A BOUT OF MALARIA: PART 1

It was a day like any other. At school by 7:30, trying to wake myself up before my 8:00am class, sitting at my desk in the teachers lounge. The other teachers come in and out of the room as they have free time and the atmosphere is jovial and lively. It is always fun to see these teachers interact with each other, as there seems to be a perpetual joke happening between them, always followed by the famous Kenyan belly laugh. As I still don’t speak a word of Kiswahili I have no idea what they are saying, but it is always fun to be around regardless. My class goes off without a problem; the children all seemed to have enjoyed themselves and maybe, just maybe, learned a thing or two.

Despite my having only one class to teach per day I typically try to stick around the school in order to be part of the school happenings. However, there is CES business to take care of today and I must take off early to meet with Malik at the office. I suppose my first recollection of symptoms is when I had arrived at the office early that afternoon. I can remember feeling particularly tired at that point, seemingly more so than usual. Considering how busy the pervious weekend had been, how little sleep I had had, I figure that my fatigue is just a result of neglecting my personal well-being. Hell, I survived four year in university with much worse sleeping habits, so I figure that this ain’t anything new.
I realize, however, that something is most definitely different this time around when I had finished my meeting and had returned to my home. At this point, I am not experiencing fatigue, but rather absolute exhaustion. My muscles seemingly ache from tiredness. My eye lids droop down, fighting a loosing battle to stay open. My brain has a blanket of haze covering it, tingling with effort to maintain consciousness. The thought of making any kind of food would require effort that I know I cannot fuel, even boiling water is out of the question. I decide that for once in my life and against all personal objections, I have no choice but to take an afternoon nap. I don’t know why I have always been so against naps, perhaps due to a worry that I might miss something. However, historically nothing has ever happened and I simply just spend the rest of the day walking around in a zombie-ish state. By around 4:00pm I hit the bed and am instantly out like a light.
It isn’t until 7:00pm that I finally wake back up. It’s weird, because while I suppose I do feel somewhat better, but I don’t really feel significantly better. All of the fatigue symptoms remain, though perhaps slightly diminished. If anything things are getting a bit worse, as now I have a splitting headache to keep me company. I figure that more sleep is out of the question for the time being else Ill never sleep later on, so I might as well get up and try to do something productive, knowing full well that nothing productive will likely happen. As I sit at my computer with my bowl of leftover sukuma wiki, I notice how cool it is outside. I had always been amused by my co-workers as they described to this Canadian ‘used-to-walk-to-school-in -40-below-weather’ man how cold it is in Kakamega, but tonight is definitely pushing towards the chilly side.

Eventually I succumb to my reluctance and find the one and only article of cold weather gear that I had brought and throw on the hoodie. One rarely gets to live an oxymoron like this, that of looking for a sweater while in Kenya, but when it happens one has to appreciate its improbability. By this point it is about 8:00pm and I know that something is most definitely not right. The sweater seems to be doing very little to warm my body and shivers start to roll in. The coldness feels as though it is radiating out from within my body, chilled right down to my bones. By this point I am literally hugging my own torso, confused as hell as to what is going on, head still split down the middle with a full on fog encapsulating my brain, causing my perceptions to skip a beat, much like that experienced on a vinyl record skipping tracks. I figure ‘To hell with this’, and decide that the only thing to do is to hit the bed again. The most confusing thing of all is that all of these experiences are not coupled with the historically highly correlated experience of nausea. My stomach is perfectly fine, rather it’s just my other systems that are running amok. I hope back into bed and cocoon myself in my blanket, praying to any god that might be listening for an easy night. As I lay there in the darkness, contemplating the many permutations of possibility, I realize just how vulnerable a person is when it comes to health matter while traveling abroad. I toss and turn for who knows how long and eventually fall asleep.

The next morning I wake up and am actually feeling quite a bit better. The coldness has subsided, actually leaving my shirt drenched in sweat as I had slept a Kenyan night in about 4 layers of fabric of various thickness. If I wasn’t confused before, you can imagine how confused I might have been now. The only reminder that the previous night’s experience had actually happened was that the fatigue and fog is still ever present. Weird.

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