Cranky Fat Feminist Speaks

liberal feminist from the south who ran away to college in the mid-west, and quickly retreated back after my four years were up. trying to save the world one picture book at a time; attempting to live healthier to lose weight, but without giving up beer. challenging the idea that “big is beautiful” as well as what I’ve learned and experienced about women, gender, and feminism from my time in college as well as my time in West Africa. pissed about the apathy of the world, ready to create change one mind at a time.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

[cranky] ebola, and why scared US residents need to get over themselves

When I woke up a week ago over a third of the stories on CNN's mobile news app were about Ebola. I've been following this outbreak since April, because I studied abroad in West Africa and have friends there. I also contracted Typhoid Fever while I was there, despite getting my mandatory vaccine. The people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and now some in Nigeria (the country to do business in) who have come forward for Ebola treatment usually know how they got sick -- lack of safe water, or caring for a sick family member. I got sick from a lack of safe drinking and cooking water. Adding to the ease of which it can be contracted is the severe lack of flushing toilets. Without running water infected feces are not safely disposed of. When toilet paper is a luxury you clean yourself with your left hand, and hope there is some wash water nearby.

Ebola, like Typhoid and Malaria (from mosquitoes), can take up to three weeks to present any symptoms. The early symptoms are also consistent with Meningitis and the plague. (yes, THE plague) When I got sick, I had been sad for two or three days -- supposedly letting my immune system down -- but went to bed feeling fine. In the dead middle of the breeze-less night I woke up drenched in sweat with a migraine, and every muscle and joint in my body aching beyond what I knew was humanly possible. I managed to find my flashlight (we didn't have electricity then, a recent heavy rain had knocked us off grid for the last few days) and I found my class notes in a stack on the floor. "Day 1: visit from a doctor to talk about Malaria, Typhoid, Cholera. Symptoms of Malaria and Typhoid are identical: worst flu of your life. Stay hydrated, wash hands often, go to hospital ASAP." I took my temperature, and dry swallowed Advil since I was out of water, and collapsed my fevered body back into the bed.

I alternated which side of the double bed I laid on -- I would drench one side and then roll over and have the chills on the dry side until I sweated through the sheets, and rolled back over to the mostly dried out side. At sun up I called my translator and told him that I thought I had Malaria and needed his help. When he finally arrived about 3 hours later (he could have walked over in ten minutes) he was entirely unconcerned. He went out and bought me drinking water, and when I asked if he had ever had Malaria he said "I don't know." Apparently whenever he's had symptoms he "goes into the bush to collect the herb to fix it." I remember begging him to go get this herb for me, because it was Sunday, the power had been out for at least three days, and no pharmacies were open nearby.