Lymphatic filariasis is infection with the filarial worms, …. These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito and develop into adult worms in the lymphatic vessels, causing severe damage and swelling (lymphoedema). Elephantiasis – painful, disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs – is a classic sign of late-stage disease (http://www.who.int/topics/filariasis/en/).
The roads in Congo were not paved, so rain and heat were hard on them, leaving them very hard to travel on, sometimes impossible. It was not uncommon to see a line of trucks sitting for days, waiting for a large gorge of water to dry out enough to pass through.
The roads were hard on cars, so very few cars traveled; instead trucks and motor cycles did their best to weave around the gorges, potholes, running chickens, dogs, people and sometimes wild life such as civit cats that littered the dirt roads.
Because our road was well traveled (2 or 3 vehicles per hour), it was spotted with villages that lined up mud built houses, so when one traveled, one came across a small village every few miles/kilometers. Between those villages were forests, rivers, and brush.
Gbado-Gboketsa, Congo was a little village with about 100 people who lived along the road that led to Gbado-Lite, a city of 100,000 that actually had a small grocery store that stocked European items. Gbado-Lite was 45 miles / 72 kilometers away from Gbado-Gboketsa, so several trucks and motorcycles traveled through the Gbado-Gboketsa each day, most of them passing through without a thought.
Occasionally, someone turned on the small road out of Gbado-Gboketsa, away from the road that traveled to Gbado-Lite. As one traveled that small road, one would see a grass airfield on the left and forest on the right. Just past the airfield the road split turning right to several brick school buildings with metal roofs, or turning left to a large area containing 3 brick houses with metal roofs. My wife and I lived in one of the brick houses for 3 years.
Once or twice a year a visitor would travel down our road and pay us a short visit. I remember two in particular. There were bicyclers from Europe, who were biking throughout Africa, and there was a German doctor who rode his motorcycle on the way to Gbado-Lite.
The day the doctor visited, I had a strange numbness in my knee and told him about it, so he looked at it but had no conclusion.
Several days later I went to Gbado-Lite, to get groceries. In a city of 100,000 the same German doctor I met several days ago saw me from across the street. What were the chances? He took one look at me from across the street and told me to get into his hospital immediately, because he saw that my leg had swollen to twice its size during the few days since I had seen him last.
In the hospital (which was a few blocks away), I was quickly moved into a room where a nurse gave me a pill designed to stir up parasites hanging out in my leg (the doctor suspected this was the case). We hurried, because we had only one hour to find out if his hunch was right – the electricity in Gbado Lite shut off every day at noon; the microscopes needed electricity; and it took one hour for the pill to activate the parasites enough to see them in my blood. I was under the gun because it was 11:00 a.m. when I went into the hospital.
I did not know it at the time, but I was close to losing my leg. I felt no pain, so I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. My leg was literally dying while parasites were clogging up the flow of blood into my leg.
Seconds before noon, under microscope, the doctor saw that I did indeed have filaria (another word for Elephantiasis).
I was given the medication, sent on my way, and within days, my leg was returning to its original size.
MIRACLE OR NOT
Was this a miracle? What do you think?