I sat on a bench at the hospital and after 10 minutes a Doctor saw me. I felt terrible. A nurse took a blood sample from a finger prick and in minutes they told me my problem. I had malaria, severe malaria at that. They took me to another Dr. He told me that I had 30% malarial parasites in my body. Most foreigners are very sick with just 10%. He said I was showing some resistance and said I was ‘like an African’. That made me feel good, at least I had some natural resistance. He said the strains of malaria here are resistant to the antimalarials I was prescribed back home but no pills keep anyone safe from malaria.Pills are recommended for malaria but for my severe malaria I would need 24 hours of Quinine through an IV. I would have to stay the night in the hospital. They called my hotel and told them wouldn’t be returning that night. The Dr put me in a private room with 2 beds but the other was unoccupied. Amelda, my nurse found a vain in my right hand and put the IV in at 5pm. I felt relieved that I was finally getting treatment but it would still be a while before recovery. I foolishly should have went to the hospital at the first sign of a fever.
Quinine is a very old treatment for malaria and comes from the bark of a tree native to South America. The Dr said its only used for the treatment of severe malaria. The malaria was giving me nausea and so was the quinine. I managed to eat a little rice and beans while I watched a bit of TV outside my room. The treatment would be 4 hours IV, then 4 hours rest. 3 regiments of this. The IV came out at 9 and I tried to sleep. I was still having hot/cold sweat and soaked the sheets again. They woke me up at 1am for my second round. My head still pounded and my chest constricted by the parasites resulting in a weak cough. My body ached, I just looked forward to when it would all be over. I woke up in the middle of the night to vomit. I went back to bed and vomited again in the late morning. It was terrible. There wasn’t much food in me because I wasn’t hungry, so just resulting in dry heaves near the end. They put the last IV in at 9am but because I was not responding well and vomiting, they lowered the rate of the IV.
Food was a joke. They would ask me what I wanted but they didn’t have what I wanted. They only had local food. Someone was going out to get me food and I begged the nurse ( not Amelda, she was good) for them to get me some instant noodles. I needed soup, something not requiring chewing and not greasy. I ended up with my second choice, chips and chicken. I ate the most of it and it was ok but hours later vomitted again. I took an antinausea pill but it wasn’t helping. It was a sick catch 22. I needed food in my stomach to take the pill not to make me nauseous but was too sick to eat. The IV finally finished at 5pm, 9 hours later. The Dr suggested I stay another night so they could observe me. I told them I needed a bath, to be clean. I had sweated so much. They arranged for a driver to take me back to my hotel and get a shower and pick up what food I wanted along the way. This was good. I got my clothes on and we left. I stopped at another nice hotel on the way to check it out because I needed a nice place to recover after the hospital. I showered at my place and got all my stuff and checked out. I was also happy to have my stuff because when I was feeling ok at the hospital I was so bored, there was nothing to do.
All the movenment and excitement of the trip was too much for me and after I got back I vomitted again. I lied in bed for a while. Later when I felt up to it, I got some hot water from the nurse and cooked my instant noodles. My throat was raw and on fire from all the stomach acids coming back up. It felt like I was slowing broken glass but I managed to get all the noodles down. I went to bed that night and slept a bit better without an IV in my arm. I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense discomfort in my stomach. It felt like I was pushing my stomach out. It stuck with on and off the whole night. The morning wasn’t any better but I still ate my other packet of noodles. I took my first dose of after quinine meds. Even though the quinine was finished the malaria was still there and needed more treatment. I have 3 days of this one drug to take and then some anti-nausea and ibuprofen/panadol to go with it. The Dr thought I was doing better and said he would check on me later but at this point, I just wanted to go. I hadn’t been sick for 16 hours and I wanted to recover in a hotel room, not the hospital. He thought that was fine and discharged me.
I paid my bill, which was incredibly cheap. For all the Dr consultations, drugs, 2 overnights in a private room and my food cost me $35. They make it cheap because malaria is the most common affliction here and if it was expensive to treat, more people would be dying of it. The only good thing to come of all this was that if I get malaria again, it will be less severe. Now I really do have some resistance. The hospital was nice enough to give me a ride in the ambulance to a hotel.