H o m m a g e :


Carine Koehler Quant

Une Veveysanne de 32 ans a succombé le 20 février 2005 à un accès de paludisme cérébral foudroyant lors d’un voyage avec son mari au Malawi.
Afin que sa disparition ne reste pas vaine, sa famille endeuillée choisit de s’engager dans la lutte contre ce fléau qui décime 3000 enfants par jour en Afrique.


Carine Koehler Quant, quelques semaines avant de succomber des suites du paludisme
http://www.associationcarine.org (association à présent dissoute)

Témoignage boulversant de son mari, Murray :

I wrote this story  to try and help me and the others close to Carine deal with her death....

Carine's Last Story

On Sunday the 20th Feb 2005 at 7.30 pm, in a filthy, overcrowded, understaffed hospital, with supplies of medical drugs and equipment exhausted, besieged by a local epidemic of Malaria, Carine Koehler Quant, my Princess, an extremely loved daughter, sister & friend to many, lost her life to one of Africa's biggest killers…Cerebral Malaria.

On that day 3000 other Africans joined her… Mostly children .

And every day since then in Africa & around the world people die from this disease (and many others), and will continue to do so without our help.

Malaria is the one problem the international aid agencies, scientists and medical experts who helped to establish the U.N and W.H.O goals to be met by 2010 believe that with the correct attack this big problem can be controlled to a manageable level allowing community health levels to rise and to then reap the benefits of this… of which they are almost immeasurable to Africa.

With HIV AIDS, wiping out the middle ages of the community, leaving behind the elderly and the young…

It’s here that a great problem lies.

It’s the children that face the toughest fight to survive as they have no immunity to the disease as their young bodies have not had the time to build up the strength needed to fight thru Malaria. As they get older and have survived a few times Malaria (luckily), the locals build a mild resistance to Malaria. This by no way means they are safe, not for a single minute.

It’s the children that are the future of Africa & the rest of the world.

Carine being a westerner and never before having exposure to this disease, reacted like a 5 year old African child does to Malaria, I , her devoted husband, partner for life & great friend witnessed her life being taken so easily.

It was an incredibly horrifying situation.

Carine was in the prime of her life doing the thing she loved most, to travel and meet with new people and cultures and doing this with the man she adored. To say the least we were in paradise…

Carine was 32 years old.

A lover of life and all its possibilities. A compassionate lady showing the true spirit of human kindness and love for all who grace this planet. She cried for the injustices happening around us all and wished only good things to those in need of help… Especially the children and animals who have no say in what happens to them. Carine's love of Africa was growing and we were looking to involve ourselves in its development further…

This was our 2nd time in Africa. Carine spent 12 months travelling & I 12 months working in 2000. It was in Africa on an island paradise on the upper Zambezi river near Livingstone Zambia - near Victoria Falls, that we met and fell in love. Embarking on a journey thru life together that would come full circle, leading us back to Africa.

With that we departed Switzerland on our eagerly awaited trip, excited as to what we would find together… 6 months discovering Africa and its people.

We landed in Johannesburg South Africa Nov 11 and spent the next few days sorting out our medical supplies, buying a few extra things, enjoying restaurants and generally start making a plan, as we had not yet decided where we were going exactly, we knew the countries that interested us but were leaving things to unfold in front of us, as Africa has a tendency to change at any minute.

We headed south to Lesotho for 7 days or so, a mountain kingdom in Central South Africa with friendly people and awesome scenic beauty. We enjoyed walks and waterfalls and settling into our home for the next 6 months, our tent. We had a few great mountain storms to test its water proofness and wind, well that got tested in the Swiss Alps before we left and passed with flying colors. It’s worth spending money on quality equipment. We left Lesotho in search of a dentist back in S.A as I had a tooth ache which needed attention; I got some temporary work done hoping to get thru the next 5 1/2 months. Then to "Rustlers Valley" back in S.A for 5 days, this place is well known for the great music festivals they hold. Now they are moving into helping the locals and others by providing knowledge about Medicinal Herbs and Permaculture, cool people and spot.

Now with summer coming and the heat rising, the craving for the coast ,seafood, salt water & sand overwhelmed us and we headed to the coast. Durban. We stayed out at the Bluff to enjoy the surf beaches and to have close access to the city to try some of Durban's famous Indian food. We moved north up the coast stopping off at different places enjoying the beaches and St Lucia Wetlands World Heritage area. This area is protected and is just a wonder of natural beauty and wildlife, it must go high on anyone's list of places to see in S.A. Had a close call with 3 leopards while lost in a private game reserve in St Lucia… Never get out of the car in a game park, not even for a quick piss and stretch, it could be your last. If Carine had of gone behind the first bush she chose behind the car and not the one in front where she came scrambling from when I yelled to her to get back to the car after spotting them, she would have been right in their path, she would have stood no chance to out run those cats. With us now safe inside the car the show began. We watched as they lay down on the dirt road in the late afternoon sun and enjoy a rest, right in front of us. Luck shined on us that day.

Then with Christmas coming on we moved into Swaziland to get out of the way of the mad rush to the coast by the S.A holiday makers.

The change of atmosphere going from South Africa into Swaziland is just incredible. From high tension between white and black and Indian to one completely opposite. So opposite that it's truly unbelievable, that Swaziland, which is completely surrounded by S.A didn't suffer the same problems of racial hatred and discrimination.

One other thing that had also now changed. We were now in the 'Malaria Zone'.

Except for St Lucia and some parts of the upper north east coast and northern regions, S.A is malaria free.

With the wet season approaching the danger increases of malaria and it now became very important to cover up and sleep under nets or make sure that the tent is clear of mosquitoes before sleeping. I now became the hunter and would not rest until the tent was clear, Carine would not take it as seriously as me sometimes calling me paranoid, leaving me to finish the hunt. With only torch light to go by it could take 20 minutes or more to kill them all.

