My first experience of malaria was NOTHING like the second time I got it.
26th May 2010, roughly around 3pm GMT, the African heat hit me. Finally, I had touched Ghanaian soil, after months of preparation and countless sleepless nights, here I was, the start of a 3 month journey, to be the change I wanted the world to be, armed with a medical kit, enough doxy to knock an elephant out, plenty of passion and of course shed loads of enthusiasm, I was ready for anything, or so I thought I was. Well ready for the ten hour journey to the village on the bumpiest roads, ready for the ever unsettled stomach, the heat, the bugs, but one thing I really wasn’t ready for was the malaria. We as a group had heard the rumours about the previous group having masses occurrences of malaria, but we shrugged it off as to teens being lazy with taking their doxy tablets, we were confident that the same wasn’t going to happen to us, that was until the first week in one of the guys fell ill, we all took it to be the 24hr bug everybody had been hit with, until he didn’t get any better, one trip later to the clinic, and he came home with a cocktail of drugs for malaria treatment!!! This knocked everyone for six, and there it began, every few days another person was down with malaria. Then came my turn, it seemed so casual, so expected, it was becoming the norm, quite traumatic I felt particularly what with me having just recently got involved with the Faiths Acts malaria campaign, this was MALARIA, not a cold, but a life threatening disease and here everyone seemed so at ease with it, it was shocking to say the least. My first experience of malaria was NOTHING like the second time I got it. Having got malaria once before, and having seen 16 people I lived with contract it, I had become familiar with the symptoms, which is why in the 8th week of my trip, I knew something wasn’t right on the Sunday I had returned from nearby Kumasi. Going to work on Monday was a no-no, I laid in bed at home unable to do anything other than sleep. The thing about malaria was there are times when you feel absolutely fine and then other times when even breathing itself feels like a challenge. So I was up and down like a yo-yo but my heatlh progressively declined, until nobody in the group saw me bar those I shared a room with. Thursday night was when things took a turn for the worse, I began convulsing and my temperature shot through the roof, however at the time I was absolutely frozen, everyone panicked and at 10pm that night I had to be rushed to hospital, it was located in the town of Goaso, around 15 mins drive from the village, although that night, the journey couldn’t have felt any longer than it did. I arrived at the hospital, and was shown immediately to a stained bed in the mixed ward, where a number of people lay in beds with various injuries, from small infants to an elderly lady opposite myself. I was offered to be put on a drip or to have an injection, I opted for the latter of two, having seen my friend get a clot from having a drip a few weeks earlier. The injection enabled me to get a decent night’s sleep, although from all the drama of the week, I was absolutely shattered at this point. I awoke the next morning early and eager to escape the hospital as the sounds of people vomiting and in pain was almost on par in terms of traumatic experience, with the malaria. The doctor came around to the do the rounds, and he prescribed me the necessary medication and discharged me from the hospital. It was a huge relief to return home and be able to rest in familiar surroundings. I remained unwell during the course of my medication and for a few days afterwards, which coincided with the long journey home, sleep, at this point had well and truly become my friend, and the coping mechanism for me getting through the flights, long hours of waiting around in airport lounges and of course the long drive from London to Manchester. An experience most certainly indeed, and not one I was expecting to go through TWICE, but it most certainly did fire up my passion in terms of my involvement with Faiths Act, and gave me a whole new perspective on how malaria affects peoples lives.