21 November 2005

Cerebral malaria

As I said, the day George Ng. died, 12 November, I fell ill with a nasty case of malaria myself.

At first I didn't think much of the excruciating headache (and all the other joint aches) that went with the high fever (up to 41,3 C, never below 39 C). By Sunday I was however biting my pillow and holding back the tears, so maddening had the pain become. The doctor, PYL, who is a project manager in my section and whom we call by his initials, told me that the headache was not just a usual symptom, but that I had crossed the line to a cerebral malaria. The pain I felt were the red blood cells popping out the parasites in large numbers. We re now killing them with generous doses of Coartem, and it seems to work, the fever has gone, but I am still weak..

It was also the first time I had the typical malaria cold shiver experience: airco off, at least 30 C in the bedroom, two sets of pyjamas, 5 sheets and blankets on top of me and my teeth were clattering!

What worries me a little is that I can't walk straight at the moment, PYL says the malaria may have affected my sense of equilibrium. I sure hope this is temporary??

By merely tapping my chest (he couldn t make me cough because my head would have tumbled off, a red hot cauldron of pain) he also diagnosed a beginning .... pneumonia, in this country where the temperature never come below 24....... I've stopped asking questions. So I am taking more antibiotics, on top of the ones that had already been given over the past two months. What can I do, herbal medicine does not seem a viable option in this germ-infested country.....

Last Friday I thought I was well enough to go over to the office and check my e-mails. The results were not great: I was assured by all that I looked like a living corpse, and had to go home after less than two hours, exhausted. The few e-mails I wrote were in the most atrocious French that I had managed since my arrival here a year ago according to a trusted friend and colleague. Moreover, one e-mail, a reply to Headquarters, was apparently so bad-tempered and bordering on the abusive (usually they are only bad-tempered...) that it had to be overruled by my boss, as he most obligingly told me a few days later when he paid me a visit at home. The lesson is clear: I am now under strict instructions by doctor, boss and wife alike to do absolutely nothing and let my body and brains recuperate until further order.

Anyway, that's also the end of this family's little experiment with no preventative drugs (which are not harmless either) but treat as you go, as many people do here. This malaria attack was vicious, and with a lesser doctor than good old PYL , where would I have been.... (that French Embassy shit-for-brains comes to mind again...) We'll all go back on Savarin.


Blogger David said...

Holy crap! You have what? Haven't you been drinking your gin and tonics? I am so sorry! I hope A. keeps up with all the extra work. My parents are visting and send love to all.

November 26, 2005 1:14 AM  

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