The word brings a fear factor to many. Indeed it is a deadly disease when it goes untreated. Sometimes a pupil comes back to school after a day off saying they had malaria- I have always been skeptical, even more so now.
I write this from a hospital ward where my wife has been admitted overnight and is on a drip. The ultimate cause – malaria!
It all started last Thursday when Anita woke up in the middle of the night with flu-like symptoms and feeling very chill. Remember we live on the equator where it does not ever really get cold. In the morning she went in to work and was sent home again. Then the fever started – we did a Malaria test using a kit, but it was negative. As the weekend wore on the fevers and chills became more intense until by Monday we went out and bought our own Malaria testing kit. A definite positive -so off to the local medical clinic (it is always wise to check yourself before going to the clinic as malaria is a common diagnosis – hence the pupils off for a day!).
Actually our local clinic is good and we trust the doctor – he confirmed malaria and prescribed medication. Anita, by now very feverish and weak was admitted for a few hours to give her fluids and medication.
Back home and medication in hand we were to return each day at 4pm for anti-malarial injections.
So today we returned, but instead of a routine injection we found her blood pressure had dropped to 50/30 – a lack of fluids and food bring a major contributing factor.
So here I sit on the ward. Anita on a drip – admitted for 24 hours.
Malaria is a nasty disease – much worse than anything I have seen before. With rest and medication she will recover, due to swift medical treatment. Many across this continent have no such option and will die of the disease – a sobering thought
This afternoon at the end of lesson I noticed something tiny on the ground just outside my classroom door. I almost mistook it for a piece of rubbish. Then a student pointed out it was a bat. I thought the creature was dead but it wasn’t. I carefully picked it up by a leg and put it on a ledge fearing it would be crushed in the lesson changeover.
I could see it’s chest beating but it lay motionless playing dead perhaps. It was on it’s back so I thought itmight be better on it’s front – you never know with bats?
After the lesson changeover and as I had no lesson myself, I decided that it might be better on some foliage so using paper transferred it to a nearby tree. It remained motionless but breathing throughout. When I looked two minutes later it was gone. Flown, dropped, alive, dead. I will never know but it was interesting to get up close to this unusual mammal if only for a few minutes.
Why would you go to a zoo in the middle of Africa? Seems a bit strange! Nevertheless that is exactly what we’ve done this morning.
The “zoo” is actually the Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and it’s main purpose is to educate Ugandans about the wildlife around them; animals that many of them would never otherwise see. Game parks such as Murchison Falls are rarely visited by ordinary Ugandans, so this place fills a much needed gap and by educating Ugandans it makes it easier to protect the wildlife in the longer term.
We have just Ben to Murchison Falls and have already been to the Serengeti, so why did we need to go? For us the attraction is the hence to see Chimpanzees, Shoebill Stork and, above all, White Rhino. Time and budget have not allowed us to see these creatures in the wild whilst here and so it is a good opportunity to see them.
Other than these creatures there are animals that you would also usually see in a game park. Each of these had either been recovered from people’s homes or from illegal traders, or have been born in captivity. The two white rhino are two of only seventeen in Uganda (all in captivity).
Posted in Africa, Holiday, Nature, Running, travel, Vacation, Wildlife
Tagged chimpanzee, Entebbe, shoebill, Uganda, white rhino
I must be mad and though I’m not a dog I’m definitely English, furthermore although it wasn’t the midday sun, here on the equator it was strong enough. So why did I go running?
Anita and Bex are back at the clinic for a follow up check, both have had UTI.
There is a general consensus in the staff room that whenever you’re ill you get diagnosed with one or both of two things: Malaria and UTI (urinary tract infection). Moreover this is the doctor’s get out clause when he / she can’t admit they don’t know. Hence there is a widespread distrust of the doctors here.
I think that our early experience with the doctors probably bears this out. Nonetheless our second visit to a different and more respected clinic whilst debunking Malaria (along with Amoebic Infection) concurred with the UTI diagnosis.
A more sceptical colleague was dismissive of this too, but I’d like to suggest here why UTI might be more common than we would suppose. The rationale here is not mine but those of a UK trained Kenyan doctor whom Anita recently met. It make sense to me from my (albeit non-Biological) Science background and can be summarised as follows:
- It’s hot here – so we sweat a lot.
- We don’t drink enough water.
- We don’t go for a wee (pee) often enough.
