I am asked by most of the guests if I take malaria meds. If you're in Africa for a one-off trip you should probably dose up on everything the Western Doc wants to give you. But living here, malaria is just one of the fun things you live with. Taking meds for years is crazy, they are prophylactics and can mask the symptoms, and if I'm gonna load my body with chemicals, I wanna buzz. So how do you deal with it? If you feel flu like symptoms you go to the camp manager and ask for the malaria test kit. If it turns pink it's a girl, if it turns blue you get a ride to town and get treated. Malaria is quite curable if caught early.
So I don't worry too much about the whole thing. The mosquitoes aren't bad here especially when compared to other places I've lived. I don't even use repellent, or didn't.
I woke one morning about two weeks ago with a pimple on my ankle. First thought of the day, 'When is the puberty thing gonna end? My forehead is growing and I have new hairs on my ears that need attention so why am I having teenager issues?
The pimple grew and swelled my ankle. After about a week it went from mildly amusing to quite painful. I showed the camp manager. He said spider bite. I said cool, now what? Now we draw the pus out with the anti-venom suction kit. Juan(pronounced with Jacques style 'J' sound at the beginning and 'John' vowels) grabbed the biggest end for the suction kit to cover as much of the swollen area as possible. The plan was to keep stepping down with the end pieces until the goo came out. Whew diggity, it's a good thing that pain is stored in the short-term memory. Imagine if you could remember every time you stubbed your toe. By the time we got four sizes down I was sweating from the sensation but finally some yellow stuff filled the clear tube and relief mixed with the pain.
For the next week the swelling continued to go down as did the pain. Winning? Nope. Woke up with one well-turned ankle (a term in every Louis L'Amour novel I read as a kid, bummer that that was all a guy had to go on back in the day was to sneak a peak at an ankle) and one cheese curd eating, Packer fan, ankle.
I had to do a transfer from a campsite upstream that involved buzzing a jet ski driven by royalty (less on that story later) on my way to Maun. While in town I showed my wound to the Doc that does our med-evacs. She worked tropical medicine for a time. Misha takes one look and says, 'I wish you wouldn't have messed with it. Violin spiders can be very dangerous. I'm glad you came to me. We have time to treat it before you lose the foot.' Wanna gross out? Google image 'Violin spider.'
So I'm taking ten pills a day and dousing my foot with anti-septic and bathing in bug dope.