We loved Swaziland so much, we hung out for 30 days (average tourist stays 1.5 days, they have no idea what they are missing), stayed in villages made of grass, swam in rivers and under waterfalls, ate wonderful food with friendly people, went to the kings Inkwala ceremony which is the biggest traditional ceremony still preformed in Africa today. Celebrated our 1 yr of being married with a night out to the best restaurant in Mbabane the capital of Swaziland. With a French cook providing magnificent food and when the management found out that we were celebrating well the champagne flowed freely, finally we paid nothing as they offered the night to us. We meet up with Tembo, a river guide I worked with in 2000 and friend from Zambia for Christmas dinner, yes he managed to eat more than his fair share of the Christmas dinner and beers leaving some of us hungry, I should have remembered, when Tembo cooks not as much makes the table as we started cooking with and his plate is always the fullest. :-) We had a nice time and it's great to see hard working Africans reaping the rewards for their efforts. We had one of our best New Years ever at the 'House Of Fire' an awesome entertainment venue with multiple stage and dance floors and chill out areas on platforms set up in the trees and smoked the best in Africa . We fell in love with the grass weaving of the region and spent many days looking thru markets at the different styles and colors and prices. We started looking at exporting it to Europe… Yeh we loved Swaziland, its culture and people are truly beautiful, along with the landscape. :-) !!!!!

On the 3rd Jan we went to Mozambique… spent 30 days there too…

Crossing boarders is always a strange experience, new people, language, culture, money and rules lie on the other side. Now we faced Portuguese, a language we were not conversant in, but had learned a few phrases, especially Carine who was great at learning a new language and with her spirit of adventure she was not afraid to try. Most of the time in Mozambique when we had to deal with a camping ground or backpacker to pitch our tent English was spoken, but in the markets and on the street local language and Portuguese ruled.

This is where the travelling started to get slow and difficult at times. Our whole trip from the start was by public transport, except a few short trips with other tourists in their hired cars, we took the cheapest option most times which meant travelling in overcrowded mini vans or buses for long periods in the intense heat and humidity. It's in these situations that you meet the people of a country, not on a tourist bus or organized tour, using what the locals use. They respect that and treat you as an equal, not as a rich whitey tourist. Try to speak their language and you will soon be making friends. The condition of the roads in Mozambique was not good with many potholes and erosion and damage from cyclones from past years still not repaired, it all added to the adventure. As we travelled thru some areas the buildings still show the scares of war with bullet holes in the walls and shells of vehicles burnt out or blown up. Maputo thru to Zia Zia ,Toufu, Bazzaruto Islands, wow what a coast line, white endless beaches. There almost no tourists, it was very, very hot. Almost no rain and it was meant to be the wet season, the whole region was slipping into drought and although the food situation was ok they where in big trouble for winter as many of the crops had failed from lack of rain. We would buy cheap but great seafood from the local fisherman which we would BBQ on an open fire with rice and onions and tomatoes. With the food problems starting to show in the markets, onions and tomatoes were the only fresh vegetables available but Mozambique is full of spices so with a little imagination and trial and error we ate well, basic but well. We swam with whale-sharks & dolphins and had the best snorkeling of our life at Baz Islands which we sailed to in a local boat called a 'Dhow'. Again we loved the country but the people were harder and less friendly although we still made friends it was harder. You have got to expect that after what they have been thru over the last 50 years, wars and suppression. Still we only got to see a portion of the country mainly the lower south east coast as its so big and we are so slow… hey, with hammocks on the beach and beaches to ourselves, seafood laid on… who the hell needs speed :-)

With our visas about to expire we had to tear ourselves away from the coast and the prawns and head for Malawi.

2 very long days of travel later, 600 km approx, we arrived at the Moz / Malawi boarder, tired, hungry and dirty. This was it. This was the moment we had both been waiting for, for a very long time. Malawi. The warm heart of Africa. The place we both didn't get to visit last time round but had heard so much about and longed to experience its beauty.

Experience No 1. Corrupt Boarder guards. On advice from the Malawi Embassy in Maputo Moz. We went to the boarder without visas to enter. Me being Australian had no problems to enter for free, Carine on the other hand being Swiss would have to pay 20US$ for a 30 day visa. No problems. Wrong, today the rules have changed and the boarder guard proceeded to tell us that unless we, or Carine only, would have to travel back almost 2,000km to Maputo to get a visa. No way that was happening, it would take more than a week to do, and with a cyclone building off the coast of Mozambique, no way were we going to get caught on the low lands near the coast, on the only road to link North and South of the country, we could get stuck there for months. After some arguing and yelling he calmly stood there and rubbed his stomach telling us that it would be good his family eat nice food tonight. Ahh. Now we understood the problem. We were going nowhere fast unless we 'paid the piper'. With no turning back possible as the Moz boarder 5km back up the road was now shut for the day and our visas expired anyway, what do you

do ? He then asks us how much money we are carrying. We said we have no money only credit card. He then said we will search you to see if you tell the truth. Shit, if he does that then they will find the US$ we had stashed away and that could be expensive, even trip ending. Carine thinking quickly said but I do have 40 Swiss francs just here in my travel wallet, well his greedy big eyes just glowed didn't they as he saw Carine pull out 2 nice clean 20SF notes. Nice move Princess. With our visas now stamped into our passports we picked up our packs and walked outside exhausted, we looked at each other and laughed…. In front of us was big sign saying 'Welcome to Malawi, The Warm Heart of Africa'.

On the 2nd of Feb, late, we entered Malawi… excited to say the least… we went to Blantyre the capital 80kms away to plan our next 30 days or more. It was now past midnight when we arrived in the city, not a good time to be out in an African city you don't know. With 1 more little drama for the day to deal with we were at our limit, we were now faced with a taxi driver who told us he knew the place we wanted to go, but was now doing circles and trying to rack up the meter. Well we noticed that we went by the same place twice and when he finally turned down the road to where we wanted to go it was just past where he picked us up from. So we said nothing as we knew that it was the correct road now from the address we had written down. He stopped and we got out with our bags quickly with him telling us the price. I smiled and told him calmly that I have been here many times and the boss of the place he has dropped us at is a personal friend and when he finds out the way you treated us you will have a problem. 'Oh its ok you just pay the normal price' he said. We paid him a 10th of the first price he told us. Now inside and wrecked we faced a tiny problem of no beds left so we would have to pitch the tent, so in the dark we fumbled around until we found a level spot, put the tent up, had a shower and slept for a day.

