I tossed and turned on the bed in the hotel room. My head ached. In fact my whole body was aching and I had chills all over.
In addition, I had just had a most horrible nightmare and this had made me feel quite weak. In my dream I had woken up one morning and upon looking in the mirror had found that my skin had turned yellow. Hoping it would clear up, I dressed and had my breakfast as usual, ready for work. A second look in the mirror and I knew I could not go out.
Things got worse as my hair began to change colour too. What could I do? I had to get help. Desperate I put on a long sleeved sweater, a scarf over my hair, and with my head held down I left the house in search of help.
I started to run, but where I was going I did not know. One thing only on my mind, I must get back to normal, I could not stay yellow.
Faster and faster I ran, blindly bumping into anything in my path. Anywhere, any way, I must get help.
And then....! It was all over. Just a dream.
What a relief! I looked at my skin. It was perfectly normal. But I was ill and I was afraid. I had just come back from spending my vacation in Trinidad with my friend Joanna, who lives there. We had had a wonderful time together, sightseeing and enjoying each others company. All too soon the vacation ended, and here I was on my way back home, but feeling oh so ill.
When I was making my plans to travel to Trinidad I had been told that if I went to that country I should have a vaccination shot for yellow fever. I had planned to do so, but never made the time. Now I was ill and I was afraid.
The dream fresh on my mind, I wondered if I was going to turn yellow. I slipped out of bed and peered in the mirror. Nothing had changed, though my face was flushed with fever. What should I do? I swallowed a couple of aspirins and got back into bed.
When I had first heard about yellow fever I had sought some information on the disease. I had learned that the fever is a viral disease of short duration and varying severity that is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes. The infection is so named because of the yellow skin colour (known as 'jaundice’) observed in people with a serious case of yellow fever infection.
I learned that the symptoms of yellow fever can be mild but often increase in severity with the sudden onset of fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, headache and prostration. There were two phases, and if the victim did not recover from the first phase the illness could lead to death.
I shivered. The very remembrance of these facts made me feel worse. I was overnighting in this hotel on my way home and did not know anyone. What could I do?
If only. Yes, if only I had gone and had that vaccination. I had a good friend at home who was always quoting “Be sure your sin will find you out”. Well maybe this sin of omission had found me out!
After another hour of tossing and turning, I decided to call my friend and tell her what was happening. Perhaps she could tell me what to do.
At first I was hurt as my friend burst out laughing. “Oh Vanessa,” she said, “you haven’t got yellow fever, just plain old influenza. There has not been a case of yellow fever in this country for many years. Having a vaccination is just a precautionary measure.”
“Are you sure,” I replied. “I feel so ill and I had begun to think I was going to die”.
“Of course, I’m sure. Just take a couple more aspirins and go to sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning. And pray too. Remember the Lord knows all about it.”
I put down the phone. Already I felt a little better, in my mind if not in my body. I took the aspirins, said my prayers and was soon fast asleep.
Just as my friend had said, I felt a lot better next morning. A look in the mirror assured me that there was no sign of yellow fever. Thank God!
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