Saturday, 12 April 2014

It Can't Be The Water, Maybe The Air's Bad?

The last time I was in hospital with malaria in Angola

We were all recently invited by the Nice Americans to a barbecue on Mussulo Island this weekend. Mussulo isn’t really an island although it might as well be.  It is a long bar, a sandbank only attached to the mainland some 50 kms south of the capital, Luanda.  The only realistic way to get there is by boat across Mussulo Bay.  When I first visited some twenty years ago, there were only a few old Portuguese built weekend chalets (some of which were rented and done up by oil companies), a few stick and palm frond fishermen’s huts, loads of palm trees and golden sand.  If you had a boat, it was a great place to camp out for a weekend and barbecue on the safe, bay side and the sheltered waters were usually glass smooth and ideal for my favourite pastime, water skiing.  With fingers missing from my left hand, I was never much good at slalom skiing.  I could really cut myself a slice on the left hand side of the boat but everything, including me, let go when I tried to haul myself through a turn on the right hand side.  What I was good at though, was speed skiing and, for a time, held a couple of unofficial records here for top speed and the shortest time taken to ski between Mussulo and the mainland.  A couple of years after I arrived, a restaurant and lodge had been built.  It was paradise.  Lounging there in a deckchair, an ice cold Cuba Libre to hand, Luanda across the bay looked almost civilized.
Along with the invitation also came a request for lobster.  No problems with the lobster but there were a couple of impediments to us attending the barbecue.  The first was that Marcia is frightened witless by water.  When I first met Marcia I lived in a shack on the Ilha de Luanda, also a long bar enclosing Luanda Bay but this one had a dual carriageway straight down the centre and was filled with bars and restaurants.  I only had to walk a hundred yards in either direction and I was in the bay (not really a good place to swim) or the sea.  On Sundays, I would lunch in one of the restaurants and then lie on a deckchair doing my best to free Cuba by drinking one rum and coke after another, cooling off between drinks with a dip in the sea.  Now that I was with Marcia, who looked damn fine in a bikini, I would take her along.  She would eat the meal, she would lounge on the beach.  There was no way I could entice her into the water.  Same with boats.  If I organize a river fishing trip or even just a family run up the river sightseeing, she’ll pack sandwiches and stuff the cool box with drinks for us but no way will she come along.  The second impediment was her condition.  Poor Marcia is having a rough time of this first trimester. 
In addition to nausea, she overheats regularly and must lie down for a rest in cool shade.  A day in hot sun would do her no good at all and the sight of someone clearly not enjoying themselves would be unfair to others.  Marcia said I should take Alex and go, the Nice Americans had suggested precisely that on hearing of Marcia’s reservations and for a while, I was up for it.  Alex would have had a whale of a time.  Sadly, last Sunday I came over all poorly.  Monday I felt better and then had a practice run at dying on Tuesday; you could have fried eggs on my forehead.  From there, I became steadily worse so one of the Nice Americans, Rae Ann, drove down yesterday to collect the lobster.  Knowing she was coming, I dragged myself out of bed and into some clean clothes and actually felt a little better, still rough as a badger but at least I was on my feet.  Rae Ann came and went, very kindly leaving us three batches of her exceedingly good scones mix.  There was no way I could make it to the barbecue so I asked Rae Ann to pass my best wishes on to Nancy and Don, the other two Nice Americans, whose birthdays would be celebrated at the barbecue.

I had not been up to watering the plants for a couple of days and I knew they were dying of thirst so I tottered into the garden and spent a couple of very uncomfortable hours watering all the beds, pleased to see that some plants, notably my carrots, watermelon (my watermelons have been entered into an international competition spanning both hemispheres, but more on that when I am feeling better), tomatoes, kohlrabi, aubergine, sage, Italian grape tomato, mango, avocado, fig and banana trees,  nasturtium and zinnia were doing rather well all things considered, before collapsing exhausted and feverish onto the sofa.  I emptied a one-and-a-half litre bottle of mineral water and three cans of Sumol, a fizzy orange drink and crawled off to bed.  This was day three without food and the quinine sulphate was making my head shriek and churning my stomach.  I had dragged my mattress and pillows out into the sun to dry off and replaced my sodden sheets but they were still damp.  A couple of hours later when Marcia came home, they were sodden again.  My teeth were chattering uncontrollably, I was freezing cold yet I was sweating like a Grand National runner.  Some bastard had upped my temperature control from ‘medium rare’ to ‘decidedly well done’.  Marcia tried me with some vegetable rice stir fry, something I usually love.  I took one forkful, swallowed with difficulty and was immediately ill.  Marcia suggested I went to hospital.  I suggested she laced my water bottle with a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of sugar and the juice of a couple of lemons.

