Friday, May 2, 2014

Richard's Life Threatening Illness

This lesson was almost learned too late.

Today is my birthday, and my gift is that I get to share this day with my husband. That he is still alive is a miracle.

Recently we visited our family in Missouri.  We explored wooded areas at the back of a field.  Richard came home with two ticks, both of which I removed.

Both bites swelled the skin. One made a great big fat red and white bull's eye.

I urged him to go to the doctor RIGHT AWAY.  He thought if it was lyme, he would have plenty of time and could wait to come home before seeing a doctor.  Do all men think they are invincible?

His mom and I bothered and pestered him until he went to a local physician, who promptly prescribed a very powerful antibiotic called doxycycline. 

Within two days of the tick bite, he was treated for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  We did not really know what that was.

Only after seeing a doctor yesterday, did we become aware of how serious this is.  We did not know that if he recovers, we still have to be on guard against relapse.

"RMSF is a serious illness that can be fatal in the first eight days of symptoms if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. The progression of the disease varies greatly. Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe course may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care." (Centers for Disease Control)

If he had waited several days more, DEATH was likely.  This type of tick contained rickettsii.  Rickettsii affect the cells that line the blood vessels.  

"The damage that occurs in the blood vessels results in a disease process called a "vasculitis", and bleeding or clotting in the brain or other vital organs may occur. Loss of fluid from damaged vessels can result in loss of circulation to the extremities and damaged fingers, toes or even limbs may ultimately need to be amputated. Patients who suffer this kind of severe vasculitis in the first two weeks of illness may also be left with permanent long-term health problems such as profound neurological deficits, or damage to internal organs. Those who do not have this kind of vascular damage in the initial stages of the disease typically recover fully within several days to months. "(CDC)

So about a minute after reading that yesterday, I wept in a nervous, shaking, mental break-down kind of way.

The doctor here at home in NC is now monitoring him for relapse.  So far, Richard has responded positively to the antibiotic and is slowly slowly beginning to improve.  He still has pain and soreness, which is likely to stay with him for at least two more months.

Upon further research, we discovered that RMSF outbreaks are occurring here in North Carolina too.

Today we are heading back out to the woods, because Richard is teaching a wilderness survival class! Can you guess how much I want to go outdoors now?

Richard recently celebrated his birthday.  I had no idea then that it might not have happened. 
Please pray that Richard recovers fully, with no relapse.  We are going to stay positive, and put our intentions on good health.

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