Malaria Tests

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Mon 8 Aug 2016 22:27
Malaria Tests
IMG_1671  IMG_1673
Ten of us crammed back to back sitting on a free-roving stretcher in the back of a small ambulance. No fixtures or fittings resembling a ‘real’ emergency craft (completely bare save for the current seating arrangement), but Deb insisted we have the siren on. This made absolutely no difference to traffic getting out of the way, the driver still had to bib every time we passed anything and flashers on to go straight across a roundabout. School children looked up expecting to see a trauma victim only to find enthusiastic hands waving from the windows. After twenty minutes we arrived at the hospital to disembark with - let’s face it - had we a suspected anything broken, the jostling would have cured or ensured the need for critical care.
The reason for our trip was partly due to an email from Richard (Kereru) – below I have lifted his blog entry.......
Breaking News - Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally decimated by Malaria
06/Aug/2016, At sea - heading for Wanci

No, really - it's true! It seems as though the 5 day stay at Banda Neira, which was only our second stop on the rally through Indonesia, left most of us with a dose of malaria. At stop number 3, Namrole,a couple of the fleet started feeling under the weather and were soon diagnosed with malaria. Then one, well (apparently) sailor decided to get tested "just in case" and she came back positive. So the next day the crews of the boats that remained in Namrole all lined up at the thoughtfully provided medical tent on the quayside (did the organisers know something?!) for a finger prick, the test results waiting for us when we returned from the day's activities (river rafting on bamboo rafts - quite a laugh!).

The outcome - a total of 19 people positive for malaria (mixed p.falciparum and p.vivax) out of 23 tested. Most of us were symptom free or just in the early stages with some headaches and lethargy but one crew member has been hospitalised and another is not feeling the best. These two probably contracted the disease in Tual, the first stop of the rally and so have more advanced symptoms. There are another 10 or 12 boats that left Namrole early or didn't attend that stop, so the malaria score is bound to get much higher once these crews get tested. 

Thanks to Sarah from the NZ yacht 'Soul', who insisted that we all get tested after she came back positive, the outcome should be good for all of us. Within an hour of the positive test results today, an ambulance arrived from the hospital laden with anti-malarial medication and enough anti-malarial prophylactic to last each of us for the whole Indonesian trip. It seems that all we have to do is take a fist full of pills for four days and the nasty little plasmodia parasites should be knocked on the head............... Here's hoping!

NOTE: We haven't had decent internet coverage for a while now, so this is a text only posting. Normal service will be resumed at the earliest opportunity.

IMG_1675  IMG_1674  IMG_1678
On the radio this morning we heard our local coordinator – Gino, tell the fleet that blood tests had been arranged in the office at nine o’clock. Bear suggested that it would be deeply embarrassing if either of us had malaria and insisted we go. I was not keen, had no doubt we were negative but went tutting. En route we picked Deb and Bruce up (Matilda) who had spoken to Grant and Mary (El Gato). We gathered Gary and Bev (Wirraway) who were taking preventatives but that didn’t stop Bear in his quest. The nine o’clock resulted in the health lady via interpreter saying we were to go to hospital and to wait ten minutes. This was clearly island time and we tumbled out of the doors at eleven o’clock. My favourite photo-bomber Deb emerged and followed through as a sick person posing in the mobile screen.
The hospital itself looked quite welcoming.
The main entrance clearly a work in progress.
IMG_1683  IMG_1684
Our driver pretending to have a bad leg as Gary looks on. We queue to write our names and ages in the register.
IMG_1685  IMG_1686
The rest of us enjoyed the fountain as Bruce tucked into something very green.
IMG_1688  IMG_1689
Half an hour later we were led along a path to the stabbing block where a pair of rubber gloves sat thoughtfully on the windowsill.
IMG_1687  IMG_1690  IMG_1691
The stabbers weren't ready for us so we headed to the blood pressure block. There we occupied ourselves the the myriad children belonging to various staff members, jumped on the scales, took pictures, posed in the dentist chair in the middle of the corridor and sat to chat.
IMG_1692  IMG_1693  IMG_1694
My life-long blood pressure of 110 over 70 became 100 over 60 which served Bear well as his white coat hypertension was masked by the shortfall. He did wince as flesh balled through the gap in the cuff (no oversize.....) but was quite pleased with his 130 over 90 – an all time low for him. Silly sausage – how can he be worried when a perfectly old fashioned sphygmomanometer presents such a tame front...... Always been the same. Reassuring the doctor that he had been in the trade she gave her best grin and on we went.
IMG_1697  IMG_1698
More playing in the corridor. Mary rowed up and down until we had all ticked the box.
Back to the stabber where Bruce, Gary and Bear sat like the three wise monkeys.
By the time I went in there were a couple left to stab, the line up after four boats. Twenty minutes after – all negative.....
IMG_1702  IMG_1705  IMG_1707
Deb’s turn in the hot seat.
All better – Deb with the technicians.
IMG_1710  IMG_1711
All over, it was back in the ambulance passing the garden ornaments (the pearls in the shells were painted footballs). Deb wanted the siren but there was a hearty NO. We were dropped off at a ‘restaurant’, a work in progress being built around us and then had a bimble along the ‘high street’.
Thinking about this whole episode in bed - that drained a morning from my life, my questions are :– how can so many have tested positive with the tests performed in Namrole ??? while all of the boats tested over two days here been negative ??? How can the handful of cerebral malaria sufferers show not a single symptom ??? Two genuinely have malaria out of thirty six (one mild, one more severe). The rest I suspect have varying degrees of Delhi Belly, ordinary fatigue and a few coughs and colds. Let’s face it, in such a corrupt country the whole thing could be down to a p---ing match.
I do believe we should all be re-tested in Bali because there was one idiot who was sad and angry he tested negative...........................
Clearly and once again, this proves I am not a herd animal.