Off the beach, through the village and beyond, following a map drawn my the kind pharmacist. Over make shift bridges, past pigs and boys with sparkling ear rings. Perfectly tendered agriculture – tiny strips photosynthesizing in the mid afternoon light, by the sides of wooden homes, houses, ,shacks, below the concrete road. Uphill the Myanmar flag blowing proudly in the distance. A trotting lady heading to Buddha with flowers, the offer of a beer and tens of projected smiles. Min Gala Ba.Up hill, flag bound passing locals in wicker head wear, one walking, looking in such pain – perhaps post operative? The maps correct arrows followed and we arrive, me clutching my needle and fluid ready for my shot. Its been a long three months without it.
A hospital of some size, plonked in the middle of a field. No front doors as i head in and sit in the waiting room. I ask for a doctor. No uniforms, no identification badges, just people i assume to be medical professionals due to their geographical location. I look around.
Doors leading off the central space – Nurse, X-ray, Theater, Treatment. One lady living in the darkness connected to a drip. Her image in color but almost black and white. Another lady back in the reception area with her right eye half way down her face, in the middle of her cheek, but still so very beautiful. Tall and elegant in her glorious poise, clutching her baby, there for whatever reason.
A nurse? fills the syringe and hands it to a doctor? I am led to a bed in a small dark room feeling very un-nervous, due to the overall feeling of calm. A space which almost brings me to tears. What do people do here when they have cancer, road accidents, HIV?
No sirens, no ambulances, no clashing of trolley’s and no nurses with fat calf’s. A quite hospital with a sensation of rest, calm and peace but also a sense of limitation.
I sit on the bed, he points to an arm and i choose one. He grins, raises up the shot and he inserts. I always feel the fluid going straight into the muscle, pushing its way in. He withdraws, pushes on cotton wool and we smile. Done for another twelve weeks. I look to the floor splattered with blood or pan or blood? “Thank you so much”, i say, “Chezubeh”. I rise and walk into what i assume to be an office and ask how much. He points to a donation box. I insert four days wages in return for him inserting the fluid i was craving.
Again i thank all and head back through the field, down the concrete road past the proud flying flag. Past the lady in the bed, the mother and her child, past the pigs, over the make shift bridges. Past the boys with the sparkling ear rings and through the village, back toward my little room, amongst space, overlooking the sea on the beach.
During my packathon yesterday i came across an old diary from 2006. Words written in England following time in India….
” I am having difficulty writing due to the plastic bands around my wrist, however i am desperate to get something down on paper and start a new book. Another story for my growing collection.
Guess i have been infested for some time. Its bank holiday Monday as i sit wondering if my sleeping pill will be delivered; my mint starchy pajamas have, size large. From a friend’s birthday hootenanny via a gig in an old ship yard, to Newcastle General Hospital. Dr. Price wants six samples of blood to send to Dr. Bailey in Liverpool. It’s awkward having a nocturnal parasite.
Its 11:48pm on the 27/4/2006, and i have just trotted down to the ward HQ to ask to see my medical file. I am asked to sign something first but now have access. The file explains what i already know; that i have proteins in my system called Filariasis – they just can’t seem to find the babies at this point. Tonight’s bloods will be sent straight to Liverpool Tropical Diseases Hospital as they apparently have more sophisticated methods of screening. Sometimes i think the doctors are taking things seriously and others not. I feel like i am waiting for something to happen. If the babies aren’t found again is that a good or a bad thing? Does it mean i have a light or heavy parasitic infestation? Am i going to grow giant legs and balls? Will i need pressure bandages to relive my future pain or will it all be OK? I would just love an answer. I want Dr. Price to say, ” This is your condition and this is your treatment”
This is a strange tropical illness which i have contracted from my sanctuary, my other life, my existence in the jungle, which i love and miss dearly. In Gokarn this is an everyday problem. I became aware of it by seeing posters written in Kannada and started asking questions. We joked and laughed about the physical implications but i never imagined i would be sitting here, with big balls, clad in mint starchy oversized pajamas. I feel India is inside of me and i will accept the outcome whatever. You can never erase time and the unexpected complications it can cause in the future. I hear a trolley and foot steps…time for the blood to come and go…with hopefully the worms! Soon i well get a answer “.