Africa gets into your blood …

Those more poetic than I have often suggested, in hyperbolic fashion, that Africa gets under your skin and into your blood.

What they are suggesting – of course – is that once infected with affection for this place, it’s hard to distance yourself – literally or metaphorically.

That’s true. But I think – more correctly – it’s a case of Africa gaining entry to your heart than your blood.

Though – needless to say – she has plenty of opportunity to do that too: get into your blood.  She was coursing through my own veins all weekend.

On Saturday after ten days of no appetite (which I put down to sudden and impossibly searing temperatures during the day making it too hot to eat), the odd bout of crippling nausea (which I put down to the fact Africa doesn’t just get under your skin, into your blood and up to your heart, she frequently takes up residence in your bowel where she squats for weeks whilst you make myriad chemical attempts to evict her) and tiredness (attributed to flagging appetite, rising heat and the assumption Africa was in gut) I had had enough and decided there must be some other cause. So I took myself off to the local clinic, with Hat in tow (having sworn on my life that if anybody was going to be subjected to a blood test, it would not be her).  

The clinic is full of ranks of patient Africans sitting quietly, reverently almost, on benches lined up in tight rows. Our arrival is monitored by hundreds of pairs of interested eyes, a welcome, if brief, change of tempo to the monotony of waiting. The doctor advises me – because I can clearly afford it unlike the dozens silently observing me- to opt for Fast Track Treatment. This means I will be shunted to the head of the queue, she says. I am. And I pay the requisite amount for the privelige, the equivalent of a dollar.

The lab technician pricks my finger and smears blood onto a slide. Hat winces and looks away. Then he instructs me to wait for the results. I do, whilst I read to Hat to distract her from the howls of distressed babies being subjected to same finger prick as I have been.

Twenty minutes later and I am ushered by a white coated lab assistant into a doctor’s office. The doctor reads my test results, ”Malaria”, he announces.

Malaria? I say (with some degree of outrage given my vigilence to avoid being bitten: I go to bed slippery as an eel with all the repellent I splash on; I burn mosquito coils, our windows are screened, we sleep under nets: how can I have malaria?).

Yes. Malaria, he says pragmatically. This region is endemic: a local person in a normal house (and yours is not normal, he reminds me, you are priveliaged, yours has netting on the windows) can expect up to 300 infected bites a years. Almost one every night.

Why didn’t malaria present as it does characteristically I want to know: fevers and chills and aches and pains.

You’ve had it before?

I have.

Your partial immunity alters the symptoms and beside malaria in endemic regions can change it’s guise. It’s very clever.

He tells me what to take.

I do. A dose a day for three days. Whilst flopping about pathetically on my bed alternating between hot crossness that I don’t have the energy to do anything, and crazy dreams in which I am tearing about doing too much. So that I wake exhausted.

Much as I love this place, I’d rather Africa wasn’t in my blood, thanks very much.

10 Responses to “Africa gets into your blood …”

  1. Potty Mummy Says:

    Rather throws the snot-fest my youngest has been subjected to over the last few days into sharp relief. Get well soon RM.

  2. Roberta Says:

    Oh No! I’m so sorry. Please rest and mend.

  3. lifeonaboat Says:

    Hi RM, so sorry to hear you not well. Get well soon. Really enjoying your blog as much as ever. Hope you can get plenty of rest.
    Love Hat’s crystal ball adventures. What a fab imagination.

  4. Mzungu Chick Says:

    Pole Memsahib. Utapona. X

  5. Carolyn Says:

    Crazy dreams – did they give you larium? Heehee, that does crazy stuff to your dreams.

    Get well soon. A good rest will be great for you, and take care of yourself. Maybe Medusa has something that could help?

  6. summer Says:

    As I was reading this I kept checking off the symptoms as those I’ve had for the past 5 weeks…thinking for sure the end of the story would be “I’m pregnant” as it was for me…I’ll admit I was a bit sad when I read ‘Malaria’. No comfort in those symptoms when a nasty disease is the culprit. I hope you get better soon and that the dreams aren’t so haunting that they stick with you even when malaria is a distant memory.

  7. R. Sherman Says:

    Best wishes. I recommend an occasional shot of bourbon whiskey for these things. It may not help, but it certainly won’t make you feel any worse.


  8. iota Says:

    The whiskey sounds a good idea. Otherwise rest plenty…

    I’m so sorry to hear this.

  9. Tom Says:

    It seems that Dengue Fever in at least four varieties is becoming an epidemic here in the Western Hemisphere. Bloody mosquitoes!!

    Take care.

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you all very much. Sadly the whiskey is out, poor old liver so hammered first by malaria and then by the cure that my sortie out is going to be a dry one. Still – at least it’s ”out”! More soon.

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