here and here) you could read about our beautiful weekend getaway somewhere up the coasts of Guinea. At the end I wrote something like 'this was a great trip, except poor Darren got malaria'.
This is how it went down from there.
First you can read the worried wife's perspective and then the M-A-N's perspective:
After you are bitten by an evil female mosquito, which has the parasite, you don't have any symptoms other than the usual itchiness around the bite. That was the same with Darren, too. Funny thing is that he always says I am his 'mosquito prevention', because as long as I am around they will always bite me and not him! Sadly though it's true; wherever we go he never gets bitten, somehow they don't like the way his blood tastes... well, until now.
I guess he found the only one with special taste buds and a unique desire to test his blood.... :)
Malaria is latent for 10-ish days. During this period the parasites creep through your blood cells like a thief at night as they poison your blood, but you don't feel any different and sadly it's undetectable, even if you take the test.
But you sure as hell know when it goes full throttle!!! On a Wednesday evening he was doing sound check for our Thursday night community evening. He came to our cabin around 8 pm and he fell into bed with his clothes on. He looked exhausted and had a rough night. In the morning when I asked him he said he was doing much better, but he had a really bad head ache. - this was my first clue. (Ryan, my team member got malaria during the same weekend and his symptoms were showing a day before. He also mentioned a bad headache.) My second clue was the simple fact, that in the morning I FELT FINE! Normally if he gets the cold or flu I usually fall sick as well, but on that morning all was well with me.
Darren being a typical man declared that he was fine and I should drop the topic. You know me (strange, I thought after several months of being married to me he would know by now, too!) I cannot drop something like this. Bottom line, we got into a fight. He swore he didn't have malaria, I questioned his medical expertise. :)
I talked to malaria patients before and my dear husband was displaying all the typical signs. So, if for nothing else, than to give ME a peace of mind I forced him to go down and have a quick test. The nurse took a drop of his blood and placed it onto the test line. I've never seen it before, so I asked her to explain how it works.
"So, how does it work? What should I see?"
"It's similar to a pregnancy test and takes about 20 minutes. You see numbers 1 and 2 and a big C. C is for the control line to ensure the test works properly. If you see only that 1 line, all is fine. If you see 2 lines, it means he has malaria. if you see 3 lines it means he has malaria AND something else as well. We do NOT want that."
"Oh, cool. Thanks, for the explanation. So, ... umm, wait. I see 3 lines..." said the concerned wife.
"No, you're NOT!" - came the half angry response. She knew me and my habit of joking. She jerked the test out of my hands and took a quick look. I suppose she fully expected to prove me wrong and she was about to say it when she took a second look. A closer look. Then she looked up at me with narrow eyes full of concern: "This is baaaaaaad!"
Darren's only reaction was a proper British response for a situation like this: "Oh, sh**t."
The 3 nasty lines presented themselves after only 5 minutes, so as a first step he was admitted to the hospital. While he was settling in at the ICU (on the same bed that just a night before Ryan occupied) I ran around to cancel his appointments and let people know he will probably MIA for the next week or two.
When I got back to him with his personal stuff he was already over his first round of treatment. I had to go back to work. He, on the meantime felt really good. It looked like we were able to catch it VERY SOON (thanks to my very forceful nagging!!! - just saying) and Darren was hopeful that he can leave the hospital the same day. We almost managed to convince the nurses to let him go at the end of the day, but they knew better. We were told it usually gets worse during the evening and definitely at nights so they want to keep him there for observation.
I went back a few times during the evening and at night and boy was the nurse right!!! Darren had a very high fever and was freezing in the ICU room with a 33 Celsius room temperature! He had already a few blankets on him and he was only half-conscious. He tried to sleep and rest, but his whole body was shaking uncontrollably. Let me tell you, it was an AWFUL sight for his wife!!! The nurses came in brought more blankets and told me it's quite normal... :(
In the morning he looked much better. So much so that they let him go home and rest in his own cabin. As soon as we hit the cabin he fell onto the bed and was out again. I had to wake him up regularly to give him his pills. During the next day he could finally rest a bit. He was still not happy about eating; he did loose quite some weight. The first night in the cabin was quite bad for him, he had high fever again and was sweating in one minute and freezing in the second.
All in all it took him about 10 days to get over it and gain back his strength. We went up from deck 4 (our cabin) to deck 8 and he was exhausted by the time we got there...
Now he is back to work and all is well. He did learn his lesson though: for the remaining time he WILL TAKE his anti-malaria medication! Sadly he didn't learn the other lesson: Always listen to your wife! Had he not been taken down to the clinic for the test, he would have had a whole lot worse experience and more severe consequences. The type of malaria he had often attacks the brain and if it's left untreated for too long it can and will kill you!
We thank God and ALL OF YOU for praying, sending positive thoughts and encouraging messages our way. We greatly appreciated all your support and thank God for his quick and full recovery.
Malaria from Darren's perspective:
I was fine during Wednesday morning, just felt a bit achy in the afternoon, so I decided to get some sleep before sound practice, but that did not happen due to being on call. I sat through sound practice just wanting to be in bed. I fell asleep and think I had a good night's sleep. I woke up with a small small headache from not drinking enough water during the night. Wife unit moaned at me for taking the day off of work and complained enough for me to go down to the nurse. I took the test for Malaria and it was positive - oh well. Not happy I got admitted to the hospital for the night and tried to get some rest. I felt fine all the time I was down in the ICU and just wanted to go rest in my own cabin.
Every 2 hours I got woken by nurses who wanted to take my temperature and do a blood pressure test. Later at night I felt very cold and asked for more blankets to stay warm. I woke up in the morning and still felt fine, I was able to go back to my own cabin so I did and promptly feel back asleep. So Friday and Saturday I stayed in bed to rest to get over this Malaria but I did not feel like eating, but I did drink a lot. On Sunday we decided to go up to the pool on deck 8 for some sunshine and rest, the walk up the flights of steps to deck 8 completely wiped me out for a while. Later that afternoon I tried to eat dinner in the dinning room and one of our friends said "you only got Malaria as a good-bye present from Africa. Had you stayed, you would have gotten it."
A few more days of rest and I went back to work. All was ok...