Wednesday, 2 June 2010

In Kenya, football on TV is surprisingly expensive...

"Interesting" day today! One of the kids yesterday was diagnosed with an infection, after being ill on and off for a fortnight. I have had some fever for a couple of days, and felt quite weak and odd this morning, so decided to visit the doctor rather than wait that long.

After giving a blood test, I sat down. Then noticed some football highlights on the television. We have no television, so this is rather rare (first time for 5 months?) - I thought I'd take a peak. Quite an expensive and time-consuming mistake.

Problem was, I couldn't really see from my seat, so I stood up. And fainted. Upon this, the doctor insisted on admitting me and running a number of tests that kept me in all day to rule out any serious cause for my fainting. (The non-serious cause being that it was a reaction to having a needle stuck in me - I've fainted twice (three times?) before after needles, though not for about a decade). One moment I was admiring an exquisite chip over the keeper before I staggered to a chair and told the nurse who enquired if I was well "perhaps I should lie down"; the next, four men were carrying me down the corridor. That was quite confusing.

The real moment of horror was when the nurse entered my room, with... an anti-malaria injection, and a saline drip. Oh no. (In the UK if someone brought out the saline drip you'd think you must be at death's door. In Kenya they are a lot more likely to just give you something because, well, why not?).

I now had visions of being kept in the hospital for a month. Two more needles at once - only a couple of hours after fainting! Woe is me, I am doomed!

Happily, I remembered I wasn't (this bit is sometimes hard to recall) in the asylum just yet, and probably I would not be strait-jacketed if I refused to take them. Which I did.

Mercifully when the doctor returned from lunch (3.30?) he did not insist on the drip, and allowed me to have pills for malaria instead.

By the way, the blood test for malaria was negative - but it's not infallible.

In Kenya they're not as worried about being sued as they are in the UK. Hence you don't need to raise more than one eyebrow when you hear the people operating the ECG machine asking where the manual is, and how to fix it. After the scan, as well as before.

Before the blood test I sat next to a man whose sweat-shirt said "East Anglia", so I told him I grew up there. Once I came round, I found he had decided to take care of me until my wife arrived. It turned out he was a Christian, and he prayed very sweetly. It was touching to be the helpless white man receiving blessing from the African - probably an experience I need more. He was being tested for cholesterol, because he suspected it was high. He told me his result, 201, saying that a normal range was 200-240, and therefore he needed to make sure he exercised. I was confused by that too.

After 2 1/2 years, I still have not adapted psychologically to the fact that Kenyans are not, like Westerners, generally reluctant to talk about spiritual issues. Seeing my Bible (which I was reading whilst waiting), someone in accounts said I should come one day to preach the gospel to them. This is not unremarkable, but still takes me by surprise. (And - which is also a contrast with the UK - it doesn't mean they meant it).

My blood pressure was 110/70, and I'll have to Google to find out what that means (apparently, I am normal). But again, given that the operator say "this equipment does not work", it may not need taking too seriously... perhaps he meant something else?

"Please stand on these scales". 49 kilogrammes! Zikes - I must be dying! "It's 50kg - and we add 6kg to the figure, so 56kg". After getting off the scales, I saw that at rest the reading is 3kg. In other words, I moved it by 46kg. Go figure. My wife says they did not add anything yesterday when weighing our child. Next time I am in town, I'll have to pay 5 shillings to get a reading from the street hawkers with their scales, to find out what the reality is. Having said that, though, I'm now acclimatised to how well people know their dodgy machines.... very likely it really is 56kg (8 stone 11).

The doctor had been threatening to keep me in until past 7pm, but thankfully had mercy about 5 and let me go!

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