Archive for the 'sicknesses' Category

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.

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