Wednesday, July 9, 2014

we've fallen and we can't get up: a chikungunya update

Life is a crazy and unpredictable adventure.

Anyone that has lived more than seven minutes knows this.

One minute you're clicking along doing your thing, planning your work and working your plan. 

The next minute you're down on the ground, flipped on your head, wondering what in the hellio just happened.

Suffice it to say, every single one of us really likes the part of life where we feel like we are making plans and advancing said plans.  

Nobody wants to feel stuck in a cruddy place without answers and advancement.  

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, after all.

   *                *               *

I truly cannot fathom the evil being that came up with the bizzaro virus called Chikungunya.  Having experienced Dengue and Malaria,  it seems we've finally found something more difficult than both of those, but only because those two go away. 

Who has ever heard of a virus that comes back to ruin your fingers and wrists and other choice joints many weeks after it first came to take you out for a few days? 

The CDC and all the other fancy epidemiologists and smarties out there have some work to do.  The websites and published information all claim things like this:

Remission and long-term effects

The clinical symptoms of chikungunya usually disappear relatively quickly – patients tend to recover from the fever and rashes associated with the disease within a few days, but joint problems can persist for several weeks. Infection by the chikungunya virus does not seem to have been the direct cause of the small number of fatalities recorded during epidemics.

Joint pain can persist in subacute or chronic form for several months or even years, particularly in older patients. In a retrospective South African study, 10% of patients were still affected 3 to 5 years after acute infection by the chikungunya virus.

What is "older" in this case?  I think we need some further definition.  Who are these "old" people in South Africa? 

If my hands are not going to work for three to five years, I'm gonna need a psychologist with an arsenal of anti-depressants down here stat. 

Right now, it seems "older" is anyone over fifteen. I have a 24 year old friend with chronic pain.  I have a 39 year old husband who cannot play his guitar.  Our 61 year old boss is an utter wreck. I have hands that cannot easily do many midwifery functions. 

Our fingers are swollen like Kielbasa sausages and bending them is our daily challenge.  The wedding ring had to come off and putting back on seems like a lofty goal. 

At the painful typing of this rant, every person that I know (Haitian, American, Canadian, and Australian) that had the acute stage of the virus 3 to 8 weeks ago, have had chronic pain in at least a few joints. I don't know if you call it debilitating if you keep going while in pain, but it is important that we come up with the word that means it is very bad but we are marching onward. 

Paige observed, "Wow. In my whole life I have never been awake more than you and Dad. I don't believe this."  Chik V makes busy adults sleep more than teenagers. 

Lest you think there is no point to my gripe, let me get to my point.

My point:

This virus is a beast. If you can avoid it, we vote you do that.  A one week trip to Haiti (in our opinion, and this is only our opinion) is not worth weeks and weeks (and dear GOD PLEASE FORBID, months and years) of pain and fatigue. If and when you come here, be insane about your bug spray. Don't bring any crunchy, earthy, deet-free lavender concoction.  Bring the highest DEET content you can find and make it your job to use every drop you bring. 

Our daughter and her boyfriend are currently kicking butt at that job. Half way through their time in Haiti and both are ChikV free.  It's a good thing too, because we need to sleep in while they take care of these kids.