“It’s just macho bullsh*t”

So, had the last of my Hep B injections and purchased a year’s supply of antimalarials  today. Doxycycline. £64. Apparently these are the ‘good’ kind; I won’t arrive in Tanzania hallucinating and confused with feelings of persecution (?!), but it will make me sensitive to sunlight… Mmh, I’m going to a country, nay a continent, which www.weatheronline.co.uk shows that, today, the majority of it has a sunshine duration of 80%, and I’ll have the complexion of Nosferatu? In some respects this may not be a problem – by all accounts I’ll be conservatively dressed. It appears that the 30% Christian, 35% Muslim and 35% indigenous beliefs population can all agree on the heresy of women’s knees and shoulders. But still, a sensitivity to sunlight? In Africa? I decide to discuss the necessity of taking the tablets with the doctor. This did not go well…

Sales technique at the travel clinic…

To set the scene, I’ll draw for you a word picture of the clinic – a one word picture; scary. It’s subterranean (also see synonyms covert and subversive). The colour scheme is blue and grey and the decor minimalist,  making you think of pain, asylums and how much this is going to cost you. As you sit in the waiting room you are confronted with a corridor of glass offices with the doors and windows frosted, so all you can see are shadowy shapes moving behind them and as you sit there a flight of fancy makes you certain you heard a scream. So strong is the sense of foreboding that a friend who came with me the first time, later confessed she’d tottered along the hallway I’d disappeared down, overcome by the sense that I wasn’t coming back. Nor it would seem is this ill-feeling misplaced as the Doctor sitting opposite me was aptly named Sweeney.

And so to the malaria issue. ‘Do I really need to take the tablets?’, I asked. ‘Isn’t it bad for my health to take antibiotics for that length of time?’. And finally, I told him that I was reliably informed by people already living there that I only really needed to take them for 3 months if at all and then should follow their precautions, and they didn’t even give them to their children! He sat impassively through this little diatribe, staring at his computer……………….. and then he exploded. “That is just macho bullshit! I hear this all the time and it’s fucking ridiculous!”

sensitive creature that I am, I immediately decided he’d used the ‘M’ word because I was wearing my cap and was dressed for boxing, so surreptitiously raised my brim a little so he could see my (feminine) eyelashes. Turns out he was just VERY passionate about malaria. He then regaled me with every type of malaria I’d be exposed to (yes, malaria has types including one peculiar to Tanzania that stays with you for life), manner of potential death, and then vehemently asserted that if I chose not to take the tablets, I would definitely become infected…

So there you have it. Impending death being a fairly persuasive sales tactic I have now ticked another item off my list – medication that will prevent me from seizures, kidney failure, mental confusion (if only!) and eventual coma…but will give me the skin of a piglet. Marvellous.

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