17 November 2007

day 17 :: over a few days

So when I said that not having malaria was the only good news, I was frighteningly accurate. Well, there’s a little bit more good news, which is that I maybe didn’t have typhoid but the test just found my body’s reaction to the live vaccine I took before I left for Sudan. So that’s good news, because it means that I didn’t eat poo, probably. Although I still might have to be treated, depending on symptoms and/or a follow-up test in a month.

The other bad news is that I also have bilharzias.

My blood is like a swimming pool for tropical diseases. Over here they are doing the backstroke, and on the other side some of them are practicing the front crawl. I prefer the ones right up close here, learning that butterfly one.

The waiter at (yes, again) Java House just brought me a pineapple juice instead of a passion fruit juice and then, when I asked about it, said, “Maybe you can just drink this.” I didn’t QUITE say, “I didn’t come all the way over to Java House just to miss out on my passion fruit juice,” but I kind of felt that way. I have no idea when I will get to drink the stuff again.


Schistosomiasis/bilharzias, for the non-Africa travelers, are little parasites that divide their lives between the inside of a snail and the inside of a person. You can’t pass them on unless the snails are around, but the snails inhabit fresh water throughout much of Africa and Asia and maybe Latin America (I can’t remember). They emerge from the snails as little worm-like things and dig into humans through the skin, whereupon they cause all sorts of problems like liver damage and, in serious cases, lung or brain damage. There are two kinds: intestinal (predominate in Africa) and urinary (predominate in Asia). The primary system is often tiredness.

I can only imagine how much less painful law school might have been if I hadn’t had a disease that causes tiredness. The levels in my blood indicate that I’ve had it for quite some time. Years, probably. Maybe many years. Let’s see, the possibilities are endless. Liberia, any time between twenty-eight and one year ago? Nicaragua, eight years ago? Honduras, seven years ago? Rwanda, any time between five and two years ago? Uganda, five years ago? I’ve never been one to stay out of an available stream or lake. I love swimming and splashing.

I’m still not staying out of available streams and lakes. But I will get tested for this regularly. And I’m about to start taking twelve pills, four per day, for three days, at a cost of $30 per day. (Funny, that sounds like a lot more when it is 2010/- (Kenya shillings)).

In other news, I’m back in the US. Stories abound about the traveling, including the conspiracy theorist I sat next to, who told me about how everything from J.F.K.’s assassination to the landing on the moon were orchestrated by a secret cabal. Then he asked me if I was going to research all of this when I got home. I said probably not. “Why not?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I’m more concerned about women dying in childbirth in Sudan. Knowing whether the moon landing was real or fake is probably not at all going to change the way I live my life.”

And that’s how I’ve pretty much always felt about it. It may be a generational thing, but I just can’t really bring myself to care that much if we came to be through creation or evolution, or if many of the things I’m told about the government are true. I really don’t see that I’m going to change what I want to do with my life, who I want to be, how I want to interact with the world, if I know that, I don’t know, TWA Flight 800 was downed deliberately. I mean, what can I do? I can’t not fly. I can’t pick my flights to avoid the planes that someone wants to shoot down. It won’t change anything.

I don’t think any of it is as simple as we want it to be. I don’t even think D.arf.ur is as simple as we are told by the US media on one hand and A.l-Jaz.ee.ra (the only news channel our TV got in Nairobi) on the other. This is why (I know, I know, this is an unpopular point of view), I’ve been reluctant to jump on a “Save D.ar.fu.r” bandwagon. And I’m sort of okay with the complexity. How post-modern of me.

1 comment:

Monday's Child said...

I loved this post... sorry I keep saying that, I must sound like a broken record he he he... but I did!!! (again)

the last thing you said, particularly struck home... It took me ages to accept it, but I too am ok with complexity :-) even more that that... I have learned to welcome complexity and to question what appears too simple... Africa does that. I hate it when people say "Africa makes you appreciate the simple things in life"... for me it's the opposite.. Africa reminds me that what I may have thought were simple things... aren't. Does that make sense? he he he maybe not... I'm exhausted from travelling round the Ecuadorian countryside visiting small farmers!

good luck with whatever you do next!