How I survived a deadly scorpion sting- HopeGirl

I almost died recently. I was in the hospital with a deadly scorpion sting.  Normally I would prefer to keep such a story as this private, but there is something in my spirit that is telling me that I need to share it, so here goes…

Let me start by telling you all that by far my absolute biggest fear in my entire life is a scorpion.  I mean, we are talking recurring nightmares kind of fear ever since I was a little girl. I don’t know why, perhaps it was an old movie I saw or something, but never the less we’ve all got our biggest fears right? Well, now you know mine. What is also uncanny is that I was born in October, so my zodiac sign is a Scorpio. (still not sure if this means I’m afraid of myself???) To this we are going to add something else I find extremely interesting: the evening in which this event occurred was the exact moment in time when the planet Jupiter entered into Scorpio… a position that it will be in for the next year. (I don’t know what this means either, but I’m looking into it).

I live outside of Marrakech Morocco in a beautiful olive grove. My partner Tivon and I had just come home from a long day of running errands in town. It was about 8:00 at night and it was dark. I went out to the car to bring in a bag of groceries. I was wearing open Teva strap sandals, and I suddenly felt the most horrific pain I’ve ever experienced in my life on the side of my right foot.  All I could do was scream, I looked down and could hardly see anything, but I did see this black spidery looking mass about the size of the palm of my hand jerking backwards in a recoil. At the time I had no idea what it was, I thought it could have been a snake, I actually thought it was something esoteric at first. I also thought that the only scorpions here were small, But this thing was huge. This is the thing that stung me.

 

hopegirl-scorpion-sting-300x194 How I survived a deadly scorpion sting- HopeGirl

Its called a “Fattail Scorpion” and its one of the most dangerous groups of scorpion species in the world. It was about 4 inches long. Its latin name Androctonus orginates from the Greek meaning “man killer”.  Their venom contains powerful neurotoxins and is especially potent.

Searing hot fire overtook my flesh. I was screaming uncontrollably and ran into the house. The pain was unrelenting. Tivon immediately ran to my side and I tried to tell him through hysterical choking tears what I thought happened to me.  He soaked my foot and gave me a huge pile of activated charcoal tablets to swallow with milk. I was thrashing in pain. He started sucking the poison out of my foot with his mouth.  At this point I could feel the fire of the poison moving up my leg into my groin area, it was heading towards my heart where it could give me a heart attack and kill me. I was doing all I could to try to prevent the poison from moving through my body, but there really was very little I could do. It was already inside my blood stream, my blood pressure was going through the roof and the agony of the pain had me in a state of shock.  All I could do was pray and that’s what I did.

I prayed and I screamed. I called up on the name of Jesus, I pulled up every bible verse that God had written on my heart. “I give you the power to tread on scorpions”… and “by his stripes I am healed”  I prayed in tongues, I screamed some more… Tivon prayed with me. I repeated Gods words in authority over and over and over again at the top of my lungs. Together the two of us where in full on spiritual warfare. Rebuking the evil that was running through my veins and trying to kill me. Tivon went to our neighbors who called a clinic and drove me to hospital nearby.

While my flesh was a blazing inferno of torment, my mind was on a different battlefield all together. Yes, I had fearful thoughts running through my mind. But my faith was my shield through it all. This was it for me, it was my moment of testing my faith and beliefs.  I was possibly facing death and I had no fear of it. Because I know where I’m going when I die and also because I knew that I had a lot more work to do in this life. I was more afraid of causing pain to the people that I would leave behind.

And then something incredible happened.  It was about 2 hours after the initial sting. I had been fighting a physical and spiritual war this whole time. I was laid out on a hospital table, hooked up to a machine with tubes and wires all over me to monitor my heart rate. I was still writhing in pain and crying uncontrollably. All the nurses walked out of the room and I was left in there completely alone for about 5 minutes. It was then that I felt the undeniable presence of God enter into the room. It was my precious Jesus, whom I know and love with all my heart. It was his presence there with me. I didn’t see him with my eyes but I felt him with every fiber of my being. And I had a deeper understanding of what he meant when he said “blessed is he who has not seen me and believes”.  With his presence, an energy of confidence flooded my mind and I heard the words “It is finished”, “You are already healed”, “In a few hours you will go home, just wait and let the doctors run their tests”.

