Mike and I headed back to Kampala after dropping my Auntie Chriss off at the airport, with a small but annoying motorcycle maintenance list, which had to be completed before we could head off towards Rwanda. We both needed front tires, Mike needed a 17-inch rear, we both needed to check valve clearances and change the oil. We had been procrastinating a bit, because it’s always a chore to go into the city center and find the tires and the oil that’s needed.
However, things did not go to plan at all. Mike mentioned he was feeling strange, feverish and sore joints and skin. It was five in the afternoon and we both did not want to be finding a hospital at night, so we went to the pharmacy in search for an over the counter Malaria test. We were surprised to discover, Uganda does not have that kind of test that is common in all other East African countries. The Pharmacist directed us to the local hospital just around the corner.
We rode over there and Mike got the simple blood test. Ten minutes later, we found out, he did indeed have malaria and the bad type – Cerebral malaria. We booked in with a doctor to ask what happens now, and he just sat there behind his desk laughing at us. “See, now you can see and feel what it is like for an African”. I was blown away by his attitude to us and did not trust him one bit as I started to wonder if he just wanted to somehow extract more money out of us. When he recommended Mike was to be admitted I was not too happy about the situation and asked if he could be treated as an outpatient. That was permitted even though they kept on telling us it might be impossible.
While I nervously filled out the next of kin information, Mike was emitted to a bed and was put on an IV drip that contained the drugs needed to fight the malaria. This was the start of a routine of 4 hours on the drip and 4 hours off and repeated for three days. Everything seemed like it was all moving way too fast and I really didn’t want him to spend the night in this hospital in case they took his kidney while he was sleeping!
After the first IV we decided to go back to the guesthouse, leaving Mike’s motorcycle at the hospital because he just didn’t feel up to driving it and I wouldn’t dare to drive his bike in crazy Kampala traffic with all its pot holes. When we got back to the guesthouse, I desperately tried to get a Mike a room, but they were completely booked out. Back to the tent, it is then. 4:30am came too fast. I do not think either of us slept much and now we had to return to the hospital.
After the second round of medicine, Mike’s energy levels had dropped so much we decided to stay in the hospital. We were lucky to have a room with two beds, so I was able to stay with him the whole time and watch the nurses like a hawk to ensure they were doing their jobs correctly and didn’t run off with Mikes kidneys!
After three days of this four hours on and four hours off, he was able to go home. However, Mike’s treatment was not over, he now had to start a course of pills for the next three days. When we were waiting for my malaria test to be completed at the hospital, a doctor walked pasted, noticed Mike and his medicine and casually said, “You’re taking those? You are going to feel like crap”. Thanks doctor, for scaring the living shits out of me! Now I have no idea how Mike is going to react to the medicine.
Then, amongst this stressful time, we finally got a nice surprise. Mike’s Dad then emailed me, saying Mike’s mother was worried and he had booked her tickets to come and visit for a few days to reassure herself Mike is ok. I moved us all into a two bedroom full self-contained cottage. Tony brought with her a huge suitcase of goodies. It was like Christmas all over again!
Mike slowly recovered, but lacked a healthy appetite and energy levels. It had been a whole month since he first was diagnosed with Malaria and we still had not managed to work on our motorcycles. In the meantime, Jay another overlander (to visit Jays website click here) I met in Nairobi , came to visit us at the guesthouse and gave us his front tire he had been carrying with him since South America. Another overlander came through and left us his partially used tire, as he did not trust it anymore after pulling out so many thorns. Now all we had to do was find good engine oil and a 17-inch rear tire for Mike.
We quickly gave up trying to find the tire, down town traffic was manic and then getting lost on all the one way systems meant circling around where we wanted to go a couple of times before we got frustrated. It didn’t take too long and we had both bikes with well-adjusted valves and clean oil and ready to hit the road.