I honestly have never felt so ill, at first Malaria didn’t even cross my mind but as my symptoms seemed to get worse there was no questioning it!
It started with a fever, luckily though, I managed to have a window seat on the 10 hour bus journey back from the lake. So when I was too hot I could open the window, or too cold I could wrap up in every item of clothing I took to the lake! When we finally pulled to a stop in Zomba and I felt so dizzy I fell into other passengers and felt extremely sick. Sadly though, many believed I was just hungover!
The following morning my muscles ached so much I could barely walk, even the few metres to the bathroom seemed impossible! When I would return I’d collapse with no energy. I also had a huge headache and a sharp pain in my stomach, so much so that breathing and changing positions in bed was unbearable!
That evening a local doctor came round to test me for Malaria by doing a finger prick and then placing the blood on what looked like a pregnancy test. He kept adding liquid for 10 minutes but as two lines didn’t come up, he said I was negative for malaria parasites. So I was due the following morning to get anti- biotic’s off of him at the hospital.
I was up all night throwing up so the volunteers all said they think it was best I visited a private hospital instead. I climbed on the back of a njinga whilst wearing a huge jumper and made a code with the driver incase I needed to vomit. He drove slowly over the bumpy roads, which I really appreciated as it showed he cared and wasn’t just after the money!
I then had to get a bus, by this time I was exhausted. When we arrived in the right town I then had to walk 5 minutes to the hospital, it took all of my strength so when we finally reached outside I collapsed. I slept whilst my friend Fiona tracked down the dutch nurse. After 20 minutes we found her and she told us where to register. I was finally seen to, and after explaining all of my symptoms I was booked in for a blood test. This terrified me as I didn’t want to use their needles, but I had no choice, the only thing I could do was make sure it was from a sealed packet.
I then feel asleep again for another 30 minutes before I got my results. We were then seen almost straight away and I was told I had malaria +1 and a blood infection, most likely caused by dirt in a mosquito bite. I was so dehydrated by this point I could barely function, so I slept again on a bench whilst my friend waited in line for over an hour for the medication. Altogether it cost me around £10! I had to take ‘Lar’ which was for the malaria, 4 tablets morning and night and 6 tablets for the blood infection and another two unknown pills.
Fiona then went off to do some shopping whilst I downed many drinks whilst sitting on a bench. A local came unto me and right away asked “Malaria?” I nodded my head at him and he gave me a sympathetic look as he couldn’t speak English.
Over the next few days I gained strength to count my malarone anti malarial tablets and discovered I hadn’t missed any, I had just been unlucky. I definitely had been as the tablets cost over £300 and I still managed to get malaria. I was then told I most likely got it at the ‘Black missionaries’ as I could’ve been dehydrated due to drinking alcohol as it makes you more susceptible, which I wished I had known at the time. After three days my symptoms were all gone apart from feeling exhausted, which really frustrated me as I finally felt fine apart from that!
But now I am healthy although it could strike again at anytime over the next three years.