Then a new nurse entered into the room, she asked me what my name is. I told her “Naima” which is a very popular name here in Morocco. Just about every fourth woman here is named Naima. I’ve been told it means “Gift from Allah”.  She was surprised to hear that my name was Naima and asked me if I was Moroccan. I told her that no, my parents named me after a song, and then I started singing it to her.  She lit up with the sound of my voice and couldn’t believe that I was the same woman who was screaming in pain just a few short minutes ago.

They transferred me to a recovery bed where I got to sit there and watch my sky-rocketed blood pressure on another machine. I was noticing other very strange symptoms too. The venom running through my body created a menthol taste in my mouth and I had “pins and needles” effects all over my body. It felt like I was standing naked in an ice crystal wind storm, yet I was drenched in sweat. They wanted to give me morphine, but I refused it as I knew that I needed my mind to be clear and sharp so that I could keep focusing on my prayers until I was finally through this.

Tivon had to leave for a while to go get the car and come back. While he was gone I was hooked up to tubes in a hospital bed with nothing but my phone.  So I took the one good finger I had and typed out a Facebook post asking for prayers. Hundreds of messages started flooding in with prayers from friends all over the world in real time.  My mom was looking up my symptoms for me and talking to me along with my sister from the other side of the planet on wassap. I have to say, this technology is flipping amazing.

Tivon returned and sat next to my hospital bed and we waited. I was still in tremendous pain, but I was in great spirits, because I knew that God had saved me and pretty soon I would be going home. There were three other sick people in the room with me, I decided to start praying for each of them to heal to.  I was just so grateful. So unbelievably and undeniable grateful.   It was around 5am when they released me and I was able to go home. I didn’t fall asleep until many hours later as the pain kept me awake. In all truth the pain from that dreaded thing did not fully stop until about 48 hours after the initial sting.

So here I am on the other side of all of this. I made it. I am writing this post on my 40th birthday. I’m completely recovered physically and forever changed mentally and emotionally and spiritually. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like after you’ve experienced your greatest fear and live to tell the tale.  God has given us the power to tread on scorpions. For me this was a life long fear that turned into a very literal reality. And when it happened God did not leave nor forsake me.

If your reading this and you are in a place where FEAR is completely controlling every aspect of your life, I want you to know that it doesn’t need to be like this. You can be set free from fear. Call out to God with all your heart and he will save you, just like he saved me.  God bless you all.

How and Why You Should Prevent a Kissing Bug Infestation

Chagas disease, or “kissing bug disease,” could have a higher mortality rate than previously thought. Why? Because it often goes unreported, and more than half of the U.S. is reporting new cases. [1] [2]

Source: Good Housekeeping

Chagas is largely asymptomatic, so most people don’t know they have it. Chagas, which is transmitted by the so-called “kissing bug,” can cause heart and intestinal problems, but too often the damage isn’t realized until it’s too late, or doctors don’t associate symptoms with the disease. [1]

Dr. Ester Cerdeira Sabino, a co-leader in the study, explained:

“Most people who get infected, carry on with their lives … unaware they were bitten. A lot of mortality data doesn’t account for Chagas, so you underestimate the effect of the disease. What the parasite does to the body takes a long time; [it] slowly goes into the heart and destroys it.”

Read: Rare Diseases Chagas and Leprosy Becoming Commonplace in U.S.

