I was diagnosed with Malaria by blood test, and took the cure here in Lome, Togo.
I have traveled 12 years of my life in Tropical countries, constantly aware there was mosquitoes around that could bite me and give me Malaria. Even though I have traveled for years, only in the last couple of days I have been able to wrap my mind around the questions,
"What is Malaria?"
Moreover, what should be the next question?
"How do I cure or stop Malaria?"
I may or may not have had Malaria in Bamako, Mali a couple of years ago, I did not go the doctor and get a blood test, so I am not sure, I think I took the cure, it is a hazy memory. I thought I had Malaria in Niamey, Niger, but I am sure that was food poisoning now, but I also took the Malaria pill cure.
Rites of Passage
I sometimes think about Rites of Passage, when someone starts talking about travel I can ask a few pertinent questions and access their travels.
"More than three years?"
"Bus from Chile to Punta Arenas?"
"Moyale, Ethiopia to Kenya?"
Well, maybe to learn the word "Paludisme" up close and personal is one these things that "leaves the West behind." Paludisme is the word for Malaria in French Africa, I have another thing to say happened to me while traveling.
Lome, West Africa --- Monday, December 6, 2010
What is Malaria?
Malaria killed about 60,000 soldiers in WW II.
Five million people die around the planet every year.
Malaria is a parasite that attacks the blood cells and kills them, until finally the body dies from lack of oxygen, shock, or goes into a coma.
Mosquitoes that have bitten another person or animal infected with Malaria carries the parasites in the saliva, and when it bites you, the saliva enters you body and starts to parasite attack…
The symptoms of Malaria are complete lost of energy, headaches, dulled mental ability and constant sleeping. A person that has Malaria has trouble moving or getting out of bed. Normally in Tropical environments, you can ask any pharmacist and they will help you to know quickly.
Sleeping, I think this is a way to diagnose Malaria in a strange way; people who have Malaria sleep as if they are completely drunk, and their bodies lie in bed as if they passed out on the couch from drinking all night.
The best cure is to go to a clinic or hospital and they will put a half liter of medical fluid into your body by intravenous injection. If you are going out of range of a hospital, then you can carry with you Malaria Medicine pills. The cure is easy enough, just too expensive for many of the locals to adequately utilize rapidly.
First Day of Treatment
Woke up, I had already started a regime of Malaria pills, however, I was not being positive whether I had Malaria or not. Lying in my room, this girl I knows stops to check on me, I ask,
"How do I get a blood test?"
My coder in India had been drilling me on the need for a blood test. She said to me that it was very easy and she would go with me, in a weak state, my mind is blurry, she in a very commanding way dragged me to the Doctor.
This was mass confusion for me; normally I would expect a medical office to have a very well defined, step-by-step process on how to proceed. There is a Casse where you must first pay for the Doctor, I paid my four dollars and we went and knocked on the pre-Doctor exam area where they weighed me, took my pressure, etc.
I then was told to weight in line, I am having a lot of trouble standing, sitting or doing anything other than lie in bed like a sack of potatoes. I was sick, however was required to sit there and watch as numerous people cut line, truly there was no system for entering or leaving the office of the Doctor, a free for all. I finally had enough of this stupid push and shove system of being in line and pushed my way to the front and went into the Doctors office. Lines or queues are never respected, as if we are a bunch of cows pushing to the water trough; it is very hard to have a respect for the people at these moments.
I entered a room with 10 beds with no sheets, the fan is off and hot, there are no curtains on the window that need curtains, but there are curtains on the ones that do not need them. It is more of what you would imagine an M.A.S.H Army Hospital tent to look like, full of small things that do not work or should not be there, but the place does work.
I lied down on bed, my commando friend has somehow found a sheet, and I am lying there after already waiting in line for two hours thinking to myself,
"The Malaria pills would have worked, do I need four more hours of torture."
I have a fever, my head is throbbing, I am soaked with perspiration and in a room about 95 degrees with no fan on. --- I turned the fan on, and the nurse turned it off because one boy had chills. This is a room with 10 beds.
Notice the drop in weight, the scales did not work, it was fun to watch the male nurse kick them, I tried to explain this weight lost was not possible.
The Only Enjoyment of the Day
I rather regained some sense in my head when I looked across at this stunningly beautiful girl. There is this small boy standing on the bed, he is about one and a half years old and can walk great. I thought the mother was his sister; there is nothing about her that looks like a mother. Well the boy is standing there, grabs her top and pulls out this perfectly round shaped tit, a beauty. He than proceeds to suck on it as if it was the best on the planet while standing. I was laughing to myself; wow, this boy is energetic. Normally small babies or infants do not control the mother, this boy for four hours tackled his mother at ever chance ripping down the top of her dress.
His mother was half Nigerian and spoke more English than anybody, so she was talking to me. Now, it is hard to concentrate, I am never sure where to look a way or stare. This little boy during a conversation would pull her top down and start to play with this enormous perfect nipple. It was as if he was completed addicted to the thing, if he was not sucking on it, he was admiring it. She was frustrated, short of tying, him done there was no way to stop him.
Two hours of sweating in line and four hours of sweating in the treatment room, with only a tit to look at, sort of a confused set of feelings.
I am done, the want me to sit in line again, I just went and walked into the office, I am told I need to return the next day.
The offices had the ability to be top notch, the problem was the building, and it was just doing small things, why cannot they fix a fan. Why no curtains, why no sheets, why is there no way to buy water for patients at the hospital. They had all the best possible and looked like they never learned how to clean or organize anything, there was nobody in charge of the asylum, but it functioned. In the end, this often all that Africa is done, the absolute minimums, nothing more than one-step above @$@@$@%%%. Yet surrounded by all this, they cured my Malaria.
To see all the Photos, click on this link, then continue to click on newer. Malaria Ward Photos
After the experience, I know it is one of them I will never forget, like going down the Amazon River, I do not like to recommend that people sign up for torture, but I am glad I did it.