Poison in the Creek–a revised re-post

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

That creek behind our house was dangerous–that was when we lived in Rio de Janeiro. But we had no idea what the dirty little creek had waiting for us. Our home was in Méier, one of the suburbs on the main commuter line from the center of the city. Doris recalls that the creek carried run-off water and the effluent from a nearby hospital.

Yet the creek attracted the boys in the neighbourhood for little minnows survived in that water. So the lads would take a bottle and scramble down to the creek where they might snatch up one of the fish. What a delightful experience for the boys, but that is when the trouble began!

Sorry, but I don’t have a picture of our son at five years. This was a year of two before our time in Rio.


Our son Vernon was then about five years old and played with other boys who lived nearby. That was easy for Portuguese was his first language. Together they climbed down to the creek to “go fishing.” We feared this dirty creek so we warned our son not to go near it. Yet he went fishing with his friends—how many times we’ll never know. For certain he paid little attention to our warnings for all his friends were doing it. So why not go fishing?

Pollution and diseases were of little concern for his friends were excited about catching a few minnows. That was when he came down with hepatitis–the water carried the disease. Since hepatitis is contagious, shortly after Vernon became sick he passed it on to Doris. When tests showed hepatitis we knew we had a major health problem on our hands.

A picture of Doris a while before our time in Rio.

The question was how to medicate two very sick people in bed with hepatitis. Only a doctor could help us, but I do not recall how we found the one we did. This I know, 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. There the doctor had no easy answers but decided to try his luck on what was thought an inadequate treatment. He gave the sick Indians massive shots of Chloromycitin—even though it was not recommended. There in the jungle his shot in the dark (the pun is intended) was successful.

As I now think and write about our situation, goose bumps rise up all over my body. You see this is one of those wonderful situations where I believe God sent his angels to provide a solution. This doctor confined Vernon and Doris to total bed rest. Doris could be a good patient but for a five year old to be quiet was a nearly impossibility. I became their caretaker and the chief cook and bottle washer for our home. (I wonder now how either of them ever survived.)

Doris, well and happy in Rio with hepatitis in the past.


So that is exactly how this doctor cared 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 a hand, in this case a doctor who had a cure.

At the moment, my memory carries me back to the contagious water in the creek and how our son Vernon and Doris became so sick with hepatitis. Then my mind ties those thoughts not just to God’s angels but to the Christian faith. You see, the Faith too is contagious in a healthful way. It motivates every believer to live well in this world and provides hope for eternity. What a wonderful contagion! I trust you’ve already picked up this bug of faith, faith in our Lord Jesus.


2 thoughts on “Poison in the Creek–a revised re-post

  1. Bryan Cooke

    I was 6 when I contracted hepatitis in Egypt. I missed 3 months of school. The worst of it is that for the first time in my life I inherited asthma, which I still have. I remember one particular night when I had an asthma attack. I’m sure it was going to be the end for me because in rural Egypt one doesn’t just go to the Emergency department. Where my parents found a doctor and medicine that night is just a blur. Like your story Uncle Roy, miracles do happen, but for Christians these moments in our life only mean something when we ponder on Christ’s love for us while we were yet sinners! He had a bigger plan and purpose for our lives.


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