Rebecca Johnson is a hero
You don’t know Rebecca Johnson, but she is a hero. She is a courageous Ebola survivor. She was stricken by the disease while working as a nurse at an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone. She wasn’t flown to the United States to be treated in an American hospital. She is a citizen of Sierra Leone and she is black.
She told CNN,
In three days, I could not walk. I was blind, paralyzed, unable to talk or eat. I had a sore throat, body aches and my whole body itched. Blood started coming out of my eyes. I couldn’t sleep. I was awake with pain all of the time. Once, my soul left my body. I saw my body lying down. I almost went insane. I thought, I am going to die, I will not make it. Every single day I cried. Ebola is a very dangerous disease.
During this time, my parents were quarantined. No one could visit me. All of my belongings — my bed, my clothes, my shoes — were burned.
The first thing that happened when I started to feel better is that I was able to eat. I realized, “God still has plans for me.” It took one month to relearn how to talk, to walk, to eat.
When I left the hospital in December, it was not easy. My mom, dad, brothers and sisters embraced me, but others turned their back on me. My friends were scared they would get Ebola. People pointed at me in the street. My parents and I had to leave our community and find a new place to live, far away, where people did not know.
I often say Ebola is a demonic disease, because of what it does to you when you are sick and what it does to you after. I have many friends who died from Ebola. In the hospital ward where I worked, all my medical colleagues who got Ebola died except me. One of my friends lost every member of her family.
Undaunted, she returned to work at the same clinic where she got sick knowing that she is only immune to one strain of Ebola. She is living proof to her patients that they also can get better.
Yet, she did not stop there. She formed an organization called Pink Cross to counsel Ebola survivors regarding how to survive the loss of family and friends and the community shunning that all survivors must endure.
Fear of Ebola may have faded from the conscious awareness of most Americans, but it is still wreaking havoc in West Africa. And it is mutating. Sooner or later, it or something like it, will reach America.
With the exception of a portion of our medical community that responded to the challenge of treating Ebola at hospitals in Atlanta, Nebraska and New York City, America distinguished itself by its panic-driven effort to quarantine travelers from West Africa, including volunteer medical personnel like Kaci Hickox, who was symptom free when she arrived at Newark International Airport in New Jersey.
American exceptionalism? Exceptional fear when it comes to Ebola, but not exceptional courage.
We reserve that badge for snipers who specialize in killing from ambush.