Friday, November 2, 2012


I am really terrible at killing mosquitoes.  You'd think that I'd be better, considering I've been clapping at them for a solid month now, but I'm not.  I'm still miserable at getting them.  Now and again I'll get one, but I've heard that there is an illusion of improvement right after the area's been sprayed.  Just my luck.

Regardless, thankfully, I don't have malaria.  I'm taking pills and bathing in bug juice and there is fogging around the camp three times a week, but the people-who-know suggest you get a malaria test every two weeks.  I went a full month of being in Tanzania before they caught me (I don't much like doctors or clinics), but I have had my first malaria test and it is negative.

It is worth noting that once you detour through the security compound and travel along a barbed wire fence through the secret passage to the clinic, it is actually a good time.   No one comes to the clinic for a headache - there's a serious issue by the time you get to the clinic.  There was someone in physical therapy outside the front doors, re-learning how to walk.  A fair number of foot and toe injuries.  I also saw a guy with big black open blistery wounds on his swollen legs - yikes!  Now, I just require a finger prick and I made an appointment, so... apparently none of what is going on in the waiting room is an emergency and I am passed right on back.

The doctor is very happy that I have come in for my malaria test and the lab technician, an old man named Wilfred dressed in burgundy scrubs, is also quite happy to see me.  I'm not sure if this is because I am a pleasant person or I'm the least of their worries today (black wounds, man, that is a problem!) or because my attempts at Swahili are so funny.  Wilfred calls me "mami" the whole time, which means I love him.  Also, the finger prick is the lightest thing I've ever felt.  I actually asked Wilfred if he missed me, which only made him like me more.  Wilfred, in fact, is the person most amused by me since I got here.  As I was wondering if I was only being humored back in the States, I am pleased to find that I can truly be entertaining.  After the finger prick, I asked if I could sit and watch my malaria test "change color."  I thought that meant it was like a litmus test, but it's more like a pregnancy test (at least the way pregnancy tests work on commercials.  I don't have first hand knowledge of this.)  Wilfred talked me through the specifics of the superficial malaria test - which lines mean what, what happens if it's invalid, the whole nine.

Then there was the second round of testing, which involved a microscope and which I was not involved in.  All the same, no malaria.

Malaria, by the way, is apparently unmistakable.  The symptoms are discussed as "flu-like," but anyone who has had malaria said it is definitely not like anything normal... you feel like you are DYING.  Vitaliy believes he has malaria twice a week on average.  He's tried to diagnose me with malaria at least half a dozen times since we arrived.  Neither of us have malaria.  No one in camp has malaria.  We will not get malaria.

But we will get tested for it every two weeks.  I'll be going just to visit Wilfred.

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