Thursday, 19 February 2015

I Don't Want to carry Rhubarb!

I was so very sad. I'd just died and I felt an over-whelming sense of grief about it.

But then came the news that everyone had to move out of the building we were in. We all had to get out and go to the camp site. It was vital that we all went.

But I had just died!

No, we all had to go. Everyone. Each one had a different job to do. My job was to be a carrier. I had to take a bag, pick and carry rhubarb.

But I had just died!

I didn't want to carry anything. I wanted to be able to just run. To be free.

No! I had to carry rhubarb.

I started running. I didn't take a bag. I didn't stop to pick rhubarb. I was running. Running through the fields. I was dead. I was free. But they came after me. With the bag. Shouting at me. Telling me, that I had to carry rhubarb.

I fell face down.

I woke! Sobbing. With the words, “But I don't want to carry rhubarb!” ringing through my cloudy, befuddled mind.

Such are the dreams induced by IV quinine! “ I don't want to carry rhubarb!” is No 2 on my 'Most Memorable Phrases from November 2014' list. No 1 on the list, is the phrase, “ This one is full of Malaria.”

It all started weeks ago. At October Half-term, a long wet trek through the jungle, looking for baboons, left me with a significant asthma crisis. In the weeks that followed, I also discovered that my energy had packed it's bags and moved on, to who knows where. I began to experience the joy of dizzy spells. The need to rest, after walking up stairs. Making a list of all the things I needed to do downstairs before venturing on the trip. Using the 'student toilet' because it is on the same floor as the classroom. And so on and so forth. Anything that saved energy and helped me keep going.

My mantra became, 'it's just asthma, get on with it.'

No I didn't need to go the Doctor........why?.......because.......well, just because!

Slowly, slowly things got worse. But I am a firm believer in that saying my mother taught me. 'If something is being annoying, just ignore it and it will go away eventually.' On reflection, I think maybe she was trying to help me deal with my brothers, not sickness.

Eventually, the Doctor decision was removed from my stubborn grasp. I was escorted off to see the Pnuemologist. Who decided a course of steroids was needed. (Wednesday)

Friday (two days later) 5:25pm found me at the end of two days of Parent Interviews. Just about every body had gone home. I had my laptop, nebulizer and books in my ruck-sac. I am on steroids, I must be getting better. (I reason) It's ok, I can walk home. 55Mins later I stagger through the front door. The walk usually takes 10 to 15mins. How wrong was I? I couldn't walk home!

Monday, back to the Pneumologist. He's not in. So off to the hospital. Blood tests and chest x ray. Verdict. Severe anaemia. Solution. Blood transfusion. Sharp intake of breath. A blood transfusion in Africa. One slightly offended Doctor, who informs us that Black blood is the same as white blood! Oh yes, we agree, it's not that, it's just ….... do you screen it? Further offence taken. Of course. After a phone call for reassurance from a Burundian husband. The transfusion was set to go ahead.

Two weeks later, that phrase was issued 'this one is full of Malaria'. Yes, the blood is screened, but No, not for malaria!
 Everything needed to be done in a hurry, so I found myself in Jabe Hospital. My room happened to be located 20m from Jabe church. Jabe church we discovered has prayer meetings from 6am to 7am every morning. Evening prayer meetings from 6pm to 8pm. A Sunday service from 9am - 1pm. Oh, and by the way a few impromptu Prayer meetings from 1am to 3am!!  Guess what else we discovered, God is DEAF! Even at 2 am in the morning He needs to be shouted at. It is not possible to talk to God quietly, if you want Him to hear, you have to shout loudly, sing loudly, pray loudly!
Sadly, one of the biggest side effects of IV quinine is a thumping headache and ringing in the ears. Oh so funny to look back on. But not so hilarious at the time.

So that accounted for November and December!
The Christmas holiday saw a great new addition to my life. I am now mobile. The walk to and from school kept leaving me shattered, so I decided that it was time to invest in a Moto.
The plan was to just use it for the very simple route to and from school. This involved only a few junctions and very quiet roads. That I could manage (I hoped).
 However, once I discovered the joy of being mobile again, I realised that I could actually attempt some far more ambitious trips.
My strategy has been to flash a big smile at all the cars, buses, taxis, motos that appear to know far better than I do, which side of the road I should be on and whose right of way it is.
I am becoming increasingly skilled at 'pothole avoidance'. It no longer phases me when other drivers pull alongside me and shout 'Hey Muzungu!'.

This year was the first time I have spent Christmas outside England. It was an interesting experience. I hated being so far from family, but enjoyed seeing a different side of life.
 I think it's best just to put some photos in,
Christmas morning at CRIB, opening presents

Christmas dinner with some Street Children

Christmas Eve party

So it's been a long time in the pipeline, this Blog. A new laptop, poor power and internet have contributed to the delay. A serious absence of energy and brain power have also dragged things down.
But such as it is, here it is.

The final photo is a Red Bishop that visited  our compound on Saturday. It hadit in it's head that it had found a 'date' in the kitchen window.

The contrast in the photo says so much about Burundi.