A month in bed
So today mark’s exactly a month since I’ve turned a luminous shade of yellow, started losing a lot of weight and, most notably, got into bed for what I hoped would be a week or two. Since I’ve been quiet on my blog, I thought I’d share a bit of what the last month of my life has been all about.
Where it all began…
After a great evening of hanging out with a friend and having some great chats and a glass or two of wine, I started throwing up and feeling all round awful around 12:30am. Suffering through the night without a minute of sleep, my plan was to wait till my doctor’s offices opened at 8 and try get an appointment. But by 6am I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to head over to Kloof Hospital … a place we had incidentally already spent a large chunk of time this year, and many thousands of rand. The result was the typical “fix you up” drip, but with a few blood tests chucked in for good measure. These blood results, a few hours later, revealed I was one of the 1.4 million people who will contract Hepatitis A this year.
Here’s my confession… I knew absolutely nothing about Hepatitis A. So, if you’re like me and don’t know what it is, I’ve put some info at the bottom of this post.
So the doctor gave me the option of either being admitted (something that would definitely be the easier option for me, but traumatic for my family as there are few things as disruptive as a family member in hospital) or going home to recover. He assured me I would feel terrible, but that I would be more comfortable at home. So, off we went back home.
The next morning, I woke up and immediately could tell all kinds of things were wrong. A dark red urine, bright yellow eyes and fatigue like I had never experienced before. Little would I know that this would be my life for the next month. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good days… days where I was able to go for a 2 hour meeting at the office, or go to gym to watch Seth swim for 45 minutes, or even head to a church service. But these ‘good days’ were followed by 2 or 3 terrible days!
And that was my month. Nausea. No appetite, resulting in my losing 11kg in 2 weeks. Extreme Fatigue. Headaches. And, again, lump yellow.
Where things are at now…
On Friday I went back to my doctor and blood tests have shown that rather than my enzyme levels (read: the issue) improving, they have actually got much worse, going from 63 to 281. Effectively, it means the light at the end of the tunnel is still very far from away. It means more bed rest, more frustration, and more lying concerned about what I should be doing. And there lies the key.
What I’ve learned…
I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes you find out what that reason is, most often you don’t. But I also believe that God works all things for our good, ultimately (that’s what Romans 8:28 says!) I am still far from knowing what the reason behind this is (apart from the spiritual attack my family has been under since November last year – what with the many break in’s at our previous house, Seth’s hospitalisation and my illness even before the HepA) but I do believe part of this is for me to learn how to not be in control.
I started this year, like many others, with some goals.
- I wanted to be far more organised when it comes to the ‘events’ I organise in my ministry – things like Easter, Holiday Club evening programme, Carol services etc – and had set the 15th of Feb as my deadline to have my Easter plan all sorted out
- I planned to get properly fit again this year and lose some weight, build some muscle, and be able to comfortably do a few 10km races.
- I wanted to be inspired enough during the week to do a weekly blog post
- I had planned to be a great “hander over” of the ministry responsibility at our Hatfield campus to Gray, who has had to sink or swim after being chucked in the deep end
- I had a good financial plan to save up enough spending money for our trip to Thailand in April, all which has been used up now by medical bills (so far, our combined medical bills – as in things Discovery have and haven’t paid for, is over R50 000 and that’s just for Jan & Feb)
- I had registered to study Hebrew again and had started my first module
What comes to mind is that quote “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”. All my plans above were good plans. They were all productive, made with pure motives, and for the good of myself and my family. Though none of that has worked out as I planned. In all of this – as frustrating as it has been, and let me tell you – it has been frustrating (I am not the ‘lie on your back for 20 of the 24 hours a day’ type of person) – I have to believe that the plans that God has for me… the plans He has for my family… the plans He spoke about in Jeremiah 29:11 are better than the plans I made. I have to believe that whatever is happening in the grander scheme of things will ultimately triumph and prove that this is just a really big detour to the greater things He has planned for me.
What I’ve really learned…
More than all that though, what I repeatedly ask myself, is how people who are not connected to a local church family manage to survive the crisis’ of everyday life, let alone the ‘big’ things that happen in life. My church family has been nothing short of incredible! For much of the past month, we have had supper delivered to use at 6pm… hot and ready to be eaten, often with a little treat for Seth. This “roster” that caring people have drawn up goes on for another 2 weeks. That’s another two weeks of meals delivered to our front door so that Tam doesn’t have to worry about cooking while trying to keep me alive, and get Seth bathed, fed and put to bed while also doing all the work that comes with being a teacher.
My eldership (the guys that employ me, for those to whom that term is foreign) have been nothing but supportive and caring. I have tried to continue working, even though it has been nearly impossible. Today, they came round after church and instructed me to take a month off to recover properly. I cannot see many corporate’s doing that!
The guys I work with, meaning the staff and volunteers I lead, have been incredible as well – always willing to pick up the pieces and go the extra mile, stepping in for both Tam and I. Tam was scheduled to lead worship at church this evening, and after hearing that Seth had gashed his leg open on a broken coffee mug, the team rallied together and promptly sent Tam home at five to six. They have our backs!
What if we were not connected to a local church family? How would we cope? Not even a large family is able to contribute that kind of ongoing care.
There’s one more thing…
In all of this, there has been a song which has got me through and given me a reason to fight – not because it’s a great song, but because the truth it conveys is far greater than any other truth in the context of what I’ve been experiencing. Some may debate whether this is a “praise” song or a “worship” song. I don’t see it as either – it’s war cry! It’s the song the army shouts out before crossing over enemy lines. And it has been my war cry. No, our war cry as a family – with the words of the bridge stuck up on our fridge as a constant reminder every time I go get a glass of water. Here’s the song:
So, that said – thank you to all my friends and family who have cared; thank you to those who have so kindly made us dinner, brought flowers for Tam, sent a message, phoned, prayed – everything done for us has been a huge encouragement and a reminder that we are family. We love and appreciate you.
What is Hepatitis A?
- Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver, an organ which breaks down pretty much everything in your body that needs to be broken down.
- It is not treatable
- It’s source is usually contaminated water, or fruit/veg washed/prepared with that water
- Symptoms start about 4 weeks after contracting the disease
- It is highly contagious until about a week after the symptoms have started
- Symptoms are fever, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine (because of dead red blood cells that the liver isn’t able to break down), yellow jaundice
- Recovery is usually 3-6 weeks