We didn't know it when we arrived at the backpacker that the owner was an old friend from Victoria Falls, he left there when the problems got too big with the Government in Zimbabwe and started business in Malawi. He told us he would be going to Lake Malawi where he runs a Dive School in 6 days. Perfect. That gave us time to go to Mt Mulanje, a 3,000m peak that we had wanted to summit. We arrived at the town at the base of Mt Mulanje and gathered together our food for the 4 days up the mountain and found out that the locals provide a guide and porter service for the walks. We had wanted to go just by ourselves, but with the tourist numbers very low, many of the guides and porters hadn't worked for a long time, and when they showed us in the walker register just how little they had worked this year we were shocked. So we supported their efforts to provide a service. We hired a guide (6 months no work) and a porter (12 months no work). How do they survive ? The scenery was spectacular, the walking now easy as we just carried some water, camera and jacket in a small pack. The lads did the rest. The humidity of the lower slopes faded away to fresh mountain air, cool streams and giant cedar trees. We stayed in huts that the forestry dept look after and it cost 1sf for the night. We didn't get to summit Mt Mulanje as we found out before we left the village that the meaning of Mulanje (Sapitwa is the local name) was ' do not come here' and the locals believe the spirits live there. Mountain myths are strange but we believe you should not go to sacred places just so you can say 'I’ve been there'. We have been to where the guide said it was ok and enjoyed her beauty, respectfully not going any further than that. We had the hut to ourselves for 2 days and enjoyed the cool temperature, it was a big shock to the system as we had just been in 35-40° C with high humidity, now it was 20° C thru the day and 3-5° at night. Perfect. Carine enjoyed swimming in cool mountain river holes, too cold for an Aussie, but she loved it.

In the cool of the Mountains, unknowingly, we made love for the last time ........

Our last afternoon on Mt Mulanje we walked to the Northern edge of the escarpment to look at the view north to Lake Malawi our next destination and the biggest reason we came to Malawi. As we approached the edge the weather changed dramatically and a big storm started to build up. We waited a short time to see if the clouds would part. They did for 5 minutes and with the sun behind the clouds it gave an eerie feeling with the wind and rain. We left the edge and started back, it took 1hr to get to the hut in the storm with small creeks now waist high torrents it got very serious quickly. The next day we walked down, said goodbye to our new friends who had been terrific and made our way back to Blantyre to meet Glen & Nyhoko and catch a ride to Lake Malawi.

Wednesday the 9th Feb we left Blantyre riding in the back of the open back 4 wheel drive with 2 other travellers from Israel. Comfortable and wind blowing in our faces this would be an easy 250km trip,3hrs we will be at the lake. Yehaa. About 2/3s of the way there we passed a car going the other way and the brakes went on hard, so did the other cars. Both cars now in reverse. Stop. 'Hi mate how are you' bla bla, it was Glen’s business partner he had not seen for 3 months due to different projects, both have lived and worked for 20 odd years in Africa. We spun around and headed straight to the nearest pub for a high powered business meeting. 5hrs and a 100 beers and many awesome stories later we were back on the road, Nyhoko now at the wheel as she doesn't drink.

The lake here we come, we laid in the back watching the stars and wondering where we are going as the road was getting worse and twisting and winding thru the bush, we were now in Lake Malawi National Park almost at Cape Maclear an incredibly beautiful spot we had heard so much about.

It was 10 or so when we arrived and the Lake didn’t disappoint us one little bit. A magical sight lay before our eyes.

A clear star lit night with a new moon, a perfectly smooth water, white sandy beaches and fishing boats with small lanterns floating on the lake…

This paradise would be our home for the next 10 days.

Carine was at this stage infected or about to be infected with Malaria.

The next days we swam, snorkeled, walked around the village and surrounds meeting people, we had some young boys cooking breakfast on the beach and an older guy who brought fresh fish from the lake and cooked it on a small fire with rice and you guessed it, tomatoes and onions. We slept in beds for the first time in months as everything in Malawi was so cheap that our budget now allowed us to treat ourselves to a bed and a room to spread out in. That was great as staying in the tent becomes very tiring.

We had found a young man who carved timber rings using Black Ebony. We had found our wedding rings. When we married just over a year earlier we didn’t have rings as we wanted something different, not just a gold ring. This was one of our little missions we had for the trip… find our wedding rings !! Over the following days we had the rings made and then adjusted, this process would go on for the next 7 days with one of us having a ring , the other not, then the reverse. We had dinner at Glen’s house and went on the most wonderful dive with him. Lake Malawi is one of the lakes that provide the world with Aquarium fish, yes the little fish in your home fish tank. Now this lake is just like being in a fish aquarium… Just so beautiful and with the clearest water.

On Tuesday night the 15th Feb Carine said she felt a bit sick. I asked her how she felt, we thought it was food related sick. The next day we had planed a kayak trip to the islands for the day to go snorkeling and watch the local sea eagles feed. She said she would see how she felt in the morning.

The next morning she said she still felt a bit funny but would be ok to paddle to the island and go snorkeling. I didn’t question her judgment of how she felt, I didn’t ask anymore questions, wish I had. We had a superb day together. Carine spent so much time in the water I thought she would turn into a fish.

I remember her saying she felt better when she was in the water.

Of course she did, she was in the early stages of malaria and the cool water was keeping her fever down.

We finished the day with a beautiful sunset, cool cokes and one of Boris's great pizzas.

It’s from here on that things start turning bad for both of us.

