Being African (part 2) – Having Malaria in the US


In my last post, I talked about my having malaria in the US during my early days over here. What made this experience unique was my naïvety about the US medical system.

I felt the usual malaria symptoms, so I decided to pay a visit to my school’s medical center. After a couple of minutes, the doctor came out and invited me into her office. On getting in, I explained my symptoms. I told her I had Malaria (to which she gave me this deer in the headlights look which was all too familiar when talking to folks who have no idea of what you are saying). All I wanted to say was, “Could you give me pills to help with the feverish aches”. At the end of my “speech”, she told me she was referring me to a specialist in tropical medicine. WTF! All I wanted was something akin to Tylenol to solve my problem, instead she was routing me to someone else.

To put things in perspective, I came from a place where self-medication was second nature especially when it involves certain tropical ailments. A typical case of self-medication plays out thus: You feel sick, you think it’s a certain ailment because since birth, you’ve had such ailment befall you, you go to the nearest dispensary and ask for a drug that solves your problem, you buy it, you self-medicate as specified and voilà.

As I walked out of the doctor’s office, I was furious. I had no time for setting up appointments with obscure “specialists” for a typical malaria illness. I had to call my parents all the way back home to send me my specific pills that were needed to solve my problem. My package arrived two days later. Problem solved.

Funny thing – the package’s shipping cost was double the cost of the pills.


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