One year to the day after Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola, Louise Troh sat with Lake Highlands Women’s League book club members to discuss her book, “My Spirit Took You In.” She was accompanied by her pastor, Wilshire Baptist Church’s George Mason, who was often at her side through the ordeal as Ebola rocked her world and had the nation’s eyes riveted on Dallas.
“Some of the best examples of virtue were evident in this story, and some of the worst,” admitted Mason. “People jumping to conclusions – it was an extremely painful time. Both Louise and Eric were made out to be villains, yet were not able to defend themselves. Not being able to speak, not being able to tell their stories –some of that I had to do, and that was a challenge.”
“It was like living in a vortex,” continued Mason, “having the world trying to find you, making promises to you of what they will do for you if you will just grant an interview. But we learned a lot. And Louise is a survivor.”
That she is.
Having lunch with Troh is like having lunch with your pastor’s wife. Most sentences begin (and end) with reassurances of how good God is.
“About 4 o’clock last year I was in a hot fire,” the mother of 9 living children told us. “I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know if we were going to survive. Everything under the sun is vanity.”
Mason continues to be protective – and proud – of Troh.
“Louise is the only one who lost everything,” said Mason. “The reaction of the Dallas County Health Department was to destroy everything to make sure everything was cleaned. Well, everything WAS cleaned. Until now, no one has really understood how Louise and [daughter] Youngor were really heroines in this situation. With their medical background and experience working in healthcare, they prevented the infection from spreading. Nobody gives them credit for keeping this from spreading. I think, finally, the Dallas Morning News, a year later, has dug in and realized that they were a factor. But they [the health department] destroyed all of her possessions and there were very few little artifacts that we were able to salvage.
“People came through and helped, but it was kind of like having a fire, you don’t only lose your house, you lose your loved one, too. So, it’s been a very disorienting time, and it’s easy for people to forget. We’re grateful for those who remember and for those who’ve read the book and for those who care.”
As for her book, I found Troh’s first-hand account fascinating. With the help of former Dallas Morning News writer Christine Wicker, she paints a gripping tale of what went on inside the Ivy Apartments. She dispels widely held myths and details Duncan’s two trips to Dallas’ Presbyterian Hospital. But the book is also a love story, set in the war-torn refugee camps where Troh and Duncan first met, and it’s an inspirational story, the tale of a woman who relied on God even when the worst possible threats invaded her life. As a person who thought I knew everything about this story, who had viewed hours of coverage by Anderson Cooper and the other news anchors, I have to admit now I didn’t know a thing. After I finished reading My Spirit Took You In, I closed the book and started reading it a second time.
My Spirit Took You In is available where books are sold and on Amazon.com here.
Today, Troh smiles when she speaks of Karsiah, her son with Duncan who studies at Angelo State University, and of her ninth grade son, Timothy.
“I came here as a refugee, and I went through a lot. Eric died for everyone to pay attention to Ebola. Now, Ebola is gone, and Eric is in a better place. His life was a sacrifice.
“People asked me if I would sue. I said, ‘no, why would I sue? I give it to the good Lord.’
“Eric had a good mind and a good heart. He helped my daughter and he helped that pregnant girl. Now, I’m preparing to open a non-profit foundation to help women and children.”
If you’d like to contribute to Troh’s new foundation, you can mail a check to Wilshire Baptist Church, 4316 Abrams Road, 75214, and they will pass along your donation to Louise Troh.