A Date With Malaria Part Two
Continuing on the second part of my story from a few weeks back now, I was hauled up in Banfora hospital on a plastic bed and a locked toilet overnight. At 7am the next morning, the doctor removed my drip, told me I was fine and they needed the bed and I was turfed out. Who should turn up but Jim, the ‘guide’ with his hand out and a sad voice telling me at every opportunity ‘problem – money’. He got me back to my guesthouse. I spent a couple of days there, he would pop in and ask if I wanted anything, mostly to go on another tour.
The thing was, I didn’t feel better. I was still in fever for a couple of days, and swallowing was becoming difficult for me. It felt like something was stuck down my throat. I completed the three day cure tablets as well, despite reading they contained mefloquine, a drug known to impact negatively on a person’s psyche. British comedian Paul Merton once ended up in a psyche ward for months because he was taking mefloquine as an anti-malarial. I had malaria – what was I to do?
I stayed in bed pretty much for a few days, but Jim hounded me on every occasion. Offering to buy me food (with my money for a small fee) and then asking for money for things he needed. Or didn’t. I don’t really know for three-four days my temperature was around the 40 degrees mark. So, I decided to get the hell out of Banfora, and head to my next planned destination of Bobo-Diolosso.
This town with a cool sounding name is Burkina Faso’s second city, a few hours from Banfora by bus. No doubt Jim, for a tidy sum, organised a bus ticket for me. I remember sitting at the desolate bus station waiting for the bus to arrive. Fever was down, stomach wasn’t so great, and Jim was sitting next to me asking for more and more money. By this stage I had little to give him and needed to exchange traveller’s cheques.
After waiting over an hour the bus arrived. He stayed and watched until the bus left. It wasn’t a great bus ride. All I was eating was bread and bananas basically, and from time to time I was getting overwhelmed by feelings of mass anxiety as a side effect of the mefloquine. I found a pretty nice and well priced hotel in Bobo-Diolosso, and went straight to bed. The room was at least cooler than the one in Banfora, I was still getting a fever that came and went, and swallowing was getting worse.
I got up and went to a couple of banks. At one they refused to exchange traveller’s cheques, and I was really nearly out of cash. I lost it big time in there yelling like a crazy man. The woman ignored me completely, fair enough too although my circumstances were somewhat … extreme – for me. Another place thankfully did change the cheques.
I tried to eat food, that is something other than bread and bananas. Dinner at a really nice little place I vaguely remember was roast chicken and chips. But it was so hard to swallow, I could barely eat half of what was served. Yes, I had lost a lot of weight. I met some Australians at my hotel, but they were there to study drumming and weren’t interested in me and what I was going through. Fair enough, really, but it was so tough doing this on my own.
I went to the hospital there. I talked about swallowing, and the doctor said he thought the malaria was not cured and gave me some alternative medication to try. He seemed to think I’d get better pretty quickly. It was about at this point I stopped blogging, although I tried to continue on with the trip and put it all behind me.
I visited the mosque, a cool museum and walked around town a bit, but honestly I was still really sick and probably shouldn’t have. I wasn’t able to sleep for a long, continuous time and the anxiety attacks were stronger and more frequent. What was I to do?
I decided, I’ll take a bus to the next country and maybe things will start to turn in my favour. So I bought a bus ticket to Mali. It was going to be a long one, that’s for sure, but I turned up there in the morning, packed, and boarded the bus. Off we went, and it was slow going getting out of Bobo. There were a series of police check points.
I sat there in the bus. It was reasonably cool, but my anxiety was bad, and I was feeling very ill again. Stomach no good, not able to eat much, things were spinning around me. Suddenly, I realised, I was not in a fit state to travel and this was madness. At a police checkpoint outside Bobo-Diolosso, I asked for my bag, got off the bus and took a taxi back to my hotel, where my room was still vacant. Sometimes in the moment you know it’s the right thing to do. It seemed that continuing on this African adventure, at this point in time, was not the thing to do.
TO BE CONTINUED…