“To enjoy the things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest bearing on excellence of the character.” Aristotle

When we lived in Rio de Janeiro, we had no idea what the little dirty creek behind our home had waiting for us. Our home was in Méier, one of the suburbs of Rio on the main commuter line from the center of the city. Though the area might have been considered middle class, yet the city was not quite able to do a top job in sanitation. Doris recalls that the creek carried not only run-off water but effluent from a nearby hospital. That creek was dangerous.

But it was also supremely attractive to boys in the neighbourhood for little minnows survived in that water. So the lads would take a bottle or a can and scramble down to the creek. There they might corner and snatch up one of the fish. What a delightful experience for the boys, but that is when the trouble began.

Our son Vernon was then about five years old and had made contact with other boys who lived nearby. That was possible for Portuguese was his first language. As a result he would go down to the creek with them to “go fishing.” Since our imagination told us all sorts of things about this dirty creek, we warned our son not to go near it. How many times he went fishing with his friends I’ll never know. This is for certain, he paid little attention to our warnings. Why not go fishing? All his friends were doing it.

Pollution and diseases were of little concern to him. What was important was his friends and the excitement of catching a few of the minnows. That was when he came down with hepatitis. The water of course was contagious with diseases. Of course hepatitis itself is contagious. So shortly after Vernon became sick, Doris came down with the same bug. We knew we had a major problem on our hands when tests showed hepatitis. Hepatitis is a serious disease.

As I now think about our situation and continue to write, goose bumps raise up all over my body. You see this is one of those fortuitous situations where I believe God sends his angels to provide solutions. Of course Vernon and Doris were confined to total bed rest. Doris could be a good patient but for a five year old to be quiet was a near impossibility. Having me as both caretaker and chief bottle washer took care of the home logistics but…

how do we medicate two very sick people in bed with hepatitis. We needed a doctor to help us though I do not recall how we found the one we did. Was this doctor referred through a friend or a newspaper ad? I have no idea but this I know that we had the best medical person in all of Rio de Janeiro when it came to treating hepatitis.

The story is remarkable. This doctor had worked with an Indian tribe in the interior of Brazil, a tribe struggling with an epidemic of hepatitis. The doctor knew he had no easy answers but decided try his luck instead of inadequate treatments. So he gave the sick people massive shots of Chloromycitin—even though it was not recommended for hepatitis. There in the jungle his stab in the dark (the pun is intended) was successful.

So that is exactly what this doctor prescribed for Doris and Vernon. In about three week’s time both of them were back on their feet. A bit wobbly of course. That story says a lot of things. I’m convinced that when we ask, God sends his angels to give us a hand, this case in the form of a knowledgeable doctor.

Then I think of the water in the creek being contagious and our son Vernon so easily passing it on to Doris. Now my mind ties those thoughts to the Christian faith. It too is contagious in a healthful way. It brings good sense to every believer while they live in this world and it gives hope for all eternity. What a wonderful contagion! I trust you’ve already picked up this bug.


1 thought on “Contagiousness

  1. Grace Bush

    Fantastic post Roy. Signs of hope and faith mixed with the struggles of a family in such a different world then I know. My whole family came down with yellow jaundice and it was terrible it was from the water in Odessa. I remember how sick we all were and then we had a bad bout of water poisoning yes water has so many issues that need to be addressed we are so lucky now. I read every one of your stories. Thank you for sharing them. Grace



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