday the effects were being felt and I suspected the big mosquito that had made such a splat was the cause.  I did not know much about the virus they were talking about and I had no internet.  I read the CDC hand-out the nurses brought and listened to what other's said.

By Sunday night my immune system raised my temperature and I was on fire all night long.   Hot, shaking, burning body with a extreme head ache.  By morning,  the fever passed and the head ache subsided. My legs no longer worked as they had. I could not bend my knees.  I was in constant pain.

I couldn't eat and did not eat for days.  I suggested that I thought it was the chickungunya virus that people talked about.  The priest and the Phd nurses were absolutely sure I did not have it. They shook their heads in the courtyard and said "no, its something else."  I was pretty sure if it was something else I was going to die shortly.  It was not anything I had experience before but had no energy to or information to confirm my suspicions.

I only hoped I could pull off he training and would not fall over in pain and weakness.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine how awful this is for you. I feel so bad for you and I hope and pray that you have a speedy recovery. I know they're just words, but I hope they help a little