Saturday, October 17, 2009

the badge of honour

In the early days, I was religious about Malarone. I filled my prescriptions before trips, and popped each pill feeling pretty good about the fact that I was being so responsible. That was until a) my health insurance coverage ended, and b) I actually moved to Uganda. It seems that no one who actually lives here long-term really takes the stuff. When I got here in February, I started myself on Mefloquine. After weeks of waking up bathed in sweat and immersed in fear from my freakish dreams, I called it quits. I'd started having nightmares that were turning happy memories into scary, non-sensical, apocalyptic scenes. I figured malaria would be better than that.

So, it's no wonder that eventually, my time would run out, as it did earlier this month. I was as busy as ever, looking forward to a packed week of One Mango Tree tasks, when I woke up Monday morning with the vague feeling that something was off. Very off. You know it's pretty far off when I wind up at The Surgery. The faint pink line showed I was prego with parasites, so the doc loaded me up with killer medicines and sent me home to misery.

What's malaria like? cold I must wrap myself in lots of blankets...then so hot I can't stop drinking water and feel delirious (104 degrees hot), then bathing in sweat. 20 mins of feeling exhausted and sort of okay, and then all over again. Then hips aching and aching - then lower back, then add in a pounding headache. 3 liters of water every day - my skin never looked or felt better, but those little parasites kicked my ass for the better part of a full week.

People kept joking that I was earning the African badge of honour, and I promptly replied that the badge was stupid. In hindsight, I realize I now share one more thing with Kapuscinski, and am happy to brag that I, for one gross week in early October, was his sister in African illness suffering.