Thursday, 2 July 2009

In Sickness and In Health...

After a blessed six months on the road, we are so grateful that by and large, we have remained relatively healthy.  At least, there have been no hospitalisations and apart from only four independent visits to local doctors (in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique & RSA), we have managed to rely on our trustworthy in-house medical advisor, Rob Adams! We were superbly prepared for all eventualities, however, should we have had any need for any of the highly specialised equipment we carried, ranging from basic dentistry to blood transfusions to sutures!

The trip began with one patient already on board: that was Little Max with his grossly swollen mumps face, followed timely by Ben on Christmas Day, in Tanzania. Minor aliments such as coughs and colds have been par for the course, as indeed has been the odd upset tummy. The young boys have been unfailingly predictable in their various collections of cuts, scratches and bruises. Xander wins first prize here, in his astounding ability to gather such a sum of said trophies!

In the more interesting category of ailments, there have been cracked-heels and wind-cracked skin Gus & Little Max) in the Western desert, coral-sliced feet (Big Max & Jake), a marauding wart invasion over Xander’s elbow and fingers, which – when ‘burnt off’ – changed form into vast bulbous blisters (not unlike something out of Dr Who!); infected bites and suspected jiggers in the feet (Robert), a recurring earlobe cyst (Benedict) and a painful trio of armpit boils (the patient of which shall remain anonymous, to be saved from embarrassment !)

But the final category contains The Best (or is it The Worst?) of Jangano 2009’s medical afflictions...the most bloody prize goes to Little Max, who managed to put his hand through a glass door in Cairo. He sustained a very impressive cut that sliced deeply along one of his fingers – thankfully, the slice didn’t go through the finger totally and it remains fixed firmly to his hand. Even more thankfully, we were staying at the time with Dr Kate, who fixed Max up beautifully! The most conventional (and only) disease award goes to Gus, who picked up malaria in Malawi. Unfortunately, he shivered his feverish way all through Mozambique and into RSA before confirming it was indeed malaria. In the meantime, he had been consistently mis-diagnosed with bilharzia, tick-bite fever and a lung infection! Finally, Ben wins the Most Gruesome prize. When in Tanzania, as the local doctor was lancing a “boil” on his scalp just above his ear, it wasn’t pus that emerged from the sore swelling, but a fat, squirming putzi-fly grub! Yes indeed, a grim sight to behold, but one of those sickeningly fascinating moments, too, when one cannot take ones eyes away from the sheer disbelief of such a thing!

So all in all, we have been incredibly blessed in health and safety. Much has to be said in favour of our simple diet for our good health during these months, however frugal and plain it sometimes was! Though now we are about to reintroduce the ‘naughty but nice’ stuff, such as red wine and dairy back into our diet, I don’t foresee any resistance! Our final quandary is What To Do with our unused, massive box of medical kit?

Maybe we’ll just hold onto it for the next trip...?!

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