Chagas disease is 1 of 5 parasitic infections the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is currently targeting for public health action. [2]

Kissing Bugs and Their Deadly Parasites

The scientific name for kissing bugs is Triatomine bugs, but they’re also sometimes called assassin bugs and vampire bugs. The blood-sucking insects usually bite humans when they’re asleep, either on the eyes or the lips. People can also accidentally scratch or rub the bugs’ feces into their eyes or mouth, or accidentally consume contaminated food. [1] [2]

After feeding on a person, parasites in the kissing bug’s feces can enter the body through breaks in the skin. [2]

When people do show symptoms, it is during the acute phase, the first few weeks after infection. An infected person might experience mild symptoms, such as fever, aches, and fatigue. The most noticeable sign of infection is called Romaña’s sign – when the eyelids near the point of infection start to swell.

During the chronic phase, cardiac or intestinal complications can develop.

Controlling the Kissing Bug Population

There are antiparasitic drugs on the market that can treat Chagas, but considering how rarely the disease goes detected, the best offense is a good defense. The most effective way to do this is by controlling the kissing bug population.

Kissing bugs like to hang out under porches, in dog houses, and under piles of rocks and wood. To prevent infestation, seal cracks and gaps, remove wood or rock piles near your home, and don’t let pets sleep outdoors. Roach hotels and other bait-like traps don’t work against kissing bugs.

Your chances of being bitten by a Triatomine bug are relatively low, but if you suspect you have been bitten, don’t ignore it – talk to your doctor immediately. [3]

In a May, 2017 study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, infection with Chagas was found to increase risk of death by 2 to 3 times from all causes.

Dr. Ligia Capuani, an infectious disease researcher at Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Sao Paulo, in Brazil, who led the research, said:

“In every age category, people who had Chagas died more than people who didn’t have Chagas. So if you’re infected early in life, you should be treated.” [1]

Sources:

[1] Pulse Headlines

[2] Good Housekeeping

[3] CNN

Pulse Headlines

CDC


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Deadly Fungus Spreads Through U.S. Healthcare Facilities

The number of cases of Candida auris (C. auris), a dangerous multidrug-resistant fungus, in the U.S. has grown from 7 to 122 over the past 9 months, the CDC says in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report[1]

C. auris can cause severe illness and high mortality (60%), especially among patients who are in intensive-care units, those with a central venous catheter, and people who have received antibiotics or antifungal medications. [1] [2]

Sharon Tsay, lead author and an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC, says:

“It seems to affect the sickest of the sick patients, particularly those in hospitals and nursing homes with other medical problems.” [1]

There have been 77 confirmed cases of C. auris in U.S. hospitals. Upon examining the patients’ close contacts, another 45 cases were identified, for a total of 122 U.S. patients with the fungal infection as of May 12. Among the original 77 patients, the patients’ average age was 70, and 55% were men.

Read: First Cases of Drug-Resistant Candida Auris Spreading in U.S. Hospitals

Of the 122 total cases, the majority were reported in healthcare facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Most of the patients were chronically ill and spent long stretches at high-acuity skilled nursing facilities. [2]

According to the CDC:

“In Illinois, 3 cases were associated with the same long-term care facility. In New York and New Jersey, cases were identified in multiple acute care hospitals, but further investigation found most had overlapping stays at interconnected long-term care facilities and acute care hospitals within a limited geographic area. The case in Massachusetts was linked to the Illinois cases.”

The good news: none of the infections reported in the U.S. were resistant to all available antifungal drugs. However, according to Paige Armstrong, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer for the CDC, the fungus is “acting a lot like some super bacteria that we’ve seen previously.” [1]

CDC analysis of the first 35 clinical isolates showed that 86% were resistant to fluconazole, 43% were resistant to amphotericin B, and 3% were resistant to echinocandins. [2]

Invasive candidiasis – when the yeast gets into the bloodstream – is the most dangerous type of fungal infection. But C. auris can also make its way into respiratory tract, urine, bile fluid and even bone, leaving doctors scratching their heads as to why the fungus seems to linger, and what other infections it might cause. [3]

Read: Deadly Fungal Infection a Growing Concern in U.S. Hospitals

Says Tsay:

“The fact that it has been found in other sites may also reflect its ability to persist on a patient’s body and be spread in the environment around them – one of (the) reasons that C. auris is causing outbreaks.”