Thursday 17th Feb. I woke up to find that Carine didn’t have a good night. She was now sweating and starting to feel weak. She had vomited 1 time thru the night, and had mild Diarrhea. Carine after a swim to cool down found the strength and we walked almost 1 km to the local hospital where she saw a doctor. I could hear her in the room laughing with the doctors and thought to myself things must be ok. My greatest fear was realized when she came out and said the doctors think I have Malaria. They diagnosed Malaria by symptoms as they had no blood tests left. They prescribed her Quinine at 600mg per day for 5-7 days, Paracetamol to control the fever. And Brufen for me if the pain in my tooth gets too bad.

We walked back and sat on the bed together and discussed what we should do.

We were carrying in our medical kit the best drug on the planet for Malaria. Coartem. When we landed in Johannesburg S.A it was at the top of our list of things to buy before we left. I eventually found a Doctor that would prescribe the drug without actually having the disease. And 2 blood tests which would only tell you that you are pos/neg but not what strain of the virus that’s infected you, good for when you’re not close to a hospital.

We talked about the situation and decided not to take the Coartem as we were satisfied with the diagnosis of Malaria and the prescription of Quinine as satisfactory for the treatment. We decided to keep the Coartem for when we where not able to get medical help quickly as we planned to go further away from the cities and big towns in the south to the more remote north of the country.

A crucial thing happened that day at the hospital, something that we were unaware of its importance. Not to have a blood test that tells you what strain you are infected with. Knowing what I know now, and I’ve learnt a lot, we would have got to a place for that test, even if it meant sitting on a overcrowded bus for ten hours. Whatever it took. Hell my princess was sick, I would have done anything for her.

Carine had a time bomb inside her just waiting to go off. She was infected with the worst strain. Cerebral Malaria. This strain grows in the kidney then moves to the spinal column and then goes up to the brain finally cooking it. Quinine being ineffective for the treatment.

On Friday morning we discussed whether or not to travel to the next big city for 2 reasons. 1) my tooth was hurting a lot now and needed treatment, 2) for Carine to be close to hospital. As Carine’s strength was dropping we decided not to go now but we would wait for her to recover then we would get my tooth fixed. I understood she was weak and didn’t feel like sitting in a hot bus. It was better to stay close to the lake for the cool water.

Carine showed amazing strength over the next days. She was sleeping and sweating a lot, was not vomiting, still had a mild diarrhea but not as bad as other people I had seen with Malaria. She was getting up and going to the toilet and showers which where 50 meters away across a hot court yard or for a swim 40 meters away, unassisted. I was really only helping to keep her towels wet and to walk to the well to get her more water to drink and to make sure the pills were taken, but she was on the job for the pills.

I was not looking at a typical Malaria patient, far from it.

On Saturday afternoon our ring carver showed up with the final finished ring of Carine, he had done a good job, I paid him the last amount and raced back to Carine who was asleep. I lay down next to her and she woke up. She asked why I was so happy and without answering her she gave a little happy shriek knowing that I had her ring. I put the ring on her finger and we then renewed our vows to each other. Carine and I were so happy to finally have these rings, we cuddled and kissed and looked at the rings on our fingers thinking it had been worth the wait to find them and that now we felt married.

I could not have imagined, not even in my worst nightmare, that in 24 hrs I would be taking that ring from her finger.

Sunday 20th Feb

The worst day of my life

We were awake around 8 am and went for a swim together. Carine was looking ok considering she was now 5 days into the sickness and entering the 4th day of treatment. At 9am she asked for some food. Great news when a sick person asks for food it usually means that they are feeling better and on the recovery. I asked Boris what we could feed her and he said porridge and he made her a bowl. She ate it no problems. She then said she felt weak and would have a sleep. I had put a mattress on an outside bed under the shade of a grass roof and with a nice breeze blowing to cool us she lay down to sleep. I sat beside her reading a book and chewing cloves to numb the pain of my tooth.

It was now 10am.

For 3 hrs I sat there reading with a feeling that my princess was going to be alright and soon we will be able to move to deal with this tooth of mine.
At 1 pm or so Carine's eyes opened, her head was tilted back and jaw clenched tight and was sucking air hard thru her teeth. The rest of her body was in seizure and in a contorted state. Her head was on fire, it was so hot to touch. The bomb had exploded inside her head and was now working to shut down her vital organs.

Carine was in a coma.

I jumped up in shock of what I saw before me and asked Carine what was wrong, no reply, quickly I understood we had a very serious problem. I screamed for Boris and he came running. He took one look at Carine and we quickly sorted out what needed to be done he said for me to go find a car as his was out of fuel. The only other car I could think of was Glen’s, 1.5 km up the beach. Boris called Glen. I started to run towards the beach to get there, as I got to the beach Boris's brother arrived in a speed boat. He took me to Glen’s place and as I arrived to the beach Glen and Nyhoko met me with the car and some drugs to inject Carine with and a mobile phone. A medical student doing a dive with Glen that day offered to come with me and take a look at Carine. The student and I jumped into the car and took off. She injected Carine and confirmed that we have a serious problem. Glen told us that if the drugs are going to work you will see a difference in 10 minutes. I looked at my watch. 1.50pm. I asked Boris if the small hospital we went to earlier in the week was open, he said no its Sunday it’s best we go to Monkey Bay. I felt the situation to be too bad to wait any longer and together we all lifted her on the mattress she lay on into the back of the open back 4 wheel drive. Boris offered to ride in the back and protect her from rolling around and keep her towel wet, as I wanted to drive to make sure we got there as quick as possible. We had about 30 km to do. 20 of it rough dirt road. 10 rough tar. On the way out of town we dropped off the medical student and met Glen. Glen has had Malaria 15 times and Nyhoko 13, the last time she too was in Carine's condition and spent 4 days in a coma in intensive care in S.A after being airlifted out of Blantyre 250 km south of where we were right now. A medical air evacuation plane will not take off from S.A until 30,000 US$ is deposited into their bank account. It would take us about 3 hrs to drive to Blantyre to meet it and being Sunday God knows how long to organize the money. He took one look at Carine and from the look in his eyes and the tone of his voice I knew that we were in a very grave situation now. I drove like a man possessed. We stopped once to wet the towels from a creek and for me to check Carine’s condition.

