What is the value of life?
Ask the twenty two year old Cystic Fibrosis patient lying in hospital with severe internal lung bleeding. Yes, teardrops cannot say it all. Neither can 3 different types of antibiotics, amounting to fifty pills a day. "Hey," I reasoned, "she needs it. If she coughs now, its definitely over."
Then people start telling her that everyone has to die. It's not that bad. I remember walking into the bathroom, falling down to my knees and crying. Nothing could give me the strength to look into her eyes, yet I was the only human being still fighting to keep her alive.
When you reach the end and you have no more faith, what do you do?
It feels like years ago that we started suspecting that Monique had acute metal poisoning. In fact, it had been merely 72 hours ago. We were so excited at the prospect of success. Finally I started to understand why the lifestyle counseling wasn't as successful as I was use to. In retrospect, sometimes you need to loose everything to gain everything. The Monique I know today will never touch another chemical in her life- and that's not my doing.
In retrospect, sometimes you need to loose everything to gain everything. The Monique I know today will never touch another chemical in her life- and that's not my doing.
Within days after her last hospitalization, her body started to react to the chemicals. After years of chronic medication, alarms were going off everywhere.
Scheduled for a checkup at the provincial hospital in Capetown, she sent me a short message that morning. "Michael, the medicine is hurting me. I am in physical pain. I can't do this anymore. I am scared."
For the first time in my life, I was pro medication. Instead of listening, I told her to finish her course. Internal bleeding is bad. If her scars got reopened, it could be the end. After all, her doctor had prescribed it.
Fortune was on her side. While the specialist had no idea just how bad things were, he could see that there were problems. A terrible headache screeched through her head. Nauseated, she could hardly eat. Shivers echoed through her body. She had mild cramps too. After two weeks of extreme medication, she was cut down to a lighter dose of poison. It helped alleviate the pain, but not much.
Then the course ended.
Within days she was as sick as a dog. Common sense demanded that her body try to deal with the flood of chemicals that had stabilized her lungs. This would become the worst week of my life.
Her mom insisted she start a new course of antibiotics. Monique knew it would be the end. Secretly, she began detoxing herself. Every morning I would wake up to a war raging through my heart and mind. This is life and death. I would advice where I could, knowing that a full scale war was about to erupt if her mom should find out. Then Friday arrived, her mom wouldn't go to work.
She pretended to take the meds. I could feel the tension, more than a hundred kilometers away. Something was going to give her away...
She could no longer do hydrotherapy without her mom knowing. There was no way of helping her body with much needed charcoal packs. She felt horrible. Her energy was draining away. She felt so week.
Back in Riversdale, I was packing to attend a weekend of mission planning. There was only three sets of clothing in my backpack. Sure, I was doing Gods work, but my mind was a ocean of confusion and sadness. My God was bigger than this mess, yet how could I convince Monique of it?
It was sabbath morning. After two hours of sweet talking and begging her, she finally gave it all to God. She would face her mom and explain everything we have learnt. I was preaching while they talked. Sure, I do my best every time I preached, but my heart was racing like never before. My aunt and I, correction, my family or perhaps the world and I have never agreed on her treatment. Silent prayers flooded my mind as I sought to secure faith in the lives of an audience- while I questioned my own sanity.
Her mom agreed to give me a chance! I planned on leaving on Sunday afternoon.
I couldn't sleep that night, so I started reading. Within no time at all, the realization struck home. There is nothing like a quick or easy metal detox. Speed will kill anyone brave enough to try it. You could overwhelm the detox organs within a moment. Everything needs to happen slowly, very very slowly. Perhaps the biggest problem is the nature of the therapy. Half her diet- as a vegan- will have to be controlled. All leafy green vegetables, all proteins and oils are chelating in nature. The amount of food quality chelating agents would have to be controlled.
I finally fell asleep around four. My phone started ringing at five. "Mom is driving me through to the hospital right now!"
"Stall her!" I demanded.
I would never see my cousin again. There is a point beyond which I know there will be no return. This was it.
Ending the call, my fingers frantically fought for my mentor's number. What is the quickest way to stop a detox? Poison should do, but given the resistance she has developed to chemicals, I was too scared to venture a guess. Antibiotics would trigger more cramps and headaches. It needs to be something readily available in my aunts house. Panic wasn't helping.
My mentor is an angel. "Caffeine!"
Monique tried to argue, but it worked and within an hour she was... better.
Nothing could prepare me for the moment I walked into my aunts house. Never before had I seen such suffering, pain and hopelessness.
Monique suffers from a condition brought about by nutritional malabsorption. She eats a lot! That doesn't change anything. Physically, she looks 13. Practically, she looked like a living skeleton. She still jokes that she is the skeleton in the closet.
So you have a girl that looks anemic, lying in a bed that she can hardly get up from. Her fingers dig into the linen as she tries to escape the pain screaming through her body. She can hardly breathe, but she is a little better. Between the occasional sobs are pain staking coughs battling to clear her half flooded lungs. I sat on her bed with my aunt as we cried and prayed and cried and prayed some more.