The CDC is monitoring the situation. New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said during a recent press conference:

“It is important for New Yorkers to understand C. auris poses no risk to the general public. We’re taking aggressive actions to contain its spread in hospitals and nursing homes.”

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Medscape

[3] Science Alert

CNN


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Fears of Tick-Borne Powassan Virus Increasing, Experts Warn

After working in the garden or taking a walk in the woods, it’s a good common practice to check your body for ticks; but it’s not just Lyme disease you have to worry about anymore. Experts are warning that the Powassan virus, a tick-borne virus that can cause dangerous inflammation in the brain, may be transmitted even faster than Lyme. [1]

Powassan is still considered a rare disease; but a recent study of ticks in Maine, as well as a few widely-reported cases of human infection, suggest that the virus may becoming more common.

The Powassan Threat

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Powassan virus neuroinvasive disease cases reported by state, 2004–2013

The Powassan virus can cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and it kills approximately 10-15% of people who become sick, according to the CDC. Half of those infected are left with permanent neurological problems. [1] [2]

Read: Powassan Virus: ‘Ticks Now Carrying Virus Worse than Lyme Disease

Dr. Jennifer Lyons, Chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says:

“About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going TO? survive. Of the survivors, at least 50% will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve.” [2]

First identified in 1958, Powassan was recognized in the type of deer ticks that bite humans and also carry Lyme disease in the mid-1990s. Over the past decade, the CDC has received about 75 reports of the virus in humans, primarily in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. [1]

Scientists at the Maine Medical Research Center decided to test ticks at various sites from across the state after a Maine woman died a few weeks after being bitten by a tick and contracting Powassan virus in 2013. Two other cases were also identified.

The researchers said they “were kind of surprised” that they found as much of the virus as they did. Out of 203 different pools of adult ticks – meaning all of the ticks collected from a given area – 15 tested positive for Powassan. The researchers also found that populations of deer ticks were increasing in several areas of the state.

Now scientists are especially concerned because experts are predicting that 2017 will be an especially bad year for ticks in the Northeast. Not only is the virus transmitted much faster than Lyme, it’s also deadlier. Animal studies show that Powassan virus could be passed from tick to host after only about 15 minutes of attachment. It takes 24 hours for Lyme disease to be transmitted.

Symptoms

Source: Valley News Live

Not everyone who is infected with Powassan will show symptoms. Those who do typically become sick a few days to about a week after being bitten by an infected tick. For the most part, people who become ill experience flu-like symptoms. Lyons says that these can include:

“muscle aches and pains; maybe you have a little rash on your skin, but almost certainly, you’ll have a fever and the headache.” [2]

Those who become seriously ill will do so “very quickly over the next couple of days,” Lyons explains, adding:

“You start to develop difficulties with maintaining your consciousness and your cognition. … You may develop seizures. You may develop inability to breathe on your own.” [2]

There is no way of preventing or treating Powassan virus. Says Lyons:

“There are some experimental therapies we try when somebody comes in and they get here early enough and we get the therapy started early enough, but we have no idea if any of that works.” [2]

Prevention

The best way to avoid Powassan (and Lyme, for that matter) is to prevent being bitten by a tick. Avoid highly brushy areas when you’re in the woods. Wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible, use natural tick repellent, and check your entire body for the blood-sucking insects after being outdoors.

Read: How to Keep Ticks off of You, and Get Rid of Them If Needed

Don’t be afraid of “catching” Powassan virus. Your chances of being infected are very low. Take the right preventative measures and you should be fine.

Dr. Susan Paskewitz, Chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says:

“I don’t think people need to be fearful of it because it is so rare, but it is out there and it is one more reason for people to do those careful tick checks at the end of the day, or try to reduce your contact with them to begin with.” [3]

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] CNN

[3] CBS News

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Valley News Live


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