We arrived at Monkey Bay Hospital at about 2.30pm and had to wait 15 minutes for the doctor to get there. He checked Carine and told me that he did not have the drugs she needed nor an oxygen machine and that we should move to Mangoche Hospital 90 km to the south. He also told me the general area was experiencing an outbreak of Malaria. Fuck , I knew Africa and knew that this is common for the hospitals to run out of drugs. We put Carine in the hospital’s ambulance. The ambulance was the same type of 4 wheel drive Toyota Landcruiser that we drove in to Monkey Bay except the back was now covered. Inside was empty except for two long bench seats, one down each side and an extra spare wheel lying on the floor. I tied the bench seats up flat against the sides and moved the spare tire a bit. We lay Carine on the mattress we took from Boris's place and put her inside and we got in with her. The hospital driver took over driving.

It was now just on 3pm and although the road got a bit better the afternoon crowds of people walking home along the road slowed us considerably and on one big bump the strap holding one of the seats broke so I had to hold it up with my knee while I looked after Carine. On the way Carine stopped breathing twice for about 10 seconds or so, each time I yelled to her to keep fighting and keep breathing and as I was about to start mouth to mouth resuscitation, she half closed her eyes and drew breath again. Boris spent the trip trying to call a helicopter pilot he knew that might be able to fly her to Blantyre and Glen to find out how he was going at what he was trying to achieve, that was to contact Airmedivac and have them on standby, the travel insurance company Emergency Assistance and Carine's parents.

For Africa things were happening fast, for Carine, not fast enough.

The driver did a good job of getting there without causing any more problems, this one was enough.

It was now 4.30 pm and we were in the emergency room in Mangoche Hospital. The doctor had her on a saline drip with intravenous malaria drugs quickly but then he said to me we have no fever breaking drugs left or oxygen or any of the support that she desperately needed. The new ambulance that had been donated to the hospital had been emptied of most of its equipment by thieves so there was no way now to move her and give the support needed but we continued to come up with a plan. Glen was now organizing breathing oxygen from his dive shop and Boris was on his way back to get the car and meet him. With that we may be able to move her. The helicopter pilot could not be reached and the Medivac process was stalled while Glen tried to find our details of insurance and Carine's parents number.

The only thing I could do was stay there and try my best to keep her temperature down and work with the doctors, all the time I was asking questions trying everything to help her.

Carine's condition was worsening, her temp was now almost 43°c and she was really struggling to breathe.

Around 5.30 pm she seamed to be responding to the drugs and her body released from the seizure and she started to breathe a little easier. A suction tube was now down her throat to help clear the lungs of mucus that she was expelling. I continued to wipe her down and keep her head covered with cool towels.

The next hour and a half Carine's condition remained the same the only thing that changed was her temperature was now just over 43.5°c.

I spoke with Glen and he told me they have a problem with the car but will have it fixed and will be on the road soon. He told me that he has contacted Bruno, Carine's dad and that things were now moving on that front.

Bruno called me and I explained the urgency of the situation we now faced.

At approximately 7.15 pm Carine's breathing slowed dramatically and the tube in her throat was filling with dark colored fluid. I called for the doctors, while they where coming I started to clear her mouth of the mucus which was now flowing out. The doctors arrived 5 minutes later. Carine’s color of her skin was darkening and her breathing now almost stopped.

Then Carine stopped breathing.

With the amount of mucus and dark fluid it meant the doctors would not do mouth to mouth resuscitation.

I immediately started mouth to mouth resuscitation. For several minutes I worked, the doctors found a face mask with a hand pump and after I vomited from the taste of the mucus they were using that when I got back to her.

Then Carine's heart stopped beating.
The doctors started cardiac massage while I took over mouth to mouth.

The doctor injected adrenaline and after a minute the heart started again but no breathing. I continued for another couple of minutes with mouth to mouth and the face mask.

Then Carine's heart stopped again.

We worked for another 3-4 minutes until when one of the doctors said to me its no good, we have lost her, I urged him to continue but the look on his face told me what I didn’t want to accept, the end.

At approx 7.30 pm Carine's time had come, she had lost the fight, she was now an angel.

The doctors left the room and I was now alone with Carine. I was in a state of anguish, shock, confusion. Carine's brother called and I told him the sad news. I called Glen. Next I wiped her down and cleaned her up and sat on the bed holding my princess talking to her, crying uncontrollably. Carine was in her swimmers and a sarong.

I walked out of the room into the corridor to refocus.

The sight that lay before me was unforgettable. In the ward were a 1000 eyes staring back at me in the dim light with the same desperation as I felt right then, in them. Maybe they were next, the white man and all his money and power had just lost his wife to Malaria, they knew it, word travels fast, they were scared too, each one fighting a battle against the odds and almost powerless to do anything about it. I turned and started to move when again I stopped and down each side of the corridor were people, it looked like a war hospital, sick children everywhere, but almost no noise or crying, just silent suffering. Overwhelmed I went back to the room with Carine, as I entered the room two big rats ran across the floor. I sat on the bed holding her hand and stared in disbelief at Carine, I lay down next to her and cried. I started to remove her jewellery as I knew that if it stayed on her it would disappear. The last piece I took from her finger, her wedding ring and placed it on my small finger on my left hand.

I went numb.

At about 8.45pm Glen arrived. He came into the room, I got up and he held me. He then saw that although I was extremely upset, I was somehow still in control, 'brother' he said 'the problems won’t stop here, you got to stay strong and focus now on getting Carine home.' He looked at Carine and said 'you’ve done a good job cleaning her up now step outside and get some air I'll talk to the doctors'.

I made sure she was covered with her sarong, I kissed her one last time and left the room.