It was a bloody awful night.  It was stupid of me, just as I was starting to feel better, to lug countless 25 litre buckets of water under a boiling sun to the plants out of reach of my ridiculously short hose.  Just to ram the point home and to remind me He has a sense of humour, at four this morning, God made it rain.


75 comments:

  1. Where was Frank? cant that be his job? so is it malaria or some flash back to your snack bite

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    1. Watering is not one of Frank's fortes, he beats the seedlings down when he pours water on top of them. This is malaria not me flashing back to when the snake snacked on my toe. I presume you are referring to the snake bite and not my customary hot pepper sandwich which sometimes has the same effect?

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  2. oh god, malaria! i have a friend who has this too. nasty stuff! feel better soon!!!

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    1. Not sure how long it will take me to recover now that I have given up my favourite medicine!

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    2. maybe DomTom would help?

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  3. How your body survives it's many traumas
    I'd be f"&ked if I'd know

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    1. Don't be fucked on Tom's account, dear John. I think he is dead. Playing us from the other side of his grave.

      We'll see who is going to shed a tear. Not me. As I write I am composing "So aggrieved am I ..." Set to a tune of your choice.

      U

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    2. And you an experienced nurse, John. What chance does an ordinary doctor have?

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    3. Actually, John, here is another disaster story even Tom would be hard pushed to better. Just came across news item of a guy in Florida who stopped on some highway (and got out of the car) to have a better look at a sizeable alligator. Yes, really, John, people will do stupid things. The alligator not interested in the morsel representing itself in the shape of human form. Instead of which the young man, wearing flip flops, got bitten by a snake. A venomous one. Why the hell am I laughing at this disaster? Why did I think of our very own Hippo on the Lawn?

      I wouldn't call what befell him 'divine justice' since dear dog in heaven has no mercy whatsoever. Reminds me of my mother''s frequent and dry remark: "Gottchen straft auf Stelle", loosely translated as "God fines you on the spot". I dare say Indians (Asian) call it Karma. Don't believe everything you are being told.

      Anyway there is a happy ending. The guy was helicoptered - and four days later is still alive. How much longer given his record remains to be seen.

      Better run lest Tom is getting pissed off with me spilling the word count.

      U

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    4. Good job tom hasn't had a close encounter with a croc....
      Marcia would be wearing it within an hour

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    5. Not even I could manage that, John, the tanning process takes ages. Eating it within the hour is certainly possible!

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    6. Tom. Didn't you have a croc encounter on lake Albert?

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  4. The last line of this post was the clincher!

    I do hope you're feeling better soon, Tom.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Just psyching myself up for watering again.

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  5. Hang in there. If the Some strains are now resistant to some of the antibiotics that used to work. Some are worse than others. If the quinine sulfate doesn't do the trick, try something else.

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    1. P-vivax is the hardest to get rid of. P-falciparum is the one that kills but is easier to get rid of using one of the Artesunate compounds or good old quinine. Almost all malarial strains here are resistant.

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    2. I remember watching them spraying the bamboo homes in the jungle (Ecuador in the 70's) with DDT to kill the mosquitoes. They would eat some to show the people that DDT wasn't harmful. I took Chloroquine every week for a while then stopped. There were very few people where I was and likewise very few mosquitoes. Luckily I never got it. Can't say the same for amoebic dysentery though.

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  6. blah! just when things are rough they get rougher!

    thinking of you all

    xox

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    1. We are used to it. Flu is worse.

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  7. Yuk; I've known several people (all who lived in Africa) who've had to endure this wretched Malaria business. Hope it calms soon.

    Good to see your pale I's are still with us; I'd miss them.

