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Christmas 2005, five friends and I went to Vanuatu for a 16 day holiday.
Not long after returning to Australia, four of my friends became rather ill with Malaria. Not very nice. I did not get sick, and I thought that perhaps I might have some sort of natural immunity after having lived in Papua New Guinea as a child. . .Friday the 14th of July, 2006. I was staying with old friends in Uppsala Sweden. I went out with my good friend Xenek, his cousin Stellan and a lovely spanish lady called Miriam. We decided to go to a bar called Fellini, one of my favourites. Apparently I still hold the record for drinking vodka straight from the bottle there since 2000 - but that's a different story. It was a good night, a few beers, lots of laughs, then home to Stellan's place. Suddenly everything became cold. It was 25 degrees in the apartment, yet I was wearing a thick jacket and shivering uncontrollably. My head started aching, teeth chattering. Stellan gave me his bed for the night, and I eventually passed out some hours later in the midst of utter delirium. I remember something about the others wanting to take me to the hospital, and me refusing. Saturday the 15th of July, 2006. I awoke feeling strange, but ok, more or less. Stellan's bed was completely drenched with sweat and smelled odd. It was a normal uneventful day. Sunday the 16th of July, 2006. Another day on the farm "Högby" where I had lived and worked in previous years. Nicke, an eccentric genius mate of mine, who's wife owns the farm, decided to take all of us, and some friends of his, across the lake to a summer camp area for some traditional swedish food. So, somehow we all piled into the boat and miraculously, it did not capsize. It was a merry gathering, and Nicke was feeling particularly generous. Drinks were flowing and the food was fine. Nicke and Xenek, being very well aquainted with my legendary appetite, were the first to notice I was not eating. I also had to force myself to drink one beer. Somehow, I knew what was coming. Before long, my teeth were chattering again. Meanwhile Xenek was happily getting into the spirit of things and Nicke, true to usual form, had passed out, sitting in his chair. Our return home to the farm was a slow journey which began with various people attempting and failing, to rouse Nicke. I made the journey wrapped in a blanket. The others were keen to continue with the general drunken trend and still seemed surprised that I just wanted to go straight to bed. This I did. It was horrible. All I wanted was some pain killers for my exploding brain, but instead had drunken people constantly coming and going from my room, trying to make various diagnosis. Again the "doctor" and "hospital" topics came up, which I vehemently refused through clicking teeth. I didn't know what was going on, but somehow talked myself into believing that it was some sort of reaction to recent, excessive partying habits. Hours later, somebody actually honoured my request, and brought pain killers. It was a long, long night. Somewhere around dawn, I passed out; thank FUCK for that! Monday the 17th of July. I was not surprised to see, when I awoke finally, that I was drenched in sweat. Hmmm, there seemed to be a pattern forming. Again I felt fine, though slightly strange. A girl I had once been somewhat involved with, came to visit, which put a slight emotional twist on things. A quick trip to town, and then back to Stellan's apartment. Tonight I thought I would try a little experiment. No alcohol what so ever. Instead I watched Xenek and Stellan write themselves off and make a general nuisance. I was fine, no more freezing bouts or shakes or headaches. Perhaps I was right? Was it the alcohol? In hindsight, I think deep down I knew what it really was, just didn't want to admit it. Tuesday the 18th of July. We all got up fairly early. Friend's of Stellan's arrived and we went to Grönalund Tivoli in Stockholm in their brand new BMW. Very nice. It was a beautiful day. The owner of the car had a brand new GPS system and was trying to figure out where to go when we ran straight into another new looking BMW in front of us. No damage fortunately, or none that we could see. We all had fun, ibuprofen 200mg pills $169.00 riding the rollercoasters and things. This was to be my last day with Xenek and Stellan. Finally, it was time to go. Goodbye to my drinking buddies. I had arranged to meet an old friend called Helena in town. So off I went, crossed the harbour by water taxi and shortly after, found myself waiting outside the metro station in Medborgarspladsen. It's a colourful area. While waiting, I was even approached by a fellow looking to score some weed. Then of course there was a smelly drunk becoming irate because I wasn't particularly interested in talking to him. . . Helena finally arrived, much to my relief. We found a nice coffee shop and had tea. Just general chit chat. It was lovely to see her again after three years or so. Suddenly, half way through a sentence, a deep shudder started deep within me and spread out over my entire body in a huge wave. Then there were more and more, becoming more frequent. This time it was worse, much, much worse. I was unable to speak, or even walk properly. Ibuprofen 200mg pills $169.00 i managed to croak, "helena, i have to go to the hospital". We staggered to a medical centre. They were unable to supply anything without prescription. A bit more staggering - by this time, Helena was becoming quite beside herself with worry. I needed money and a taxi. Found a cash machine that was not working, and an array of taxis, locked with no drivers. I remember Helena remarking that it felt like "The Twilight Zone". Finally found a taxi and used my credit card to get to St. Göran's Sjukhus (hospital). The hospital was busy. I was tended to by a very effeminate male nurse who obviously was angry at the world for some unknown reason. He threw my bag containing my laptop to the floor with disdain and took numerous blood samples, then inserted a drip into my arm while I continued to shake like jelly. Eventually a doctor came along, asked me what I had been doing and so on. By now, I was pretty sure it must be malaria, so I told him why I thought so. Everybody I spoke to said it was impossible that I might have malaria, however, the viral and bacterial tests were negative, so they put me into a taxi and sent me to Huddinge Sjukhus where they specialize in malaria. Numerous more blood tests. At one stage ibuprofen 200mg pills $169.00, no more blood would issue forth from the vein in my left arm. They did a quick test, and an overnight test. The quick test showed negative for malaria, so the doctor ruled it out. Helena stayed with me the entire time, I was very lucky to have her around. Finally my fever had abaited slightly due to various drugs they had given me and they sent us home. Helena and I went to bed. The next morning there were eight missed calls on my phone. It was the hospital. They said, "You told us that your friends came back from Vanuatu with malaria? Yes well, you did too". Helena and I made the long journey back to Huddinge, the doctor told me I had Plasmodium Vivax, a nasty strain of malaria that kills something like 50% of people who get it. He wrote me a prescription for Larium, of which the side effects include, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of co-ordination, dizziness, hallucinations, nightmares and psychosis. Oh nice! So, home again to Helena's and a few days of rest and walking [ibuprofen 200mg pills $169.00] into door frames and walls. That was the extent of the drug exhibiting side effects, fortunately. I was feeling completely fine within 4 days, thanks in no small part to Helena. It was lovely to just hang around and watch movies and so forth. Helena really looked after me. I hope someday I can return the favour. Mosquitoes really do suck. . .