In the hall stood Carl, a French Canadian, he and his brother Norbert had been diving with Glen that day and they heard about what was happening, French being their mother tongue they thought I would need help for translations of what was happening to Carine's family back home and the insurance company. They were right. That day they willingly stepped into a living hell, with their hearts wide open, showing the true spirit of human kindness. They stopped their travel for 5 days to help Carine and I get home. Glen, Nyhoko and Boris also willingly, with open hearts helped in every way possible. These beautiful humans (and many more) gave me the strength for what lay ahead.

With Carine now in the morgue, we faced a long, silent most times, drive back to Cape Maclear.

We started to talk about what needed to happen now.

Bang, bang, bang. The car shook violently and Glen stopped as quick as possible. Earlier Glen and Boris had the same problem. The disk brake calliper had vibrated loose, with 1 bolt left to hold it, we tightened it back up and continued on our way.

That night we talked and talked asking questions, and figuring what to do next. After taking some sedatives I slept for about an hour then got up and started to repair the 4 wheel drive. Glen took bolts from a spare car and I got under the 4wd to get it fixed as we now had to drive back to Mangoche hospital to get Carine's body and move her to Blantyre.

Thru the night Mangoche lost electric power supply causing the morgue to warm up and Carine's body needed to be stored properly.

We arrived at around 9 am and the sight of the Hospital in the daylight was yet another sight I will never forget. The building is almost the size of a football field sitting on grounds about 4 soccer fields in size. There must have been around 3000 people around the grounds with God knows how many inside. Families camped all over. Under the trees were more sick people who could not fit inside. Glen went inside to find the doctor and get the paper work happening. As I moved around the grounds people where coming to me and offering their condolences, many not saying anything but holding their hands on their hearts. I replied the same, wishing them all the best. I instinctively started moving towards a building that no one was standing near, as I got near I realized why, it’s the morgue. I went to the door and it was open a bit so I could see inside, Carine lay there wrapped in a blanket, I didn’t go in but noticed ants running all over the blanket. I turned and quickly went to find Glen, he was with the doctor and I told him what I just saw. We organized the ambulance not waiting for the paper work and permission to move her to come thru. I went into the morgue with 3 other people and we lifted Carine out of there and into the back of the ambulance, I jumped into the back with Carine and we left for Blantyre, it was 10 am. Glen and Carl stayed at the hospital to get the papers and then would follow me.

The trip was hot and slow, over 3hours to do 190 km. On the way I just sat there on the spare wheel with Carine and cleaned off the ants. Many times breaking down and crying.

We arrived at the University hospital which had the best morgue in the city and the only one that could embalm her and cold store her properly. We moved her inside. Glen and Carl arrived soon after and we went to Glen’s Backpacker Lodge he owned to stay the night. Early the next morning we made our way back to Cape Maclear.

The rest of Tuesday Carl and Glen dealt with the insurance company and the morgue and French speaking family and friends that were now calling as the news spread, I dealt with the English family and friends. On Tuesday evening I felt strange, my temperature was 38.5, without hesitation I commenced a course of Coartem, at the same time I was now on antibiotics and pain killers for my tooth.

On Wednesday morning I found the courage to go back to the clinic at Cape Maclear and talk with the doctors who diagnosed her, as I had some questions. They spoke openly about the consultation with Carine agreeing that her condition didn’t seem that bad, mainly because of her strength and the fact she was laughing and joking with them. We discussed what should be done in the future with white travellers when diagnosed with Malaria, especially without a blood test. They must be advised to get out to a major city quickly while they have the strength to move and get a blood test.

Again as I moved around the village people were coming to me to offer their words of love, strength and condolences. It was truly overwhelming at times to see their sadness for me and Carine's family.

Wednesday evening as the sun was getting low I made my way to the Lake for a swim and found myself to be alone for the first time. Except Glen, Nyhoko, Carl and Norbert sitting quietly having a drink at a bar just down the beach there was no one around this part of the beach, no beach boys trying to sell me something or offering to cook dinner. For some reason I don’t know, they gave me some space. Thank you. The water was glass smooth and I dived in and swam out 80m to the last moored fishing boat and hung onto the anchor rope at the front and just floated there crying and watching a beautiful African sunset on Lake Malawi.

A most surreal moment.

Thursday morning I said goodbye to Boris, you will never be forgotten for your help that day my friend and the staff of Fat Monkey's Backpacker. We made our way back to Blantyre as preparations for Carine's and my departure were still being hammered out. Carl, a film director, showed all the diplomatic phone skills and was dealing with a very frustrating situation that kept going around in circles between the morgue, plane companies and the insurance company in Germany. Glen was using his 20 years of experience dealing with the African System to make things happen. Together they were awesome.

I at this stage was ready to explode at the situation, the next call from the insurance company, I took.

Also at no stage of the process did the Swiss Embassy call us to find out if they could help with any aspect of the situation, although they had full knowledge of Carine's death. Your silence was heard very loudly indeed. If it was me dead and Carine alive, I know that the Australian Embassy would have stepped up to the plate and helped her in any way possible to get me home to OZ, to my family and friends where I could be laid to rest. We did the job for you, I'm not going to pat myself on the back, but I am going to call you PATHETIC AND USELESS and not worth the money your citizens PAY for you. You need to look at yourselves real close and ask some questions as to how you seem to repeat these unacceptable mistakes. This is not the first time I’ve heard this story about you, WAKE UP. I know I acted correctly that’s why I sleep at night. How do you sleep ?

At around 11am Glen dropped me at the morgue to deal with the dressing and preparation of Carine for the trip home. Carine's father Bruno had requested to see his daughter one last time, so that meant an open coffin. The morgue did only basic services as most Africans are buried quickly and without much preparation, only the rich can afford that. I entered the morgue and Maggie, Dept Head and another staff member brought Carine to the preparation area. I was about to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, dress Carine's frozen body. They left me saying they are just outside waiting to help me to put on her dress, I had chosen the one she had brought in Rustlers Valley S.A, the one she looked absolutely beautiful in while we were travelling, the one she wore for our Anniversary in Swaziland and romantic dinners on the beach at Lake Malawi.

I stood contemplating what I was about to do.

