Thursday, 25 December 2008

Day 4 - Migraine

"Migraine is a severe headache, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

There are two types:

Migraine with aura (classical) - the headache is preceded by a preliminary phase called an aura, when symptoms such as seeing flashing lights, temporary visual loss, speech problems or numbness of the face or arms may occur.

Migraine without aura (common) - no aura precedes the headache Both types of migraine frequently start with changes in mood and feelings of general hunger or particular food cravings.

Migraine attacks last from four to 72 hours and are usually felt on one side of the head. During this time sufferers usually need to lie down in a quiet and darkened room since the throbbing headache is often made worse by movement, noise and light."*


I spent the first few hours of Christmas day in a French clinic in Burgundy.

It has been four days now and I still have a constant headache.

The doctor took my blood pressure. He poked my knees with a hammer. My legs bounced forward. More blood tests, more questions.

I waited in the lounge with my friend - we gave each other a hug at midnight: “Merry Christmas”.

The doctors said it can't be malaria as I don't have a fever, and the new blood tests only go to prove that - they are all clear. Everything is normal.

The doctor decides it’s a migraine. I am not sensitive to light or sound, and I have a healthy appetite. But I am tired. He has prescribed some paracetamol to take daily and some migraine tablets to take for one week.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Day 1 - Malaria

"Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes.

In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite.

If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.


- A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.

- Approximately half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries.

- Malaria takes an economic toll - cutting economic growth rates by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates."


I think I have malaria. I returned from Nigeria two days ago where I was posted for seven weeks for work.

I couldn’t get out of bed this morning; I had so much to do but when the alarm went off at 9am I couldn’t move. I just closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

Last night my head started to ache but I didn’t think much of it. Usually when I have a headache I just go to sleep without taking anything (not a big fan of medication) and the following morning I tend to awake headache free.

Not this morning. And I was so tired. So very tired. I finally managed to get out of bed at 11.

I walked home to see my mother who was in London on holiday. I felt sick. I felt weak.

I wanted to lie down in the middle of the pavement, in the star shape.

The buildings were spinning, the road was spinning. I needed to lie down.

I pushed on home and eventually decided to go to hospital.

“I think I have malaria”. The receptionist at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital A&E gave me a raised eyebrow.

The nurse took my blood pressure. She poked my knees with a hammer. My legs bounced forward.

“Which malaria pills did you take?”

“I didn’t take any malaria pills”

“Do you realize that malaria is fatal? Millions of people die every year from malaria. And the kind of malaria in Nigeria is amongst the most fatal in the world. Why did you not take antimalarials?” she asked, accusingly.

I felt sick. I felt weak. I didn’t want to talk, or explain, I just wanted to lie down and get rid of the sharp pain in my right temple.

I am now at home and am about to call the hospital to get my results. I was told that for the malaria test to be accurate, three blood samples should be taken on different days as one sample may come out as negative although it may be positive.

I just called. Mine is negative.