    Just in case anyone doesn't know, 'Malaria' is called such because it was originally though that is was caught through breathing Bad Air. Now we know otherwise.

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    1. Woops, just re-read your title.

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    2. Never mind, at least we all know your helpful explanation came from your own general knowledge and not Google.

      I wish I had some pale ales here.

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  8. Malaria can go from bad to worse very fast. Take care.

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    1. You are talking to an expert at going from bad to worse!

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  9. This is the second time this morning I have read the word kohlrabi:

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/apr/12/brian-sewell-lunch-portraits-tracey-emin-grayson-perry

    I didn't know what it is, so I have rectified my ignorance in these matters. I wonder whether I should add it to my juice recipe too? This morning's was kale, beetroot, lemon, lime, carrot, guava, celery and ginger.

    Now if that didn't kill you, it might improve your liver function, and the immunity to kill off the parasite. As ironic as it sounds, at least your state of immunity has improved vastly since giving up the drink, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

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    1. The acerbic Mr Sewell did not make clear whether it was the kohlrabi in particular that tasted foul. Personally I think it makes a wonderful salad finely grated with a vinaigrette sauce or mixed, again finely grated, with sour cream and lemon juice. Being white, it should be in keeping with your décor. My state of immunity may have improved but not my mood!

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  10. I hope that you are soon on the mend…..Marcia needs you!!

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    1. Not right now she doesn't. This is Man Malaria, the most dangerous and resistant strain known to science. It is affecting everyone around me.

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    2. You are ŵorrying me. Please get better soon. Xx

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    3. Men suffer a similar affliction in the civilised world:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk5wScFGCjk

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    4. I am pleased to see that you are well enough to do a bit of typing on your blog today... Hope you are feeling a bit better.

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  11. Nancy and I had a lobster boiling party on Friday night and we all enjoyed the lobster at our Mussulo Birthday BBQ! Everyone LOVED it with Marcia's garlic aioli recipe :-) Wish you could have joined us! GET WELL SOON!!!! Rae Anne (one of the "Nice Americans")

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    1. That pleases me enormously! There will be other opportunities and I still want to prepare a full vegetarian meal for you and Don. Wait til you try my Butternut Soup! For the main course I shall be doing what you would swear are meatballs (they look like meat, cut like meat and remind the diner of chicken) but they are vegetarian.

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  12. You have the constitution of an ox. Your ailments scare me ...

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    1. I couldn't knock the skin off a rice pudding at the moment!

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  13. Quinine? Does that mean drinking gin and tonics...

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    1. For me, without the gin I am afraid. In any case, with only about 24mgs in a can of tonic water, so 12mgs per G&T I would need to drink 150 G&T's per day to get a curing rather than just prophylactic dose of quinine. !50 G&T's would require, for me, 75 cans of tonic, ten bottles of gin, a bottle of Angostura Bitters and 30 lemons. Doesn't leave much room for lunch.

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  14. Dam it Tom you need to take better care of your self, I've had to many of friends and acquaintances assuming room temperature lately.

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  15. Here's hoping you're on the mend. My ex suffered from malaria horribly (Green Beret in Viet Nam).
    PS - I'm assuming the vapor smokes did not help/last?

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  16. So sorry to hear you have a ridiculously short hose but I hope you are better soon. It's awful to be weak and washed out - lacking the energy you need just to get up and do something. Try pulling on your short hose to stretch it.

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  17. Bugger. YP just beat me to a short hose joke. I recently had an e-mail regarding the benefits of consuming asparagus every day. It apparently has the benefits of curing all ills, including cancer, and restoring your equilibrium. Maybe it is something else you could grow. How about wild garlic? If it could survive, the aroma is just gorgeous.

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    1. Retired Job (not the most conducive name to pulling birds), there is a reason why men swear that they are "allergic" to asparagus, and therefore won't eat it. Oh did I (and his partner) laugh when longest standing friend watched me eating whilst declining even one length of that most gorgeous (on that occasion white).

      U

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  18. I hope you are all right. I got arrested at Bethel Street once so I know what the cells look like. Pretty spooky down there but all part of life's rich tapestry.