I somehow moved over to her and commenced to brush her hair and found myself talking to her, natural I suppose, her body was so cold, the situation overwhelmed me again and I walked out. I spoke with Maggie and she said she would do her best. I went outside to breathe and regain my composure. I was sitting crying when a big African lady sat down beside me and placed her arm around my shoulder and asked me what's wrong. I told her. She then spoke back with such strength and wisdom and she gave me the energy to continue, at the end she said 'your wife needs you to be strong, her family need you to be strong, you are strong you are a man its your duty'. As she left me I felt a power rise inside of me. Was she an angel. I don’t believe in God so to speak but have always believed that there is a greater power or something out there. I walked, no, floated it felt, back inside to find that Maggie, bless her heart, had put lipstick on Carine's lips and put the dress on backwards. I said to Maggie very calmly' its wrong Maggie, Carine does not wear makeup and the dress is on backwards, we must change this as it doesn't look right' she apologized so much, I told her 'its alright we can fix it'. I got up on the table standing above Carine, lifting and rolling her and together we turned the dress around. Maggie apologized again and again I told her not to worry. She found some tissues and removed the lipstick. I then said to them that I will be alright to do the rest. They left. This time I was able to do what I had to do. With her hair brushed and some of her jewellery back on, Carine was now ready to be placed into the coffin. I went to find Maggie and as I walked out, there stood Carl with his eyes wide open looking at me, I didn’t quite notice him, but he said later that for someone doing what he thought I was doing, I looked incredibly serene and together, I felt it. With Maggie and the staff member we placed Carine into the coffin, I did the final touches and we put the lid on. Maggie and the other staff member started to seal the coffin hermetically, I went outside and smoked a cigarette with Carl. He asked if I'm ok.

Amazing the answer was 'yes, she's ready to go home'.

The rest of the day we spent still organizing the final details, I had to pay for my plane ticket and pay a bill to the morgue and several others. For a cheap country things just got really expensive.

That night I ate with Glen, Nyhoko, Carl and Norbert, we had some drinks at the bar, a gentleman approached me and introduced himself. I can’t remember his name but he told me that if I have any problems tomorrow to call him on his private line and he will sort it out. He said 'I understand you have problems with the airline, this area my family is very powerful in' he offered his condolences, urged me to call if things were not right' and left. My friends were tired and went to bed and so was I but I was to anxious to sleep and stayed talking to Mike and Tara, Carine and I met them in the first week in Johannesburg staying at the same backpacker, we had discussed travelling together or meeting up later, we missed them once by a day and now here I was delivering the sad news, they were truly shocked. We spoke for hours, I told them the names of the drugs they needed to get their hot little hands on before they leave Blantyre. We finally got tired, had smoked all the cigarettes, we said Goodbye.

I didn’t sleep, just rested on the bed.

We were booked to fly out at 11.45am, by 9am we were at the morgue to escort Carine's coffin to the airport. There was a problem, we still had no confirmation on the next leg, at the moment we could fly to Jo’burg S.A but no connection from there confirmed. By 10am I made the decision to leave the morgue and go to the airport. On the way we got confirmation on the leg to London. We arrived around 10.45 am and booked Carine into the Cargo Dept. I waited nervously with Carine while the others took care of our baggage and booked me in.

At 11.35 am I was asked by the cargo Head what I wanted to do. With no confirmation yet of the final leg I said to load Carine and I will deal with it as I go. It must have been 45° - 50° Celsius in that Cargo shed I didn’t want her to stay there any longer, at least London would be colder with the facilities to store Carine properly.

I said a tear full Goodbye to Glen & Nyhoko, Carl and Norbert and Dougel the dog. Thanking them from the bottom of my heart for what they had done.

The plane that was now waiting for me and Carine was now being loaded I could see. Once on board I saw a hostess and asked to make a call. She organised it and soon I was talking to the man I met the night before, he told me he has been watching the games being played on the computer in regards to the confirming of my flights and had already made a call and for me to relax, you’re on the way they wont stop you now, you will pass straight thru customs in S.A to a first class lounge, if you have any problems call this number, I wrote it down, thanked him, he said it was no problem and was glad to help. My mind relaxed a bit on that flight. We were going home.

The leg from S.A to London was a blur, I didn’t sleep. I sat next to a lovely lady about Carine's age who was the perfect travelling partner, I told her my situation, she understood and we got on well, she helped me when I arrived at Heathrow, I was running out of steam.

In London I checked with the airline that Carine was taken care of but would not be going onto

Switzerland until Monday as there is a hold up with customs in London, they assured me that she was being taken care of properly. With that I could do no more than continue on to Geneva. My mother and brother were landing in Heathrow from Australia, I got my flight changed to be on the same flight as them to Geneva.

We met in the lounge and it was a tearful, sad reunion.

We landed in Switzerland and were met by family and friends.

Later that night we gathered together and I told them what happened as they were still in the dark about many things.

Carine arrived on Monday and lay in state for 2 days at St Martins church, Vevey.

On Wednesday 3rd of March Carine's funeral was attended by approx 300 family and friends, she was truly loved and will be dearly missed.

May you rest in peace my Princess and thank you for the best years of my life, I love you & will miss you immensely.

Copyright 2006

Merci Murray pour ton témoignage

Philippe Constantin, Directeur Artistique, est mort du paludisme en 1996


Thanks to Lucy Elkins for her article




Lire les 97 commentaires en ligne des nombreux cas de neuropaludisme partis sans prophylaxie malheureusement trop souvent décédés.

Read the 97 online comments of numerous cases of neuropaludism left without prophylaxis unfortunately too often died.

ALWAYS TAKE YOUR ANTI-MALARIAL PILLS. A good African friend of mine was lecturing at an American university for 2 years before relocating back to East Africa recently. He took anti-malarial pills and yet he still got sick from the illness; luckily he was treated in time. Now, if an indigenous individual from those tropical parts of the world can catch malaria despite taking pills to circumvent it, what makes a Westerner think they can go there unprotected? A sad story nonetheless. I hope a lot of people learn diligently from this unfortunate death...

