Via Vox.com, a fascinating account by Ashoka Mukpo: I was a journalist covering Ebola in Liberia. Then I caught the virus. Excerpt:
It took about 18 hours to get to Nebraska, and I slept most of the time, running a fever of 104 degrees. When we arrived in the US, my symptoms got worse. I started to vomit. I had diarrhea, a classic symptom associated with contracting Ebola. I was having muscle pains. My eyes were really red. I felt really foggy. My head was swimming. I was very short of breath, and it was hard to talk. I still didn't know if I was going to live or die. I asked the doctor, and he said, "I don't know."
I had 40 nurses tending to me. I always had someone there in the room. Every day, a doctor did a full-body examination to ask me about my symptoms. One day, I got a nosebleed — partly because the climate had changed so much since I left Liberia. But I got afraid that it was the beginning of crazy hemorrhagic symptoms. Thankfully, that was it. I didn't eat for a full three days. They fed me through a line in my neck.
I don't know what helped me and what got me through this. I got a blood plasma transfusion from Kent Brantly, the American doctor who survived Ebola after contracting the disease earlier in 2014. When I was at my sickest — that was a really tough day. I felt like the blood transfusion was making things worse. I felt cold. The next day I woke up and felt much better.
When you have a brush with your own mortality, you see what's important to you boiled down to the bare essentials. It was a frightening experience but also a gift: I got to see what I really care about, what I'm most afraid of losing. The whole experience has been so overwhelming and such a major life break. It provided me with an opportunity to evaluate what I want to accomplish and use my time wisely, because it can be so brief.
My recovery has been much milder than I thought it would be. I was concerned it would take years to get my strength and health back. There are lasting effects: I have joint pain, muscle aches come and go, it's easy for me to pull a muscle, and if I sit in the wrong position I can experience pain. I still have fatigue. I used to be able to run four or five miles, no problem. Now it feels good to get to a mile.
NBC has agreed to help me pay the debt from my treatment and take care of me as someone who is working with them. That is such overwhelming good fortune, to not be saddled with this unpayable debt for the rest of my life.
People said I recovered a bit quicker than some of the other survivors. I have no memory loss. It could have been a lot worse.