Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not a happy bunny

Perhaps we have just been very lucky until now, or perhaps is has to do with being two and a half and not understanding very well the concept of clean and dirty, but Joaquim is currently recovering from his second nasty tropical disease, only a couple of months after his first. Step forwards ameobic dysentry. It started with a high fever and lack of appetite. “Malaria,” we thought, and whisked him off to the private clinic for a finger-prick test. Joaquim recognised the clinic: “They’re going to do an ow, they’re going to do an ow on my finger,” he wailed pitifully in Portuguese. “No, no, no! I don’t want it!” You can imagine how much fun this was. One negative result, one largely sleepless night, and a bout of violent diarrhea later, we were back at the clinic for more tests. His temperature was almost 40C, they fed him paracetamol, wrapped him in wet blankets and turned on the air-con. He cooled down and fell asleep. I was giving thanks for the private clinic – relatively new – which is clean and comfortable and has nice bathrooms with running water, in complete contrast to the provincial hospital where we would otherwise have had to go.

Joaquim woke up to more ows – first in his hand, where they failed to draw blood, then in his arm, successfully. He was sobbing, it was horrible. I had armed myself with some Winnie the Pooh sweets (recently arrived from the UK, thankyou Maman) which successfully and quickly calmed him down, the anticipation having been worse than the act itself. Next a urine and faeces sample – painless, easy. We waited, we got the results, the doctor asked us to come back for the afternoon paediatric clinic for a prescription. Joaquim was not best pleased to be back at the clinic, but repeated over and over to himself and to everyone around him my assurance that there were to be no ows and no pricks this time. With this little mantra he stayed calm and behaved impecably with the doctor. In fact, he was doing a very good impersonation of a well child.

The worst is over, I thought. Step forwards metronidazole. One tablet three times a day with meals, for eight days. OK, no problem. Except that metronidazole is the most revoltingly, gag-inducingly bitter stuff you have ever come across, only available here in uncoated tablets. Impossible to get it down him. More wailing, utterly pitiful dribbling and gagging. I was in despair. Ameobic dysentry does not go away on its own and can cause serious problems if left untreated. We managed to sneak a dose into his breakfast cereal – crushed and inside an emptied-out paracetamol capsule (no taste, slippery), burried in mashed banana. He found the one at lunch and we had to force feed it to him. Hideous. No more, I decided. I called the very expensive and very good Swedish clinic in Maputo. “Paediatric metronidazole? No, we don’t stock it any more, it was always going out of date.” DESPAIR. “Hang on…” (anxious wait…) “I remembered that we ordered two lots. Yes, we have some.” HOORAY!

It’s arriving tomorrow with DHL, total cost about £25, and I would have paid many times that. Joaquim has also stabilised so tomorrow we start again, hopefully with less stress and more success. I’m stocking up with sweets to bribe him with.

Living in Africa has its bad days, and that was one of them, but once again this has brought home our immense good fortune in being well-off, well-fed, generally healthy and owners of medical insurance that will fly us out of here if necessary. Unlike almost everyone else in this country.

4 Comments:

At 9:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

poor little fellow. glad all seems better now, or getting that way.

GIve him and his mini-me bro a cuddle from his cousins in Wilts.

 
At 2:41 pm, Anonymous Emma said...

Becs, what a heart-wrenching story. What a nightmare. Well done to J on being so brave, and to you. Keep those winnie the pooh sweets stocked up. Photos of the boys are adorable by the way. emma xxx

 
At 2:21 pm, Blogger Rebecca said...

Thanks guys. Lollipops now standing in for WtP, so far so good. S was also down with a bad cold, but both boys now improving. P is in Maputo, I'm hanging on...

 
At 3:18 pm, Blogger swisslil said...

I second all that from Emma. My heart was in my mouth as I read all that. Glad you're all on the mend...and thanks for the reminder re. the predicament of most Moz'cans. Humbling stuff all round. xx

 

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