Thursday, August 02, 2007

cheddar medicine

Location: Somerset, SW England
Timing: April 2007

We’ve managed to throw the cheddar medical system into quite a tizzy. It seems this may be the very first case of Malaria in this sleepy township. Maven’s got the killer headache that twice before has indicated the mosquito sickness. The local general practitioner flew into a proper panic when he heard the word. “A mistake has been made!” he proclaimed. “You should not be at a general practitioner!” Although said GP has more letters after his name than all the experts in Ghana, those doctors wouldn’t panic if a busload of heart attack victims crashed into their clinic.

After several phone calls we found a hospital that agreed to do the necessary blood-work and we’re on our way. First we had to register then wait. Then answer questions about our problem, then wait in another room. Then answer more questions about the problem, then wait. Then Maven had to lie down to answer questions about the problem and give blood. The young and serious doctor refused to crack a smile as he asked if Maven felt up to returning to the first waiting room or preferred to remain horizontal. And we waited. In fact we waited out the doctor and another was on shift by the time we gathered the courage to ask how the tests were coming. Five more minutes till they led us to another room, this one with beds, one of which was assigned to hold Maven. We waited, 4 ½ hours in all, until two men and a woman gathered 10 feet from us to discuss Maven’s case just loud enough for us to overhear bits of it. Finally Dr. Singh told us that there was no sign of malaria in the blood, and that Maven’s symptoms were not severe enough to be cerebral malaria, but since she has no fever it could be a case of undetectable malaria. He added that the hospital can’t prescribe anti-malarials based on unconfirmed suspicion – they can be prescribed only when Maven starts peeing blood. The GP, however, could have prescribed drugs, had he not panicked.

Dr. Singh told us not to worry – he comes from another country where malaria is no big deal and drugs are given over the counter. “That’s because they don’t have the diagnostic tools we have here,” he said. “So it may take 4 ½ hours instead of ½ an hour but you at least know you get the right treatment” once you pee blood. In the meantime, you take aspirin and water and sleep on your giant throbbing head.

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With respect.

Seems both you and I had a little trouble with our opening paragraphs today, in our respective blogs.
We both began with somewhat murky opening paragraphs.
Look at how you began "cheddar medicine".
Your opening paragraph seems to go in all directions and the message you convey isn't the meswssage necessarily received by the reader. The mind doesn't immediately get the references to Maven, to Ghana or the poor GP.

Your (wife's) name brings about
the word maven itself, which is another matter, so I think you should introduce her as the wife before giving her name.

Take it with a grain of salt, pal; I myself have been edited all to hell by the Star at different times, but I think I would open with:

We’d managed to throw the Cheddar medical system into quite a tizzy. It seems this may have been the very first case of Malaria in this sleepy township in Southwest England, the cheese capital of the UK. My wife had had this killer headache that twice before. It certainly indicated some form of mosquito-related sickness.
The local general practitioner flew into a proper panic when he heard the word. “A mistake has been made!” he proclaimed. “You should not have come to a General Practitioner!” But the said GP has more letters after his name than any number of experts in Ghana, another place we'd visited.Those doctors wouldn’t have panickefd if a busload of heart attack victims crashed into their clinic.

My somewhat awkward attempt at a fix, Benji, but I think you see what I'm getting at.

I didn't realize I was supposed to critique. :-( I just hope everyone comes out of this with their health intact.
Wow, that is quite the adventure.
I'm not at all surprised that this place is better known for their cheese than for their medical care.
Ivan: If you think that paragraph was confusing you haven't read my outwest journals of 2001! actually it's funny b/c i was more concerned about the second paragraph. regarding the first, i prefer my own. your version would be great if it was a newspaper article, but it's more of a travelogue and i like it loosey-goosey yet succinct. having said that, i always welcome and appreciate your thoughtful critique - it is good food for thought.

What do others think? Should this intrepid reporter take more pains for the sake of clarity? yeah, probably.

Marva: we survived, and at the risk of giving away the ending, it wasn't malaria after all.

Mytopia: I've had better ones, believe me.

Tomcat: well, I guess malaria wasn't their strong-point. To give them their due (my new favourite cliche), they didn't charge us a penny even though we were foreigners.
I don't care about skills and punctuation and clarity because I am rather free-wheeling but I was a little bit confused as a newbie. I wasn't sure what was going on but I was kind of ok with that. I dont need to know what is going on.

You could say that the confusion was deliberate as a device to convey the confusion of the situation, that you intended for the reader to experience some of the uncertainty in the narrative.

