By Zachary Gately, MPH - zgately.com
*written Sunday, 13.Oct.2013.
Sweat was pouring off of me as we met last Sunday to discus our plan for the afternoon. A power struggle was going on for the fan. Shannice was cold and covered in hives where as I looked like a new water feature in the SM Hut. Everyone else was comfortable, looking on wondering which one of us was sick. Shannice had both Daniel and Josh betting that she would be the first to contract Malaria, which meant she would have to buy them each a meal in Paris on their flight home. She recently deduced that she was allergic to the Malerone she was taking as prophylaxis, therefore leaving her body ready to host. I, on the other hand, had not been taking any medication as prophylaxis. I had slept poorly and had a slight headache, both of which were not unusual for me here in Chad.
As the day progressed, I took it easy and Shannice was checked out for everything. Her host dad is head of the lab at the hospital and began to mildly freak out when he saw her there. Results showed nothing out of the ordinary other than maybe a slight infection for which she was already being treated. We both felt healthy enough to play volleyball with the rest of the compound and proceeded to lose our first game. We continued playing, won some, lost some more, but over all, we were all just having a good time!
Quite suddenly, things around me started to take a greenish-white hue and the amount of sweat cascading off was more than just from volleyball. I took that as a hint from my body and stepped off the court to have a seat. After my vision cleared mostly, I went back to my room, laid on the floor with my mini fan, and repeated (half out loud), “Don’t be a hero. Don’t be a hero.” Once the sweating ceased and my wave of green had passed, I worked up the courage to ask Tammy what I should do. She went on about how the first 6 months here, she felt physically crummy and that sometimes that’s just how the day (or week) goes when in Chad. Smiling, she glances down, expecting a normal temperature just like the previous two people. In shock, she goes from chuckling small talk to full fledged concerned mother! It’s 100.9F. She can’t believe it so we try the other ear and get 100.6F. With a normal body temperature of 96.2-97.5F, she said its safe to assume that I have Malaria. As Tammy continues with her concerned lecture, she is adamant that I should try Malerone because it is easiest on the body and the fastest working. Like I said earlier, Shannice is now allergic so she has 8 months worth of Malerone for sale! Cha-Ching! I bought by three days worth from her and started instantly.
Now I wish I could tell you that from that point I felt better. I wish I could tell you that it went away faster than it came. That is not the case. At all. Tammy said that I should start to feel better by the next morning. Regardless, the doctor said I should get tested. After no sleep from 2:31 am, I made my way to the SM Hut for water, I ran into Charis who offered to find the doctor to write the order for the test. She brought it back, wished me luck and I headed to the cashier to pay. You have to pay for everything here before you get it: labs, meds, surgeries, and consults. I stood up to pay but the funny green and white vision came over me so I sat back down. The head of the Public Health Department saw me and pushed my lab to the front so I could shakily pay. The guy didn’t give me correct change but I was in no mood to yell at him in broken French. At that point I could hardly hear let alone see so I tried to sit back down to wait it out. Some other guy with enough English skills to saw “come with me” foiled that plan as he lead me to the lab to have my finger pricked. I focused so hard, making every step deliberately and solidly, and every breath in and out as to not vomit on the front steps of the administration building.
The stumbling nasara saw the bed at the lab and I fell into, instantly propping my feet up to get my Malaria infected blood back up to my head. I ignore the other patients stares over the next two hours as I lay sprawled over this mattressless bed awaiting my results.
That is after a dose of Malerone. That is high. Not life threatening high at this point but there is no way my body could heal itself without meds. Tammy can’t believe it and just keeps repeating it as I struggle to stay standing. Naomi, our translator, says “Welcome to Chad” as she goes back to the pharmacy to get me another med that basically explodes Malaria cells.
Over the next two days, I alternate from laying on the floor to stay cool or in my bed with my beaning and Ethiopian Air eye mask. My eyes hurt from not sleeping at night. My body aches all over. Niquil and Z-quil leave my nights restless, too. My body longs for sustenance but my stomach refuses as it feels there is a fist just below my diaphragm. I can’t watch anything that is too funny or too serious. I strongly tear up in every Disney movie I watch. I’d wake up from a nap feeling a little better only to realize I slept for all of 17 minutes. I just feel like I was hit by a MAC truck and hope that it would reverse to finish the job.
Wednesday, I finally feel a little better but still have a massive headache and still have .05% so I do one more day of Malerone and one more day on my floor. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have proven even better but I’m still sweating like none other. I’m told its a side effect of the Malerone so I’m not complaining.
I now have been initiated to Chad and have a passion for eradicating this terrible disease. Haha! I can laugh now because I ruined the bet. Maybe it’s karma because I said I wanted to see how Malaria happened on some one else so I would know what to expect! I have had an up close and personal experience and cannot wait until the day of its doom!
Other than that, the news here would be that I have joint ownership of a three-legged cat, I learned how to ride a motorcycle (Sons of Béré MC?), have been experiencing one of the hottest Octobers, and really could go for an ice cream cone!
Take care and love to all!