Twenty-plus years of total immunity didn't prepare me for this event. Hoooo-yay, did that plasmodium get me good! I'm talking about malaria, that putrid parasite from hell. This disease is beyond nastiness- of all the ailments I have ever had this is the only one that I would gladly trade for a full-technicolor effects aches-and-shakes migraine headache.
Like most absurdly healthy people, I am an absolute horror when sick. Stoic to the point of stupidity, I spent at least two days reading up on malaria when someone suggested it might be the cause of my stomach ache rather than go to the hospital. After all, it never happened to me, right? Right. I even had the gall to sweat through my liver exploding- twice- rather than admit that I might have to go for a simple. Fricking. Test. Because it doesn't happen to me, right? Right.
Let me tell you what it feels like when those little buggers explode out of your liver. It feels like maybe you have a mild stomach ache at first- kinda like a gas bubble, right up high by your diaphragm. Then it brings The Pain. The Pain is like a supernova has gone off inside your body. It's a cross between the evillest period cramp on earth and a sword thrust through your gut. It's like being vivisected without anasthesia. I was soaked in a cold and clammy sweat, but the high pain threshold withheld the mercy of passing out. So did I heed the advice I was given? No, because I don't get malaria, right? Right.
Well, this story pretty much ends with me availing myself of Tanga's private clinic services on a fine Saturday morning. I threw in the towel, went to get tested and endured what has got to be the slowest and most disinterested medical service on the face of the planet*. Four prescriptions and 25,000 shillings later, it was time to ponder the wisdom of my health policies. What I learned is this: no sane person actually lets their liver explode twice. And: sweet Jesus, children under five are the most vulnerable to this fresh hell? Oh no :(
And finally: thank God for modern medicine. I love it. I love the little yellow pills that take the pain away, and I love the fat white pills that take the pain and the fever away. I love my cantankerous doctor who didn't even check if there were contra-indications with the drugs I told him I was using to treat the stomach ache that wasn't a stomach ache, even though combining them might have killed me (he neglected to say stop using the other ones). I love the slow-ass pharmacist who took forever to get me the pills. The happy, happy pills that took all that pain away. I love the impressively patient people who cajoled/bullied me back to health. I love the trees, I love the air, I love hearing music even though I think I might still be missing a few tones because something went funny when I started taking the pills. I love life, even if my limbs are too weak to do much for the next week or so.
You want to know what love is? Love is the absence of pain. Simple, but true. And that's a lesson I got from malaria. I guess I love malaria too. This might be the delirium talking.
*I am ashamed to say it, but at one point I was ready to elbow a sick old lady and a couple with an evidently feverish child out of my way to get to the doctor before he disappeared for yet another tea break or whatever the (expletive deleted) doctors on duty do when they aren't treating the people who have been waiting for them all (expletive deleted) morning. It got that feral.