Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mal. Aaaaaaaria.

About 2 weeks ago, I fell down while walking to church. For those who know me well this won't really come as a surprise. In high school I was "voted" most clumsy which if I remember right really just involved my friend who was the editor of the yearbook sitting around telling the rest of the staff all the times I'd humiliated myself in the last 4 years. (Amy...correct me if I'm wrong.) :) Anyway, I fell down. I scraped my knee. No big deal. Well, about 2 weeks later part of it still wasn't healing so although I was hoping my superb immune system would mount a last ditch response, I finally broke down and started taking antibiotics.
This led me to think about the medicines I've had to take while here. I had a whole blog written in my head about how the medicine I've had to here hasn't been for the crazy things like malaria, dysentery, typhoid, etc. but for things like an infected scratched cornea, a perforated eardrum (twice) and now for a silly little fall.
So I had the blog written in my head and was getting ready to post it when I go it. IT. Mal. Aaaaaaaria!!! (Earlier this year I went to a lecture on malaria by a malariaologist?? and that's how he said it. In the scary ghost stories by the campfire voice.)
I stopped taking my malaria medicne a couple months after arriving in the country. Before you go postal on me (Aunt Berta), let me explain. I really really really like my liver and kidneys. And I couldn't find any studies that showed the long term effects of taking an antimalarial. Since I could potentially be here for lots of years, I was leery about taking them for so long. I've heard some horror stories about patients on dialysis who SWEAR it was because of the malaria med they took. Anyway, upon the advice of some friends, I went and picked up a bunch of malaria test kits and anytime I feel weird...even if it's just a headache, I do a quick test. My plan was to most likely get malaria eventually but catch it early so it doesn't kill me.
On Saturday I wasn't feeling too bright. But I could account for all of my symptoms.
1. Every muscle in my body aching.- On Friday evening I returned from a road trip which had me on the worst roads I've ever been on here....for 7 hours. Of course I'm achy.
2. Headache.-The last three times I've gone on a road trip I've gotten a really bad headache. I think it's because I don't drink a lot (not a lot of rest stops in Sierra Leone) so I get dehydrated.
3. Lightheaded/nauseated.- I hadn't slept well the last two nights so I knew I was tired. And my symptoms weren't that bad so it could totally be attributed to fatigue.
4. Fever. I checked my temp and it was 101.2. This would normally be a dead giveaway since I don't remember having a fever....ever. BUT I have this dang infection in my knee so....
Anyway, I did my little test and sure enough, positive. But BARELY!! I think I did catch it pretty early.
I took some Tylenol and started my malaria treatment. About 40 minutes later I started sweating profusely when my fever broke. But I felt a TON better! The fever was gone, the aches were gone. In fact, I went back down to the hospital because they were swamped and I told my friend I'd come help if I could. However, after a couple of hours I started to feel not so awesome again so I went home.
Tylenol is my new best friend. It was incredible to see the difference that it made. By that evening, I could tell exactly when my four hours were up because at about 3 hours 45 min. my fever would start going up, the achyness would come back and I'd want to throw up again. But after I popped a pill, I'd start feeling better soon! As I went to sleep, I thought "Hey, this malaria isn't too bad...."

That night was a rough one. Even though I've been giving Tylenol to my patients for years, all of the sudden I couldn't remember if the max dose for 24 hours was 2 grams or 4. I knew my spleen was already taking a hit from this malaria so I didn't want to mess up my liver too so I didn't take my Tylenol when I probaby should have. I didn't really sleep that night.

I also discovered that I'm not a very good patient. At one point I was shivering so bad and figured I had a temperature but instead of doing what I always tell my kiddo's moms to do (tepid sponging, take the winter hat off, etc.) I went and got my sweatshirt, blanket and socks on. I was sooo cold! Temp: 103.3. Oops. I didn't care. Definitely time for some Tylenol....liver damage...who cares? An hour later I was drenched. Tylenol, you're awesome.

In the morning, I was tired but feeling better. I was able to stop my Every 4 hour Tylenol schedule. I did "call in sick" for the first time in my life, but I don't think people would have known I was sick if they hadn't announced it in church. :) I had lots of visitors come to say "Osh ya?" (It means.....I'm sorry for you! I've said that to hundreds of first time having it said to me!) :)

Anyway, it's now almost 4am and I've been up for a couple hours. I couldn't really sleep and my fever went back up again but not nearly as bad as last night. All in all I'm thanking God so much for his protection! I know malaria is nothing to take lightly but I'm thankful I didn't get too sick and now have some antibodies! So thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers! In terms of getting a disease that I've seen kill so many, I'm very very blessed!

1 comment:

  1. Mal. Aaaaaaaria!!?? Ah! I'm glad to hear that you are doing well still....but can't believe you got IT!