The result is the urine is more concentrated and sits in the bladder for longer. This gives any bugs longer to get established before being passed. Hence we are more prone to infection aka UTI.
We can’t deal with the first point – it’s not going to get much colder – ever! So perspiration is not going to stop!
We have to tackle the second by drinking more, which will affect the third.
The problem is that water here cannot be drunk from the tap (not without risking further diseases). It comes either in a bottle (1.5L for 1000TzS) or else must be boiled, cooled and filtered prior to drinking. It’s a a bit of a palaver, but must be done.
Four days on and showing little signs of improvement both Anita and Bex are back at the Doc. A different doctor at the recommendation of colleagues and hopefully one who knows his stuff a little better.
The problem here is that some doctors are less reliable. They tend to diagnose Malaria and UTI for everyone regardless of their conditions. There maybe some sort of kickback from the drugs companies. Either way Anita has ‘malaria’ and Bex has ‘UTI’, ‘malaria’ and amoeba infection. One or all may or may not be true, but as Anita is still washed out and Bex a raging headache and dizziness to replace the stomach cramps – it’s time for a second opinion. They certainly don’t want to be taking unnecessary drugs and missing out on the necessary ones.
- has not got Amoeba Infection
- should not have been prescribed one of her drugs – long term use would be dangerous.
- has got a UTI and Gastritis
- has not got Malaria
- has got a UTI
All in all the previous doctor got it almost completely wrong. Today’s doctor gave a significantly better experience – UK standard (yes the UK does have an NHS to be proud of!)
For local expats – Bio Health Clinic is the place to go and Dr Mubarak the doctor to see!
A submission to this week’s photo challenge – achievement
These pictures represent the achievement of running – for me 5k was the distance and whilst in the UK I did the Park Run Challenge for a time. Running here has been harder (heat, hills and hours of daylight!) but I’m gradually getting into it again.
Tonight was the running club at school. I am one of the staff involved and tonight I foolishly accepted the challenge of running with the 5K students. After all I have run lots of 5K runs over the past two years and was regularly running up to 10K by myself in the UK. Big mistake! Continue reading
Three days ago Anita tripped and fell. In so doing she bashed her arm. Her left arm! The arm she had previously broken! Continue reading
This morning I went for my first run in Africa; my first run in over three months. To be honest a pulled calf muscle back in June was a main reason for the lack of running back in the UK – but since I’ve been here I think I have been daunted by the challenge.
As I have mentioned here before the town of Mwanza is higher than any place in England and Wales – just above that of Mount Snowdon. It’s not immensely high but in the early days you could feel it when you walked. I think I have got used to it (at walking pace at least).
It’s not particularly flat here – running involves the inevitable uphill part and unlike my runs in the UK these are prolonged (several minutes of uphill). I will get used to it – but the thought of a prolonged uphill run at the start was a little off-putting. A work colleague (Head of PE) takes the students here up an even steeper ascent – although we both went running this morning, this particular element will need to wait for another occasion.
Furthermore the roads aren’t particularly flat here – there are a lot of ruts in the road. This make running more tiring as you dodge potholes and avoid rocks in the road.
Part of the Route
Not surprisingly it’s hot here. The sun is baking and this saps your strength. Even the walk to school can leave you feeling sweaty. So the idea of running in the heat left me a little ‘cold’ :-). The only way to contemplate running was to get up at the crack of dawn before the sun was really able to exert it’s furnace on the world. So it was up at 6:15am on a Saturday to meet up with a colleague and head out of the compound and uphill.
As usual I probably started out too fast but eventually got into a rhythm – the uphill bit wasn’t to bad – though at the end of it I was glad to turn onto a more level path. The only issue was that this meant leaving tarmac and heading over rough ground (the road). This road lead to the school around which we did a loop, before heading back along my familiar route to and from work.
All in all I felt OK given the length of time since my last run – but I know I can do a lot better.
I hope to run more often but it might only be possible at weekends.
The other barrier to running here is the daylight.
Sun rise here is about 6:30am all year. Sunset is about 6:30pm all year. This makes it tricky to fit tuns in during the working week as work is from 7:55am to 4:15pm (including meetings and clubs). Given the heat of the afternoon, at least to begin with I am not going to find it easy to run after work and will have no time to run before work. Maybe this will change.
Today was a start and hopefully I will continue – I’d love to join with the school running around Kilimanjaro next year – they do 5K, 10K and a half marathon. The views of Kilimanjaro can be spectacular apparently – so it’s definitely something to aim for.