I remember clearly the morning I woke up and couldn't walk. I literally dragged myself out of my bed and down the hallway of our modest house in Whangarei to get help from my family. I remember the day because it was our school athletics competition and I wanted to be outside racing with the other 9-year olds.
Instead I was taken to hospital. It was just the first day of weeks confined to a hospital bed being misdiagnosed several times, before they found I had rheumatic fever.
Months in hospital followed to repair a hole in my heart and get me strong enough to walk again. I had to have monthly penicillin injections for the next 10 years.
More awareness of symptoms and early treatment is essential but we need to look at the possible causes. Knowing what a gruelling experience the illness can be, I think prevention is the best strategy.