Sunday, 2 September 2018

Francis Hannaway: Malaria strikes!

I started to shiver a bit. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I thought, and carried on as normal.

I’d been in Kinshasa, when I was called home to a funeral. I stayed for a week in Maidenhead, at Mill Hill Missionaries headquarters, before staying with my sister, Rose, in Middlesbrough.

The day after the funeral, which took place on a Monday, Rose said that I seemed a bit under the weather. “I know what it is,” she confided. “I suffer with hay fever, every year, myself.” So, she gave me an antihistamine. I took it – but I wasn’t convinced.

Tuesday, I started shivering and took a nap to overcome a fatigue which had gripped me. I lay in bed, still in denial about what this illness was. I pondered the days leading up to the shivers.

I take pills every week while I’m in the Congo, to stop me from getting malaria which I had 25 years ago.
Malaria is a parasite that lives in your blood and is Africa’s biggest killer. The day before I returned to England, I ran out of tablets - but having been free of malaria during my recent four years, I wasn’t unduly worried. “I’ll sort it out when I arrive in England,” I’d thought. But I didn’t.

Wednesday, I was as right as rain, and more than happy to join my brother and his children for a walk in the nearby hills. Thursday, I called in at my doctor’s to arrange more malaria pills for my return to the Congo. The same afternoon I started shivering again at my brother’s house, shivering so much that I ached. I walked back to my sister, Rose’s, and warmed up in the sunshine. I went straight to bed.
Eight o’clock, that evening, I texted Rose from my bed, “I think it’s getting serious!” Fifteen minutes later we were in the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department.

Francis Hannaway with
his sister, Rose Lawson.

I was very ill – low blood pressure, low temperature, alternating with a high temperature, headache, nausea...

After spending the night on a drip and having countless checks throughout the night I was allowed to go home on Friday evening.

One week before,
in Saltburn.

Treatment continued for another week, followed by another two weeks of building up my strength.

The treatment was for Plasmodium falciparum  malaria, comprising quinine, which is harsh on the body, tiring, and makes your hearing become dull. Really, it was three weeks of sleeping, but at least I wasn’t dead.

Anophelese mosquito
- pesky little critters ...

I’ve now arrived back in Kinshasa, to yet more political upheaval and yet another Ebola outbreak, this time in the east of the country. The number of children in my centres for malnourished children is starting to go down from 72, as edible caterpillars become available locally.

The biggest wish I have for my return, though, is never to have malaria again!

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