Dear Brother and Sister Mackay -
As an update regarding Elder Mackay's health situation: My wife and I visited him in the Adventist Hospital yesterday evening. He had experienced some fever and chills, so we encouraged him to go to the hospital for some evaluation.
He was admitted with dengue fever and with proper care his temperature and other physiological parameters are returning to normal. Since we are located in the Amazon rain forest, we are exposed to certain diseases that are not common elsewhere, so there are many misconceptions regarding their severity. Since we arrived in Brazil in late June, we have had six missionaries with confirmed cases of dengue fever. It is a hemorrhagic virus transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. During the summer months (rainy season), these mosquitoes can breed more readily in standing water and become more of a threat. He had the windows closed in his apartment and used air conditioning at night, but now understands that this particular type of mosquito is most prevalent during the daytime and will use the insect repellent that we provide regularly to all missionaries.
He is currently still in the hospital. His fever and blood pressure are resolved and the hospital is waiting for his platelet count to reach normal levels. Typical course for dengue fever is about a week and he is about halfway through that time - only entered the hospital yesterday but experienced early symptoms Saturday/Sunday. His release depends upon platelet rebound but should be within the week. I have not seen test results personally, but a physician confirmed the test results with Elder Mackay and Elder Hodges and Elder Cain, who were with him at the time.
This illness has interrupted temporarily immediate thoughts of receiving hernia surgery. When I first met with Elder Mackay last night, his attitude was quite negative regarding the hospital, level of care, etc. We talked frankly about his condition and the apparent reality that his attitude may contribute to the pain associated with his illness, particularly in regard to the elevated blood pressure that was causing his headaches. We discussed the epinephrine-associated fight-or-flight response, the results of his anxiety on blood pressure, headaches, pain and other responses, and some suggestions for breaking the cycle through relaxation breathing and other techniques.
I will follow up with him. It is likely that, owing to his hospitalization, he will be unable to send his normal weekly message to you. When you get a chance to communicate with him, please provide your assessment of his attitude. We want to do everything possible to support his recovery: so much of that recovery depends upon his positive attitude.