Monday, April 19, 2010

Malaria makes me fat

Last time I had malaria, I was co-infected with typhoid. I stayed at home. I watched three seasons of The Wire. I ate mostly watermelon and pineapple. I drank a lot of juice and sometimes made tea. Over the two-and-a-half months I considered myself very sick, I gained ten pounds.

Yes. Ten.

I'm lucky, because you couldn't really notice it. But when I realized I had gained this weight while suffering from two simultaneous tropical illnesses, I was confused. Actually, I was more like: W. T. F. ??!! Almost four months later, I've pretty much lost it. But I would be lying if I didn't say that this sickbed weight gain was a deciding factor for taking malaria prophylaxis--in my case, 100 mg of doxycycline with a morning or evening meal.

Both Nate and I are good about taking, but here's the thing about the malaria parasite. For every drug developed to prevent malaria, there is a strain of the parasite that is resistant to it. Current drugs prescribed are malarone, metholoquine (generic Larium) and doxycycline, but know three people in the last two months who take malarone and got malaria. And malarone is the expensive one at $5 a pop, usually only taken by people whose jobs pay for it.

Anyway, I've not minded being on doxy. My surfing injuries heal faster, I get food poisoning less and I don't mind remembering to take it daily. What I didn't know is that it also makes malaria--when you do get it, because living here, you will--run itself out at 20% of the usual symptoms.

This is marvelous. It means I only feel slightly weak and disoriented. I still have energy to do stuff, but my blood feels weird. We're taking it easy, but I'm reading, writing and planning the ice cream menu for Tides. It's almost--dare I say it?--fun. Like having the chicken pox without the spots.

As long as I don't gain 10 pounds.


  1. Hey Hey!
    Just finding your webbed self here. Nice.
    OK, have you tried chinese wormwood for malaria? It's a herbal mix of the root of the wormwood tree and that plant they make the powerful anti-malarial drug from. But in herbal form. It was extraordinarily successful for me. I can track some down for you if you like.

  2. so sorry to hear you got malaria again!


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