Malarial attrition.

At what point do we decide that the danger of malaria (with attendant risk of life-long relapse and small chance of cerebral explosion) is a lesser risk than the weekly dose of Larium (with attendant risk of ugly liver damage and a small chance of a psychological meltdown)? I suspect at some stage we’ll consider this question a bit more seriously. For now I think we’ll cling to the dubious reassurance our anti-malarials offer, seeing as nowadays even the wild hounds of Waigani seem to be rolling in the mud, eyes rolling as they lather their way through another malaria-wracked fit.

There has been rain, and with the rains come puddles that settle in forgotten pockets of scrub and are left to stagnate and fester, and from these seamy pools they come – the whining, needle-nosed miniature Messerschmidtts that squadron by squadron disperse to feed on the blood of us mammals. The blitz is upon us. We have perfected strange new kinds of contorted flailings as a result of our attempts to strike down these nimble airborne adversaries. Our medications may preserve us from the ravages of fever, but they do nothing for the sore lumps that now flourish on our ankles and backs. We scratch like mad dogs.

I am simultaneously impressed and concerned with the local nonchalance when it comes to malaria. A colleague, having been smitten by the fever, was happy to admit his sole medical recourse was a day or two in bed and a diet of fresh fruit. I wanted to grasp him by the shoulders and shake him roughly. ‘You’re still troppo!’ I wanted to say. ‘You need a serious dose of drugs. Maybe an overdose. Inundate your system with quinine, and drink gin and tonic with breakfast. Also, bring the gin to our house. It will be safer there.’

Of course I said no such thing and the colleague lives on.

A neighbour and his family are also dealing with a malaria relapse, and one of our security guards was the image of the living dead the other day. He was nodding off while maintaining an upright position in his chair – when I returned the gate was wide open and he was prostrate on a foam mattress at the back of the guardhouse. When I spoke to his wantoks they were not exactly concerned with his plight – or they were simply relaxed in the knowledge that the help they could offer was negligible. Standard medical fees and treatment for malaria is well beyond the means of most security personnel, as is gin and tonic.

8 Responses to “Malarial attrition.”

  1. 1 Melody December 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    George, I love your blog, I have neglected it for a while and found a plethora of entries today which totally distracted me from the really important (read:boring) research I am supposed to be doing. So wonderful to get a view on your life there. Melody

  2. 2 Vicki December 20, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I love it too! You’re writing makes my day, George, and proves you’re cleverness with words. Wanna write me next editorial? Bugger Strunk and White, I say… I’m asking you!

  3. 3 banalasanything December 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    got the wang gourd thanks cranks! nick’s already jammed his tackle in, it’s now hanging charmingly from the loungeroom door knob. christmas with the combined keys and magee coteries was wonderful, lots of protein, booze and cricket. nor-teh ponting, eh? hope the malaria v. meltdown risk is wisely weighed. love and miss you both. let us know when the package arrives. x

  4. 4 fred December 30, 2008 at 10:46 am


    embarrassingly my first visit to your blog, people make mention of it and i mean to check. i read your letter though, both your letter and what i’ve read on the blog are as enjoyable as anything i read. it seems like you’ve got yourself into a good mood for fresh blab. the fruit trees at home a laden, i’ve been oddly house-bound, we look to have lost both the 1st and 2nd test to south africa. i will be making more regular visits, b good, fred.

  5. 5 Albion January 4, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I wanna join the throngs of George worshipers too. Luv ya georgie, you’re great. Tops even. I also reckon your missives from the wilds are a treat. Glad to get continuing evidence of your continued survival.

    love and ta-ta

  6. 6 CRANKY January 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Thanks everyone, there’s plenty more where that came from, the trip to Madang (and two nights in Goroka) has provided plenty of fuel. Stay in touch y’all.

  7. 7 Liam January 8, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hi George,

    Brig flicked me this link (that’s how one goes the verb on URLs I believe) and I shall be marking this bookishly for later reference so there’s a bit of added pressure for output mate!

    I’ve laughed inappropriately at work as I picture your GnT malarial inoculations.

    We are taking good care of Brig but i fear that her head is still stuck somewhat laconically in POM and the good people there; I still picture her lounging on her Waigani balcony, trading banter, dinners, things with ice cubs floating in them, and music with her neighbours. But back in the weary world, really she is living around the corner and now I get to see her most days, when she is taking visitors. sharing a bikey camping trip this weekend to Phillip island. Seeing the little trench-coated waddlers. Should be fun. All right enough. Hope the mosquitos are being polite and just nibbling the bits that you aren’t using … or at least asking permission in their quiet voices at sociable hours?


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