If you said all that I would think that was bad ass clever.
Did they ever find out what was wrong with Maven? Did she get better? I hope she didn't end up peeing blood.
Personally the first sentence was a distraction, maybe because of my ignorance of the towns most famous product, but after that I found no problem following the tale. I automatically assumed that Maven was your partner or you wouldn't be going to the trouble of waiting with her through out the ordeal.

Glad it wasn't malaria but now it needs a part two or you will leave your readers hanging and that would look like the opening scenes in Braveheart.



Benji, it's a good thing you were not in the US. You'd have a severe, empty pain in your wallet to this day.
lynne: oh yeah, that's totally what i was doing, being a very badass clever guy.

josie: naw, they didn't. it just went away after a few days. maybe it was just the stress of a new environment (we had only left ghana a couple days before).

TWM: it occurs to me that at the very least i could have capitalized the name of the town so that it didn't seem like an adjective. anyway, lol on braveheart. more tales from england to come.

Tomcat: we did have travel health insurance, but even that probably wouldn't have saved us down south.
Malaria? Dude! And your writing kicks ass by the way.
What a coincidence. We just had to prepare Malaria slides the other night. It happens so seldom that no-one remembered how to do it. We had to send them out to be looked at but we kept one and stained it. You could see the parasites on the blood cell. So, anyway.....this is like sycnchronicity. Do you realize that you could have been posting this at the very moment I was preparing my slides? do you think that this could mean something? Behind Blue Eyes
Oh, and I just noticed that there were responses to my comment on your last post. I didn't go back and read until just now, other wise I would have commented. I'm democrat, I just can't like the republicans. The Democrats seem to care more about regular people than the republicans do. George Bush would look at me and think.....maid probably. When I said that the Dems didn't have any good issues I was talking about the way that they campaign, not about their beliefs.

I do think that Americans in general are anti-intellectual. Of course, there are very smart people here naturally, but the general population is anti-intellectual. They actually find it suspect. I.e. Adlai Stephens was a great presidential candidate and they said that the reason he didn't get elected was that people didn't trust him because they percieved him as an intellectual....the word they used was egg-head. But conversely, some great ideas come out of here as well.

And Benji, The liberals were in control here in the 60's and 70's and made so many great changes and the backlash has never ended. If you are a Liberal and you want to get elected you have to pretend that you aren't. Sad isn't it. All the money that we are spending on this war and all the kids here without health insurance. Just pathetic. Do you know that George Bush refused to grant the states more money for healthcare for the uninsured.

We live in a country where people think that Bill Clintons Blow Job from Monica Lewinsky is more morally wrong than a kid suffering from lack of medical care.

Behind Blue Eyes
In Sweden, the doc. will not even reach you the hand at the door in fear of catching something... fyi... :)
I'm not clever or qualified enough to give critique on your work other than to say as a reader, I enjoyed this very much. I feel you have an easy style to read, fluid and engaging.

omg... what country does Mr Singh come from. Not India for sure... maybe malarialand?
Was this before or after I saw you?
EOTR: one thing i learned in ghana is that malaria's not always as bad as we tend to think in northern countries. it sucks, but ghanaian adults have all had it at some point, and all have enough resistance to it that it's not a huge deal. often we would see a friend who seemed tired and ask, 'you okay?' 'yeah, it's just the malaria,' the friend would answer. the worst is when it hits children, who have yet to build a resistance to it. especially village children who can't afford treatment. if rich countries really wanted to help reduce child mortality in africa, they'd give money to malarial treatment and stop farting around with genetically modified mosquitos and other mad science. and, thanks for the writing compliment.
BBE: it means that The Police (music band, not boys in blue) had it right about synchronicity. And I think we're also on the same page about American politics. From politicians in general, I just want more open honesty. Twisted as the Republican logic is, at least they're fairly straight up about their beliefs. Most of the time I can't tell what Democrat politicians stand for. In Canada I can no longer tell what any politician anywhere on the spectrum stands for. But I think in reality more people's values lean left than right, so why are the Dems so afraid of talking values?

HOD: Damn, I'm glad we weren't in Sweden then.

Miss Smack: I appreciate that, but I also happen to think that you are most clever.

Crashie: actually he's from India. But they do have malaria there.

UTMG: Hmm, good question. I think it was after because I remember he being in fine form that evening.
ps to HOD: I like your new avatar.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I recall her being quite spritely and full of interesting stories - not in the slightest bit Malarial.

Is that a word?

The time-frame of illness was the only element of confusion in this post for me.
Malarial is most definitely a word. A big one. But not as big as elementary. or unitarianism. or superfluidity. is superfluidity a word?
Superfluidity is a word.

It's a robot soap opera on the Reman Funk Channel.
Well thankyou!
Berk: I hate that channel.

Smack: your welcome.
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