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  19. It's been ten days now, Tom. Are you at least privately emailing John for alternative cures?

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    1. Yes, I'm feeling some concern, too. My father had malaria and it's no fun. He also had to deal with a pregnant wife, twice. Hopefully Tom is preoccupied with the second option.

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  20. Nothing wprse than being ill. Keep taking the salts and drinking sugary drinks. Veg sound good. What about some globe artichokes to grow?

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  21. I am worried too….hope you are going to be OK. xx

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  22. PS I am only being selfish as I enjoy your blog so much and am missing it!

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  23. Hope you're getting better.

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  24. Tom, how are things?
    Will email you....am a little worried as we have not heard anything for a bit

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    1. John, I can't wait for the day you take custody of hippo on your lawn. Winnie being jealous not withstanding, it should save energy on your mowing. No grass - a swamp.

      Fact is, and it gives me pleasure to observe: Tom likes dangling from a cliff and his readership off the hanger.

      U

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    2. John, if you find anything out please let worried readers know…just a quick note on your own blog would do!!

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    3. I am sure that tom wouldn't mind me telling you all , that I had a reply from Marcia to my email.
      Tom has been poorly and in hospital, but she said he is improving
      He's a tough old bird
      If I hear more I will let you all know
      But I am sure he will be posting some disgusting photograph of his ailments to us all very soon
      Johnx

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    4. John: Thanks for sharing the news. I am sure more then a few noticed his absence and were starting to worry. I mean how could you not? Glad he is under professional care and hope he gets better soon. We develop theses cyber-relationships with folks from afar and can do little for them if things go pear shaped.

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    5. Thanks John for the info. Tom, glad you are improving. Hope you will be posting again soon.

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  25. Thanks John... I was starting to worry. Tom, hope you feel better soon.

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  26. Tom
    http://disasterfilm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/virtual-flowers-for-tom.html?m=0

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  27. Get well soon Tom, best wishes!

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  28. Hospital? Mr Hippo must have been either unconscious or at death's door otherwise Marcia would never have got him through the front doors of the hospital. Thanks for letting us know, John. I was getting worried about him. So pleased to hear he is getting better.

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  29. Hang in there, Tom. We're all rooting for you. And thanks, John, for the update.

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  30. Hello from the Bruce Peninsula, dropping over from John Grey's blog. Hope you are on the mend ! Since the Movie Jaws, I do not do water to well either.

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  31. We are all sending you our very best wishes for your recovery Tom. Love to Marcia and the boys xx

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  32. Thanks to John your readers know you are alive, if not well.
    I'm sending more good wishes from Massachusetts.
    We're looking forward to your tales from the bowels of an Angolan hospital.
    I hope you're up and around soon.

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  33. I heard through John that you're ill in hospital and popped over to say here's hoping you're well soon! Greetings Jo (Tanzania)

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  34. It's obvious we all care for you very much so you better take that into consideration and get better. Thanks John again for the heads up, I sure do miss this raconteur and teller of living on the edge horribilis tales. Marilyn

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  35. hi tom! i was worried when you never replied to my email and then saw you were ill. and then no posting! i was just about to send another email when john told us marcia had written to him. good lord man, you must really be sick! get your arse out of bed soon and back on hippo! we are all missing you a lot! joyce

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  37. I am sure that Tom must have been 100% out or he would not have allowed himself to be dragged to hospital, yet something tells me his take on all the fuss would be much more like......
    http://youtu.be/Sh8mNjeuyV4

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  38. I heard on John's blog that you're not well and send you best wishes from Dartmoor. I often pop over but have never clicked the follower button before today. I do hope you get better soon.

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  39. Tom, get better soon. Missing your blog too much!

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  40. Get Well Soon! I hope all our little messages get to you and make you feel better. I wont even ask for a picture of your toe...

    Yoghurt knitter xxx

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  41. POstScript
    I have been in touch with Tom
    He's as Gung-ho as ever
    He may not be able to post for a while.
    But with his permission, I will let you know how things are going only if he can't
    Johnx

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  42. Dear Tom: From another of the Going Gently gang... we hear you are on the mend! Hope you feel better each day.
    Ruth in Oxnard CA USA

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