[Update (6th April 2010): The diagnosis was eventually confirmed as Blackwater Fever and Huw’s recovering in the Yorkshire Dales, doing well.]
When we said we were going to take some time away from the blog, we didn’t plan to take seven weeks away – sorry about that. But then we didn’t plan to get quite so ill and get evacuated first from Liberia and then from Ghana. I’m going to write the long version when things have calmed down a bit but, for now, here’s the short version:
We got stuck in Freetown for far too long, got moving, got a few kilometres before Huw’s bike spontaneously imploded, got moving again, got blown away (in a good way) by Sierra Leone and (in a bad way) by its poverty, got close to nature (primates and green mambas, most memorably), got to Liberia and, on New Year’s Eve, got engaged (in a brothel).
A couple of days later, we got malaria and / or E Coli, depending on which hospital tests you believe. I mended very quickly but Huw deteriorated and developed jaundice, among other things. With our (excellent) insurance company (and us) worried about organ damage and the quality of medical care in Liberia, we were evacuated from Liberia to Ghana by air ambulance. At excellent hospitals in Ghana, Huw got a bit better and then a lot worse, suffering acute renal failure (the doctors suspected Black Water Fever, a (rare, nowadays) complication of falciparum malaria that can be triggered by quinine). After two days of dialysis in Ghana, we were evacuated by air ambulance to the UK last Thursday.
Huw’s now doing well in hospital in London and, while the doctors are very excited about all sorts of rare tropical diseases, they say the chances are we’ll now never know what he had – although they have ruled out a few of the nastier possibilities. Whatever it was has cleared up so now we’re just crossing fingers and toes that his kidneys start working properly soon – the signs are encouraging and getting better by the day.
Neither of us has the headspace at the moment to think about what happens next; for now, we””re just focusing on Huw getting better. Whatever we decide after that, we’ll let you know – but we’ll certainly be spending at least a couple of months here in the UK.
While Huw’s recovering, I’ll slowly be writing a few blogs about the last couple of months, adding a few galleries and posting some sound recordings from Sierra Leone (primates, mostly). Once those are up, you might find yourselves Listening to London for a while instead of Africa…
For the time being, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone sending us good wishes – and especially to Renee (in the US), Ralph (in Liberia) and Dean (in Liberia) for all their help. And to these people and these people.
We’ve had a pretty scary time but, that said, we’re very aware of how privileged we’ve been in all this compared to, say, the majority of Liberians, who have no choice but to muddle through with the country’s abject lack of medical staff and facilities. (In both Sierra Leone and Liberia, we learned that civil wars keep killing people long after the fighting is over, but that’s another story.)
In the meantime, here’s to a slightly less eventful rest of 2010, wherever it takes us!