And then I fell ill…Terribly ill…

Falling ill anywhere is fraught with many ifs (if only I did this), buts (but I should have done this to avoid) and why (why do I have to get ill at this moment).

In my neck of the neighbourhood, the tropics, getting ill happens pretty fast and if you are not careful you end up dead in the process.

I got ill from malaria. And as I have been abroad from Uganda for a very long time I didn’t have any malaria anti-bodies left in my system. The malaria happened quick and I found myself admitted in hospital with Blackwater fever.

According to encyclopedia Britannica:

Blackwater fever, also called malarial hemoglobinuria , one of the less common yet most dangerous complications of malaria. It occurs almost exclusively with infection from the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Blackwater fever has a high mortality. Its symptoms include a rapid pulse, high fever and chills, extreme prostration, a rapidly developing anemia, and the passage of urine that is black or dark red in colour (hence the disease’s name). The distinctive colour of the urine is due to the presence of large amounts of hemoglobin, released during the extensive destruction of the patient’s red blood cells by malarial parasites. Patients frequently develop anemia because of the low numbers of red blood cells.


Micrograph of blood cells showing ring-forms (circular organisms within the cells) and gametocytes …
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Image Numer: 5856)



The speed at which malaria turned into Blackwater fever took 5 days. End result was that my kidneys stopped functioning as normal hence being admitted to hospital. My doctor tells me that by the time I was admitted my kidney was functioning at 5%. His aim was to make sure that it goes back to 100%.

From May 15th 2017, I started a regimen of going for dialysis twice a week. I achieved the 100% kidney function after 12 sessions of dialysis. The 9 sessions I took as an outpatient. All in all I spent 9 days at the hospital as an in-patient. Most of the time was spent on bed rest. Part of the regimen of getting well meant following a strict dietary regime. Taking foods without potassium, like bananas(plantation, Matooke, in the local language is a staple food here), all fruits, greens with the exception of cabbages and eating boiled food without any spices most especially the White meats and fish.

Dialysis Machine

Dialysis Machine

The healthcare system in Uganda is expensive. Most especially if you are like me who has no medical insurance. I had to use each coin that I came with to get better. As they say, it is at such times, that you really like the aspect of the disparity in foreign exchange from the foreign currency vis a vie the Ugandan shilling.

When I first arrived in the country I bought the anti-malaria drug Mephaquin. I took anti-malaria tablets for a month because this is what I normally take when I visit home. I have been reliably informed that I should have taken it for 3 months as my stay in Uganda was for a year and longer.

This being the rainy season and the mosquitoes that spread the malaria, thrive in such wet conditions, are plenty. I now have to take the mephaquin (anti-malaria tablets) for three months so that I can build up my anti-bodies. Yes I do sleep under a mosquito net, but the mosquitos bite a non suspecting person in places like the sitting room or dinning room were we can’t have mosquito nets.

I have great admiration for the doctors, nurses, the non-medical hospital staff. They do their utmost to make sure that our stay is as comfortable as can be because chances are that one will never make it out alive.


As an inpatient being wheeled from my Ward to the Dialysis Ward at the hospital

As a person that has suffered kidney disease a number of things happened to me.

  1. Fatigue. The aspect of getting tired easily happens because of lack of oxygen. As the malaria attacks the red blood cells, this effects the haemoglobin.
  2. Muscle fatigue. This happens in the form of cramps; it tends to occur as you stretch your muscles.
  3.  In my case my bones got weak. After my dialysis treatment I resorted to taking Osteocare to help me with my born structure
  4.  I need to drink a lot of water to help wash out the excess impurities that the kidney couldn’t work on when I was ill.
  5. Walking became a problem. I had to have support either by wheel chair or another person helping me as I walked.
  6. Huge body. As the kidney was working at 5% the excess liquids and urea,I gained 20 kilos because of the fluids in my body had to be retained somewhere. Thanks to dialysis this brought my normal weight and body back to my normal self.
  7.  Bed rest. As the red blood cells are attacked by the malaria. This is what leads to the aspect of malaria making people anaemic. Malaria anaemia happens and this leads to making a person constantly sleepy. This happened to me a lot.
  8. I didn’t take any medicines when I was on the dialysis treatment. What I was advised to do was to take a lot of liquids and stick to a diet regimen set for me. This worked a lot.

Now that I am off the dialysis treatment I am getting back to everything gradually this is from the food I eat right upto the exercising I do.

What did I learn in this process?

  1. Family is extremely important to me because I had to lean on them for support. This is from my cousins to my siblings and mother.
  2. The power of prayer. I had loads of friends from all over the world, cousins, brothers, mother, mother’s church, all praying for me. It was touch and go at one time and the Doctor did say it must have been prayer that brought you back to us. Thats profound right there.
  3. Gratitude. Being grateful. Saying thank you and please went a long way for me at the hospital, from the nurses right to the security guards.

Isn’t life amazing? Falling ill anywhere is fraught with many ifs (if only I did this), buts (but I should have done this to avoid) and why (why do I have to get ill at this moment).