Saturday, January 24, 2009

On Side-effects and Vivid Dreams

This is the last night of my 3-day treatment on Malaria, and I'm still a bit of unsure whether I have one in the first place. My lab test result, afterall, yielded negative infection from any of the Plasmodium parasites but the doctor prescribed the treatment nevertheless. Tomorrow I will be starting the prophylaxis; the one thing I should have done before coming here. It would be a weekly regimen; a regimen also shared by soldiers on a mission and peace corps. I have been sifting through the internet on some experiences when one is taking antimalarial and there is one thing in common: side-effects. Well I guess most of the modern world medications have side-effects. I remember this joke of a salesman who offered a man a drug to relieve the latter's headache but the salesman warned that it has a side-effect in which it will be relieved by another drug yet with a side-effect of its own. The story goes on with drugs and their side-effects only to find out that the last drug offered has headache as the side-effect. Funny because one of Malaria's symptoms is headache and so as one of Coartem's side-effects. Now I can't tell which is which. Interestingly one of antimalarial side-effects is vivid dreams. I thought it's a Neverland-Care Bears sort of thing but apparently it is a euphemism to nightmares. As per my research, it is exclusively valid to antimalarial with Mefloquine as the base drug (i.e. Lariam; Roche don't sue me, this is a personal blog). So I frantically drew the one I have. Pyrimethamine. Ok, the only side-effect I have to worry now is being folic acid deficient. But then, last night I had this "vivid dream".

There was this one "crazy" black dog that used to be part of my childhood phobia. I well remember her name, Blanka. She was one of our neighbor's dogs and it was a great effort everytime I have to bring a share of our media noche to their house. I would call out my kababata to escort me inside their house; it would be rude if I don't personally give the food and of course it's a tradition for them to give something in return. I don't know where it all started but I remember her to be the one who rallied up all the dogs in the subdivision to madly chase me to exhaustion; virtually strapping me to a coconut tree. Imagine the humiliation and trauma of a seven-year-old. I used to believe that she was the leader of the dog mafia in our subdivision back then so in order to save my bones, I have to avoid her. And believe me, during that time I could recognize her bark anywhere. She died when I was in high school. Poor creature but I thought it saved my adolescent years. But then last night she was reincarnated: same black hair, menacing eyes and those canine fangs! Weird enough, I was back to the same street of that fateful day. Everything was fast. One second she was on the far-side of the street, the next she was right in front of me. And she bit my left hand! I awoke. I don't know if I gave a loud cry but one thing I did was to check my left hand if it was still there. I felt the bite as if it was real; as if it was torn away from the rest of my arm. How vivid can you get with that? Maybe it was just a coincidence that I got that nightmare. I'm not taking Mefloquine and I checked the ones I'm taking and they definitely don't have vivid dreams as part of the undesirable list.

I don't know what I'll be getting tonight but I hope it has nothing to do with leeches!


I came across this short film on

After years of yearning to go to Africa, Joan’s three-month stint as a Peace Corps volunteer turns sour on Christmas Eve when she is 'psychevac'd' back to the states and admitted to Georgetown Hospital mental ward. The drug required by the Peace Corps to be taken as a protection against malaria is said to cause only vivid dreams, but no one mentions the other side effects of psychotic tendencies, including suicide and murder.

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana

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