By: Bill Heick on December 27th, 2015
One of the scourges of the tropical third world, malaria is not something to be taken lightly. Rampant through much of Indo, especially Lombok, this mosquito borne parasite invades your bloodstream, literally eating your red blood cells until either your immune system overcomes it or it overcomes you. In this case an ill advised night drive from Lembar Harbor to Labuan Lombok to meet our boat Sri Gaya Baru. Spending the last few hours of night on the boat a heaviness hung in the air. The following morning we cruised across the channel to Malok, Sumbawa.
After a few days of minimal swell we pulled anchor and cruised back along the south coast of Lombok to Desert Pt. Another day or two and the swell hit, as did the fever. Nelson had just gotten over the flu so we weren’t too concerned. The first stages of malaria are not too bad: fever, headaches, weakness. Give it a few more days and things get exponentially worse. As the plasmodium parasites wipe out your red blood cells, the spiking fevers and headaches are extreme. In and out of consciousness time slows way down, minutes seem like hours. Late at night the sound of the rigging in the wind is an Indo death march. On and on and on and on. The surf is really good now; no one wants to leave. Finally when the swell drops, it’s back to Bali to find a doctor, but end up with a misdiagnosis, the life force is slipping away.
After eight days of living hell, Peter got me on a flight to Singapore, and I was wheeled into the American Hospital of Singapore. Diagnosed with the often fatal falciparum strain, the doctor, a tropical disease specialist from Boston , stated “the drugs we’re going to have to give you might kill you, the malaria WILL kill you, probably within a day or two”. I took option one and the ten day chemo was gnarly, but I lived to surf Deserts again.
Many of the Desert Pt. Regulars got it over the years, including Pablo, Chris, Nick S., and Kiwi Greeny who spent months in a coma with cerebral malaria….Luckily none of us died there.