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Monday, September 8, 2008

Prayers for my Malaria-Ridden Soul



Let us consider the mosquito.

In the United States, for the most part, she is just a nuisance. Sure a small few carry West Nile Virus, but in most cases she means no harm. She just wants to drink a bit and move on. In most countries though, she is a bit more malevolant. Drinking and leaving dis-ease behind in the blood[1].

I haven't posted anything about Ghana, because it's hard to put in words. It was fun and special and life-affirming...all that shit...I also got malaria.

Earlier on Datsun Flambe, if you recall, I paid more than $100 for some pills that were supposed to protect me from those malevolent mosquitoes. I hate the smell of Off, so I didn't use it much while I was in Ghana.

Everything's been normal since I came back at the end of July. I was working on the syllabus for the first day of class late at night on that Saturday before Labor Day. All of a sudden I get this headache and start feeling lightheaded. I was in a little stuffy room and had just doused some ants with way more bug spray than needed. Plus, I'd been staring at a computer all day, making zero headway. Of course my head was supposed to hurt.

I wasn't thinking malaria at all.

All weekend, I was up and down. If I rested, symptoms eased, but I needed to finish the syllabus. So there was no rest for the wicked. All this time people were telling me that it was all in my head and that it was just anxiety about teaching my first class. I was shaking and running a fever, could barely turn my head because of the pain and I was imagining it? I've never had a history of anxiety attacks. I've come to find that whenever you have strange symptoms people will tell you that they are psycho-somatic. Perhaps, people don't want to think that those they care about may be facing something powerful and outside of the mind's control. The mind is indeed a powerful thing, but most of the time physical symptoms are the result of physical problems. It's so curious to me that people would suggest the least likely cause rather than the most likely.

When the symptoms were mostly a headache and a neck ache, I guessed that it was because I lost my glasses in Ghana and hadn't worn them in months. If I don't wear my glasses for a while I get bad headaches. By Wednesday, with all the symptoms, I knew it wasn't due to glasses. And after seeing me stumble about people started to realize my mind hadn't conjured it up.

Wednesday night, I went to see a friend to tell him about Ghana, as he is going later this month. I shivered as we sat outside of Borders in Silver Spring. In mid conversation, I abruptly said, "Yo, I gotta go." He saw what shape I was in. I walked to my car shaking like a junkie. I watched the people watching me. I could tell they thought I was on something. I wasn't sure I could even make it to my car.

That night, as much as I wanted to , I couldn't listen to Sarah Palin's bullshit. I wanted to listen and then make wisecracks about it here. Between sickness and getting ready for school, I mssed out on making fun of both the Republican and Deomcratic conventions. Instead of watching Palin yap, I just laid in a darkened room having some very amazing thoughts....about family, art, life, literature. I wish I could have written them down.

That's Malarry for ya, he'll allow you to search your mind to find what you really believe, but he won't allow you the energy to record those thoughts. Tricky bastard.

After my rest, I was up again and wasn't down, down until Friday afternoon. I planned to come home and rest after class, but got stuck on campus doing this and that. The symptoms were creeping all over my body. Because it was so late, I decided instead of going home I'd go to the hospital to visit my grandmother.

While I was sitting with Granny, everything came full force: fever, cough, headache, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, trouble breathing. I left the room thinking I'd go home and sleep it off. But as I made it to my car, it became clear that I'd probably collapse before making it home.

During the intake procedure the nurses' discovered my temperature was 104. They rushed me in. The doctor suspected meningitis and stuck a big needle in my spine to test my spinal fluid. My parents came to see me. They had to wear masks. I wore a mask. My girlfriend came in. She was masked. We all looked like Cobra soldiers.

After some time the doctor told us we could take off our masks, "It's only malaria," she said.

The doctor prescribed me five pills, which I took. I suppose it's fighting the malaria in my blood. I still have a fever and a headache and a neck ache. I'll follow up with the doctor soon. Even with all this sickness, I don't regret the Ghana trip. It was pretty amazing. I'd do it again with a big bottle of Off (and a different type of medication, because the mosquitoes were just laughing at the one I took).

After taking all the medication and attempting to relax away the symptoms, here's something I found alarming: Sunday night, I felt an itch below my rib cage. I went to scratch it and found a bump. An American cousin of the Ghanaian mosquito who gave me malaria had left me a little message.

2 comments:

Abdel Shakur said...

Sorry to hear you ain't feeling good. Hope you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Stay up! fight prayer is real