On the Other Side of the Dengue Fever…

Where does one begin after the last couple weeks?  I must admit that I’m in tears, as I start writing this post.  At one point, I never knew when I’d have the strength to write a new post.  But alas, I’m so thankful to meet you here this morning.  Kari’s Mamabloo Photo Tale post was absolutely beautiful yesterday, and I must thank her here (again and again) for bringing beautiful words to this blog to give me a little more time to recover.  And what on earth would I do without my Genie?  I don’t even want to think about it.  But you, all of you…

Thank you for EVERY prayer and loving wish of recovery.  To be in a jungle and feel the isolation start to suffocate as your fevers spike…it has been overwhelming.  But to be able to have Brian come back to our house, after finding an Internet connection, and read all your loving words to us…I can’t tell you how much your prayers gave to me and Pascaline.  Thank you so much for taking the time and caring as much as you all do.

Before this trip, I had never heard of the Dengue Jungle Fever.  It’s transmitted by a mosquito bite, a daytime mosquito.  (The daytime fact is what made me fall out of my seat.  I haven’t even seen a “daytime” mosquito!)  But he saw us, and he did bite.  They call the Dengue, the Bone Breaker, and I have never felt pain like this before.  You literally feel like all your bones are breaking, starting with your legs and working its way up to your head, feeling as if your head is splitting open in seven directions.

The intensity is enough to make you never want to come back.  This was how I felt at different moments.  I just wanted to be home where the weather wasn’t 102 degrees as if it was competing with our 104 degree fevers.  Pascaline and I could have felt betrayed by this place we love so much.  But I think the jungle somehow knew we were reaching our breaking point because at the worst hour, the jungle surrounded us with love and wonder.

The moment of feeling surrounded by love and wonder was in the middle of Pascaline’s worst fever run.  This is what I wrote to my brother when it was over…

Pascaline is about two days behind me.  She is still suffering on and off.  She has been such a trooper.  I sat and cried in the doctor’s office and told him that we felt like our bones were breaking, and he told me the fever’s street name “The Bone Breaker”.  It was comforting in a very disturbing but relieving way.



I have never felt pain like this Shauni—ever.  I have been in and out of delirium with faint memories of Brian putting cold washcloths all over me, trying to bring my body temp down to no avail.  I have seen his eyes scared.  It’s hard to see it in his eyes, and at the same time feel like the fever has taken me a hundred miles away.



Yesterday morning Pascaline woke up screaming.  She was screaming that her nose broke off.  Her whole body was twisting and turning in pain.  I had just been through it all night, and I held her and wept.  There is no medicine.  There is no immunization.  Your body must simply let go.  Everything in you wants to fight the pain away, but this only makes it worse.

Brian sat above her, as he sat above me the last five nights, and whispered instructions to her as he gently held her legs down.  “Pascaline, the fever has already lost.  Don’t fight the pain.  Let go and focus on this spot.”  He laid his hand over her collar bone.  “There is no pain there, and that is where God is resting.  Rest with Him, and let the fever swallow you b/c I won’t let it take you.  I will be on the other side.”

To stop fighting the pain and let it pull you under like the sea’s undertow is overwhelming…but to feel like you won’t ever surface, to see the sheer fear in my baby’s eyes…

As I held her, I couldn’t help but cry with a feeling of such helplessness.  Our Thai housekeeper came up behind me.  Her name is Cha, and she has the most beautiful smile in all of Thailand.  She laid her hands gently on my shoulders and whispered words to me in Thai, comforting words that I couldn’t understand, but I knew she was speaking from one mother to another.

And then something magical happened that I must back up to tell you about…

We have monkeys here, as you remember.  There are two kinds of monkeys, and then we also have Gibbon Apes.  The Gibbon Apes are high up in the trees and give off a beautiful call in the morning.  It’s like a whirling, siren noise that washes over you, repeating itself, with different apes joining in at different octaves, and the whole jungle is quiet as these beasts sing.

They never come down to our house level, but you can see them with binoculars.  And yet the other day, Pascaline was mimicking their sound off the back deck.  And FIVE of them came down to the trees off our deck and watched us, mimicking back to her, swinging through the trees with such speed and fierce ability, your mouth dropped open.  That morning, Blaze was fevering his worst.

Yesterday, when Pascaline was screaming with pain, the Gibbons started singing.  I didn’t notice at first until someone said something.  Except they weren’t high up in the hills, they were all around the outside of our bedroom and back deck—watching from the trees.

Healing Singing Gibbon Ape in Thailand


They were in the low trees and whooping their call so loud and so divine, it swallowed Pascaline’s screaming. It was then that she actually smiled with her eyes closed from the pain.  “Can you hear them mom?  They’ve come back down.  I think they’re singing to me.”  And so they were.  I can’t explain how magical the moment felt with Cha whispering faith into my ear in an unfamiliar tongue, and Gibbons singing to my daughter, but I felt held by the jungle, held and not shunned by this fever any longer.



Two days later, Pascaline’s fever broke for good.  She has bounced back with such amazing speed.  But still, we have taken life very slow.   On most days, it feels as if the fever has beat the energy right out of my body.  But at sunset we make our way down to the beach, when the heat is not so merciless.  Brian and I have sat and watched Pascaline wade in the water with Blaze, listened to her laugh, and have confessed that her laugh is the most beautiful sound we have heard in weeks.  The little one even rock climbed yesterday with utter grace as twenty plus people watched from below as she made her way up the 100 ft rock face on a  6b route—making it look like child’s play.

In a few days, we start our journey home.  We’re going to start a day early, break up our flying time a bit more, so that our bodies don’t feel pushed as hard.  The kids cried because they felt like they’ve just begun to play here.  But at the same time, I think we are ready to return.

Some of you must still be praying because our last days here have been rich with joy and wonderful memories.  God is somehow already restoring the time our fevers stole.  And even more so, what a blessed family we are to know we are returning to all your love and support.

From one mother to many mothers, fathers, grandparents, and dear friends, thank you so much for praying for us in one of our scariest hours.  Thank you for praying for my babies.  Thank you with all my heart.

Mom and Daughter healed at the beach


Me Ra

p.s.  If you are game, I’m excited to back up in our trip before the Dengue came.  There are so many images and crazy stories to share on the blog of our time in Angkor Wat.  But tomorrow, we’d first like to announce the Running on Empty Winner.  Our internet has been so horrible here, but I think Genie has saved the day (AGAIN!), and we’ll be able to announce the beautiful winner tomorrow for the Orange County Wkshp.

p.s.s.  I want to make one last special note.  The SOAR! Recipients are posting their exercises from the Artist Way this week, starting today.  If you are in need of creative inspiration, be sure you check out what they share this week on the SOAR! blog.  And for those of you undecided on a camera purchase, the gals all blogged about their Sony SOAR! gear last week.  🙂