Silver LiningBy Reader Mariah, PIN: 1881

I am sure, dear reader, you are thinking what on earth can she mean?

Is she mad?

How on earth can illness be a gift?

That is certainly what I thought before I contracted whooping cough earlier this year..

Some of you may have noticed I have not been available on the lines for several months. This is because, I might say luckily in an ironic way, the Pertussis, as it’s known to the medical profession, centred on my larynx and I lost my voice completely. It could have been worse and affected my lungs. The Latin name for complete loss of voice is Aphonia, Dysphonia is a croaky voice, and five months later I have the voice of an adolescent boy.

It’s been rough, but I have come to see this period as a gift of learning and growth, the product of total withdrawal and stillness, the life of the monk, detached from ordinary life in a day to day way, leaving time and energy for spiritual growth and development. In the great scheme of things it’s like winning the lottery. (I can hear you say Oh My God she really is mad!) But bear with me dear reader…

It took some time to get a confirmed diagnosis, due to the range of symptoms and the general incredulity of the doctors who seem to believe it’s been eradicated – it hasn’t! I had kidney infections from high temperatures and night sweats, blinding headaches, a chest infection which appeared to go to my throat. I lost my voice completely – then the coughing spasms began and being quite intuitive, I knew immediately this was whooping cough. This isn’t the first time I’ve had an intuition versus science battle and I’m sure many of you have experienced this as well, along with the immense frustration that comes with the blank and unconcerned expression on the doctor’s face. The doctor’s didn’t take me seriously for three months, or treat me correctly as a result. So this has added up to further months of illness and I’m still coughing. The gift from this experience was greater patience and tolerance in dealing with other people who are failing in their responsibilities and learning peaceful, non-confrontational methods of redressing this problem to get the results I needed, so a lesson in personal power too.

What I learned in a practical sense is that anyone can get whooping cough, vaccination only lasts ten years at the most, it is passed through sneezing and coughing, its starts like flu, so it’s easy to confuse with a virus and wait for it to pass. Most doctors, to be fair, might see it that way depending on the severity of your symptoms. It can take up to forty-two days to incubate, and the person infected is infectious for all that time. The symptom which separates it from other illnesses is the ‘whoop’. It’s actually gasping for air as the cough is an uncontrollable spasm of coughing out, no room in between for breathing, so when you get a chance to, you gasp. To add insult to injury, treatment is one specific antibiotic and sometimes steroids; however, unless you are treated correctly within the first three weeks, treatment tends to be ineffective against the length and severity of the illness. It’s on the rise again sadly, so forearmed is forewarned, I hope you can draw from my experience and use it.

Come back to read part 2 next week…