We had virtually no herbs in the house. I tried to use cold compresses to soothe her. There wasn't much more we could do before Monday. In a tiny little village like Barrydale, nothing happens on weekends.
Progress was slow. People don't understand each other. I got advice from geniuses every single day. "She is too negative. Tell her to smile and she will get better." I felt like asking these beams of sunlight to go breathe in some water and try smiling. "She needs to exercise..." Uh, yup, come help her stand up for a moment then give me your other five cents. Maybe the one that hurt her most is the, "She needs to do something with her life, then she will get better." Sure, give her some energy and I promise you we will try to think of something for her to do. In the meanwhile, would you like to empty her bedpan? Its funny how everyone knows exactly what she needs, while no one could actually help her.
God was teaching me patience. More importantly, He was reminding me why I gave my life to Him in the first place.
No, the pain didn't miraculously vanish. God could have done it, but there were important lessons to be learned. These missing pieces of my cousins life are the keys to human existence. We had argued about them many times before. She knew what I would say, every single day. Sadly, I would still have to repeat them a million times over again.
Monique never drank any liquids. This means that the cup of rooibos she enjoys every day is the only liquid she has to try and clean out her body. Mucous is an emergency pressure release valve. The body uses it to detox when the sweat glands and urinary system no longer has the ability to clean the body. Chronic conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis and similar conditions demand higher levels of hydration.
Day by day I pushed her. Little by little I boosted her immune system, cleaned out her body and rebuilt her physical strength.
Its almost four months later. The humidity is 90% at the moment and it's going to stay that way for another 3 hours. This is Monique's worst nightmare. Ozone mixes into the waves of atmospheric pressure contorting through the air. Now O3 is a very strong natural detoxification agent. For the past week and a half, we have had the worst weather Johannesburg has ever seen, and its said to continue.
She is asleep!
Correction, she has slept through every single night during this spout of bad weather. Despite the sudden change in weather, our visit to my mom is pleasant. This storm only illustrates how far we have come. Three months ago, a similar storm would have killed her. We walked about 4km far yesterday. We did six the day before. Despite the pressure on her lungs, her breathing is deep and clear. Yes she coughs a bit more than - the new - normal. Its to be expected.
Monique lost more than 60% of her left lung. She started developing bed sores because she could only sleep on the right side of her body. Sleeping on her left side hurt her insanely. Lying on her back makes it easier for the mucous to flood her lungs. If she sleeps on her chest, her breathing is impaired.
Imagine my surprise when I check up on her and find her sleeping in random positions, and its been happening for three weeks now! Truth be told, I know her left lung is growing back. Her left hand side of the body had started to show structural changes due to the smaller lung. Doing palpitations on her back was hard, because there was very little space to hit her on that side of her body. For the past two months, I have noticed how the space beneath my hands grew. Now I know that she is getting better. She even sleeps on her left side!
Monique has a dream that isn't too far removed from my own. Her younger sister has cystic fibrosis too. So do several of our friends. You meet people at the clinics and hospitals. People talk and I guess its true, similarity attracts. We know about ten people with cystic fibrosis. Monique wants to help them find the hope that God has given her. I would like a clinic where we focus on helping those with no hope. In short, we have agreed that we need a lifestyle center that is completely self supporting.
That would require a small farm, buildings and equipment. In the beginning, we estimated that it would cost about 1-2 million dollars to buy a farm.
I would like a farm in a special spot just outside the peninsula, at the foot of the mountains. Okay I would prefer a mountain farm! However, its pretty much impossible to get one. A week ago I got the impression that I should talk to my step dad. He is a master builder. So I asked him if he would help if we could get an undeveloped farm. That would save us a fortune. He agreed. The next morning, I stumbled upon a mountain farm in PRINGLE BAY!!! It's about 200 000 dollars.
Its a nice idea, but I have never been good at asking anything from anyone. Then there is the small problem, I am bankrupt. In short, I have very little hope.
That was till a friend asked me if she could help financially. I said no! She is a single mom. Still, she insists she wants to help me do Gods work. I can't argue... I am doing Gods work and... Technically it would be bad to keep someone from helping with Gods work. She kept insisting, so I stopped fighting God. She won't be able to help with much but it gave me a little hope. All I need is faith.
We need around 3-400 000 $ to make this project work. It sounds a lot but the mortgage on the property is about 2000$ per month. With an extra 3000$ we would have enough funds to build and develop the property too. Of course, getting the money sooner would enable us to build faster and help people sooner.
You could be a part of this exciting journey. Join us as we show the world what God can do. Your contribution will help to set up a self sustaining lifestyle center in which we can reach out to people deprived of hope. Come with me as we show the world what the living God of heaven and earth can do today. Let's rebuild the word called faith.
Thank you for your continued support.