Inspiring Runner: Lisa Ogilvie
It's terrifying that something too small to see can cause immense havoc. A seemingly innoccent holiday to Nigeria left Real Estate Agent, Lisa fighting for her life. Read her story of overcoming a life threatening condition and all the other stresses that come with it...
20 months ago I never thought my life could change so much!
My husband works as a Hotel General Manager in Nigeria. We don’t see each other a lot; sometimes just once every 6 months. He works there to make our lives better. I am so grateful and blessed to have him in my life and for all that he is doing for us.
I went over for a holiday (and to see my husband of course) and to see possible business opportunities in real estate as I was in industry at the time. I didn’t take any malaria tablets because he stays on the coast – Lagos – and malaria is the worst further up north. Everything went well on the holiday and I found a business opportunity opening a real estate office over there. I was finally going to be able to stay and work alongside my husband and was so looking forward to it.
Closer to the end of the holiday I began experiencing terrible stomach pain and made an appointment to see a doctor as soon as I got back to South Africa. The doctors couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary in my blood work, although they did say that my stomach lining had been eaten away from drinking and stress and headache tablets. So 2 weeks went by and I started having more frequent and worsening headaches but I never thought anything of it, assuming it was related to my corroding stomach lining.
3 weeks on, I was feeling worse still. My temperature had skyrocketed; I was vomiting, and experienced sudden losses of consciousness. I lost 10 kg in just one week. During the day was drowsy and slept endlessly, but every evening at 7pm my behaviour changed, I was no longer myself, I was unable to sleep. My condition continued to worsen. It was at this point that my mother decided to take me to the emergency unit at Cape Gate Medical Centre. My doctor, upon hearing my symptoms, immediately asked my mother if and where I had travelled in the past 3 months. Blood tests revealed that I was suffering from severe Cerebral Malaria (caused by a parasite often carried by female mosquitos in parts of Africa).
The doctor said he never seen anything like it before; having only seen patients’ blood cells containing a maximum of 4-5% of the parasite compared to the 27% contained within my cells. I was immediately admitted to the. I was in and out of consciousness, stuffed full of drips and needles. My poor mother was burdened with making the dreaded phone call to my husband – he needed to come down to South Africa and see me – it was bad.
My husband got the first airplane out of Nigeria that very evening and was by my side the next morning. I was unable to speak, required a ventilator to breathe and was weak from having had 8 blood transfusions. I had fluid on my lungs and my liver and kidneys were failing, blood seeped from my nose and mouth.
It felt like a betrayal - my own body was giving up on me.
I was so swollen from the water retention and failing organs, doctors were unable to find a suitable vein in order to medicate me, eventually settling for a vein in my neck. The doctor said there was not a lot that they could do for me anymore. I was put on dialysis as a last resort, to see if my kidneys would respond, although unlikely.
People from all over the world came together to pray for me and for a miracle. My own pastor as well as a pastor that I didn’t know even came to pray for me at my bedside. It was a difficult time for the whole ICU who had come to know me and my story.
My time in the hospital is all a bit of a blur. I am unable to properly recall the events of my time there. One memory stands out in my mind. A memory of my pastor at my bedside, praying for me. I remember turning around to look at him, tears running down my face. I wasn’t ready to die. I must have fallen asleep after that and when I woke up he was gone.
The next day my dialysis was starting to work and my blood count was improving. I wasn’t myself because of the parasite, my skin raw from being heavily medicated for so long, but I was slowly on my way back to health.
Miracles are real. I am a miracle.
My last week in the hospital I started learning to walk again, and soon after was finally allowed to go home. There was a long road ahead of me, I needed 24 hour care. I was lucky enough to have my mother in law offer her help and care. My husband couldn’t stay long because of work, it was very difficult for me.
Two weeks after my husband left I got sick again. This time it was a bacterial infection I picked up from the hospital. My journey seemed never ending. I was readmitted to the hospital for 7 days for fear of my kidneys not coping with the infection. When I finally went back home a week later, my recovery really began. I took a whole year off work and it took me a couple of before I was comfortable working again, it was a traumatic and emotional ordeal and my heart felt heavy. I had to readjust to life, to work to being me. Negative thoughts flooded my waking hours and I was struck by the guilt of being such a burden on my loved ones. I was tired. I cried a lot.
I needed a different kind of help. I saw a health doctor. She put me on a healthy diet - juices and vegetables – “eat fresh, feel fresh”. It helped a lot and I started getting healthier every day. It helped me to view the world, the ordeal, life in a different way.
What a blessing it is to be here and to have a second change at life. I slowly started walking in the evenings. It went on like this for a couple of months. Then last year I thought to myself, “I want to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon again.” It will be my third in 2016. I came across the Cape Kidney Association (an organisation that helps patients with food parcels, study bursaries and anything that patients without medical aid can’t afford) and decided to run for them after personally experiencing kidney failure, I knew it was meant to be. I knew it was God’s plan. I started chatting to Molly Fabe from Cape Kidney. I told her my story and I wanted to run for then because it’s so close to my heart. Molly invited me to be guest speaker and talk about my life journey at one of their functions. It was amazing and so many amazing people that sponsored me. I know that God put Molly from Cape Kidney in my path for a reason and that reason is to help other people and to make a difference.
Today, I am working with cape kidney. We opened a branch in the northern suburbs and I am the branch manageress. I want to raise R21 000 for them. I feel so honored to run for such a beautiful cause.
I wouldn’t change anything in my life now and know that what happened to me was for the best. I love my life and I am living it to the. I thank God every day for my blessing and for saving me and giving me a second chance in life. I thank my wonderful husband for all his support and always being there for me. I couldn’t have done it without him. He is my rock. My family has supported me so much with everything and was with me all the way especially my stunning mother. She has done so much and been there for me so much.
I am a Cerebral Malaria survivor. I am a kidney failure survivor. I am a liver failure survivor… I am alive!