01 October 2007


In the morning, I heard that there was a car going to the (real) clinic with a somewhat coworker-ish person (another US American). I hopped right in. Finally, an opportunity to deal with the intestinal problem, I thought.

At the front desk, the woman took our complaints and said, “Okay, we will test your blood for malaria, just to be sure, and your stool for parasites.”

Piece of advice: NEVER LAUGH WHEN SOMEONE SUGGESTS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MALARIA. I think that’s a good general rule for avoidance of fake-irony that isn’t really ironic.

They pricked our fingers. They made the slides for the malaria smear.

We sat around wondering if we were going to be able to produce stool samples. I walked a considerable way to buy some toilet paper and soap, because a pit latrine with intestinal issues and no toilet paper sounded like a terrible idea. Somewhat coworker-ish person slept, sitting up in a chair – she was far more urgently sick than me.

We made a latrine trip, which resulted in a stool sample for her, but none for me. It just wasn’t happening. Plus the latrine smelled terrible, so bad that the smell stayed in my nose for an hour afterwards. It wasn’t conducive to smooth collection.

We returned to the lab, where the technician told us, “You both have malaria.”

What? We looked at the papers. We read the poster on the wall describing the counts per 100 white blood cells. We looked back at the papers. There they still were: positive results, albeit quite low positive results (that Larium dream last night was worth something, after all).

So they prescribed Coartem for both of us for malaria, and Cipro for both of us for diarrhea, even though her stool sample was negative and mine was nonexistent.

It only took three pharmacies to find the Coartem, which is some mixture of an artemisinin substance (the latest malaria wonder drug), and erm, something else. A “synthetic racemic flourene mixture.” My other coworker on the drive-around kept saying, “There’s a pharmacy!” and I kept saying, “That’s a SMALL pharmacy,” and he said, “But it might have it!” and I said, “I’ve just tried two well-stocked small pharmacies. This little one won’t have it.”

I’m not that sick to start with (no malaria symptoms that I can distinguish unless my sore throat is one, and only 8 p. falciparum per 100 white blood cells – some people have thousands), but apparently this medicine is about to knock me over and stomp on my head while I’m down. It’s better if you take it with high-fat foods, and if you drink a lot. NO PROBLEM. I’m drinking copious amounts of tea with full-fat milk powder.

And the Cipro is apparently what I should have tried TWELVE MONTHS AGO for the stomach problems. That parasite stuff, and then this. Between the two, they fix most intestinal problems. I could cry at the thought of having a normal stomach again. (Maybe. Low expectations.)

A maybe normal stomach in, oh, five days. After I finish both the Coartem and the Cipro with all their assorted side effects. For now, I’m going to bed. With lots of water.

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