I was having lunch with a friend in when I began to feel unwell. My head ached terribly, I was unbearably hot one minute then shivering the next, my skin felt prickly. It felt like a really bad dose of the flu and I joked with her that I hoped I didn’t have malaria.
Ten days earlier I’d returned from a trip to Malawi where I’d spent Christmas break with my husband who was researching his PhD out there. We’d enjoyed a brilliant time but by this point, I couldn’t remember ever feeling worse. The next night I woke up at 4am to find my bed sheets soaked in sweat, my temperature had shot up to 40 degrees and I knew then that it really was malaria. I was suddenly very scared.
my temperature had shot up to 40 degrees and I knew then that it really was malaria
It was a long wait until my GP’s surgery opened that morning, and when I called to explain where I’d been, along with my symptoms and to ask for a malaria test, they said they couldn’t see me until the following day. Thankfully, I was staying with my parents and, not knowing what else to do, Dad rushed me to A&E. A blood sample was taken, and after a long wait, the results came back positive for malaria falciparum – the most deadly strain.
By now I was very ill, and drifting in and out of consciousness. I honestly thought my number was up as nobody in the hospital had seen a case of malaria before. An infectious disease specialist was called and things then began to move quickly – another 24 hours and it might have been too late. I was admitted to an isolation ward and treated with intravenous quinine for the next week. I didn’t react well to it – it made me very sick and gave me tinnitus, so I was deaf the whole time. I stayed in hospital for ten days, and couldn’t return to work for two months.
During my time in Malawi, I’d taken doxycycline, used mosquito spray and slept under a net – so I was clearly incredibly unlucky. Thankfully I’m well again now and even completed a 10k race for Malaria No More UK in Glasgow on 13 May raising £700! My advice to others is to make sure you are protected before you travel and if you do feel ill, be persistent, and don’t delay in getting yourself seen to.
- Get Involved in the fight against malaria
- Help make malaria no more – make a donation
- Share your own experience of malaria