May 20, 2007
A sudden gut spasm jolted him from slumber in the dead of a silent night. He sat up; the spasm ricocheted through his bowel like a steel spring being slowly tightened. With a gasp he lurched forward, almost shredding the mosquito net that surrounded the bed before he found an opening in the filmy curtain and crawled through. His naked feet hit the floor and he slumped against the wall with one hand while the other clutched his belly, desperate to keep lodged a liquid torrent that was demanding sudden, imminent release.
What followed was not pretty. Thankfully, our hero made it in time, and won the ensuing Battle of the Throne, though not the overall War of The Rhia. Sleep proved impossible throughout the night for the stricken man and his worried lass, who could only cringe at the weird, horrifying sounds that emanated periodically from behind the closed bathroom door.
It wasn’t until past dawn that the enemy suddenly reversed direction and came surging upward from beneath a layer of partially digested pasta and Italian sausage – the like of which the man loved once, but may never stomach again. As daylight grew she ministered to him as he languished, shivering beneath bedsheets in the growing African heat that was nothing compared to the fever building within his twisted body. When he proved unable to hold down even water she helped him dress, and they made their way by taxi to the centre of town, to the blood lab.
He thrust their way wordlessly past the merciless street merchants hawking their wares on a Saturday morn outside the clinic entrance. Inside the technicians drew blood from his thumb; later, no malaria parasites were to be found. Crestfallen, unsure, the couple returned to their sanctuary, where sleep came in fits, interrupted by moments of liquid desperation throughout the afternoon.
By evening the fever broke; the torrents ceased, his body being emptied of its moisture. Again he tried drinking water, with success; oatcakes too stayed down, then vegetable soup. “It must have been the meat pie I bought from that street vendor,” he told her.” She advised caution, and vigilance.
They slept peacefully that night, the parasites seemingly defeated… or were they playing possum, merely biding time until his next attempt at a solid meal? (G)