- elley, colchester, uk, 1/6/2010 23:13

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282967/Malaria-Mattie-Cooper-died-taking-anti-malaria-drugs.html#ixzz1kaR4QbDQ

ou ça Any loss of life that could be prevented is sad, made more so when it is a young life full of dreams. As a parent of a soon to be 17 year old who will be travelling to Malawi in July & Kenya in October. I have filled out a travel risk assessment form from our local medical unit & will be taking professional advice on all vaccines & medication recommended. Sometimes you have to have experienced such a loss to take action! My Father travelled to Africa,middle east for over 10 years. He suffered malaria several times and thought he was immune. Then worked in Ghana for several years retired December 1999. Returned home after a few days felt unwell flu like symptoms, his wife decided to leave him to get better did not seek medical assistance. My Father was taken by my brother into walk in centre on Christmas night, he was taken to high dependancy ward later intensive care. Falciparum malaria unfortunately he was taken in too late! He died a very painful death 4th Jan 2000. Miss him loads.

- Tibs, Leicestershire, 1/6/2010 19:58

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282967/Malaria-Mattie-Cooper-died-taking-anti-malaria-drugs.html#ixzz1kaRQQ3n9

My heart goes out to this family as it is such a pointless and preventable death. My dad died in 1996 also from malaria. He hadn't taken the malaria pills as he thought from all the time he served in the navy and the countries he travelled in, he was safe as he had never caught anything before. Within 2 weeks of returning from Kenya he was gone. It is so sad to think that people are still dying in this day and age due to ignorance or that they won't pay out abit extra money for the pills. This isn't a nice thing to die from and 14 yrs later I still have the image of my big strong, stubborn, 'he who knows best' dad lying in the hospital in an induced coma with wires and tubes coming out of everywhere and never waking up and never being able to say goodbye to him.

- Ange, England, 1/6/2010 19:27

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282967/Malaria-Mattie-Cooper-died-taking-anti-malaria-drugs.html#ixzz1kaRXuXfv

A friend I went to school with dies in similar circumstances a few years back, collapsing at home after returning from travelling. He had been in the Far East, in an area where malaria was not prevalent & then took a trip to an different area and was bitten, unknowingly catching malaria. He was so young, it is a tragedy and almost completely avoidable. What this woman is doing in raising awareness is magnificent.

- Clare, UK, 1/6/2010 18:54

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282967/Malaria-Mattie-Cooper-died-taking-anti-malaria-drugs.html#ixzz1kaRk4qN6

The same thing happened to a former classmate of mine - except I believe she did start taking the treatment but stopped because it made her ill - and unfortunately she also died of malaria, in her early 20s. People should realise that this treatment is not optional...

- Ms MG, Paris, France, 1/6/2010 18:29

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282967/Malaria-Mattie-Cooper-died-taking-anti-malaria-drugs.html#ixzz1kaRrnh6f

T é m o i g n a g e s :

bonsoir Nathalie

Marc, avant

Je vous remercie de bien vouloir m'écouter. Voilà cela c'est passé au mois de janvier mon mari s'appelle Marc .Il travaillé à l'étranger  en plate forme pétrolière ou à terre .Depuis le mois de Décembre il se trouvé au congo à terre  Vers le 19 janvier il est rentré à la maison et une semaine après il a commencé à etre fatigué de la fièvre le surlendemain il aété chez le medecin  il est revenu à la maison en me disant que cela été la grippe c'était le mardi le jeudi il retourne le revoir il était encore mal le docteur lui donne encore un traitement en lui disant que cela été encore la grippe nous n'avons jamais pensé que cela pouvez etre le palu pourtant on en parlé à la maison.Le jeudi après midi je rentre du travail et je vois que marc est de plus en plus mal enflé les yeux jaunes du mal à respirer.J'appelle les pompiers en leurs disant que je trouvé mon mari pas trop bien et que j'aurais bien aimé qu'il aille à l'hopital ils n'ont pas voulu venir et me demande de l'emmener chez notre médecin nous sommes allés. le médecin a fait une lettre mais ne voyait pas qu'il était mal.Nous voilà parti je n'étais pas tranquillle en voiture .Arrivé aux urgences nous avons a peu près attendu un quart d'heure .un moment àprès il vient me chercher et me dit qu'il a le paludisme.Il l'on mis sous quinine hoxygène et ils cherchaient un hopital pour le transferer en réanimation en soins intensif nous avons attendu 3 heures avant que le samu vienne et finalment il a été transfere sur l'hopital d'avignon.Le lendemain a midi j'ai eu le droit d'aller le voir il était faible je lui ai donné à manger un moment àpres nous sommes partis avec mes deux enfants nous sommes revenus à 18 heures aux heures de visite et là le cauchemar a commencé marc avait eu des convulsions je me demande pourquoi on nous a laissé rentrer dans sa chambre vu dans l'état qu'il était en ayant eu peur ils nous on fait sortir et voilà un moment après intubation il l'on plongé dans le comamais après il est tombé dans le coma  et voilà une parasitémie à 25%.comme vous le savez ça attaqué le foie les reins oedeme au cerveau dans le corps .il s'est retrouvé dialisé .transfusé.la totale 46 jours de réa.Maintenant au niveau santé tout va bien .Mais voila il y a qu'une jambe qui bouge le haut du corps les bras très peu il est prisonnié de son corps la déglutition c'est difficile il a les muscles contractés .maintenant moins. la machoire est contractée on arrive meme pas à passer une cuillere.Il est toujours en unitée d'éveil mais il va falloir qu'il aille ailleurs .Il me proposait un centre de vie familiales retour à la maison mais je ne suis pas d'accord il faut qu'il aille dans un centre de réducation neurologique on va se battre il a 51 ans quand on lui parle on arrive à le faire pleuré il a des émotions quand on blague il rigole on pense qu'il comprend beaucoup de chose mais il n'arrive pas ni par des gestes ou clignement des yeux Marc est bien éveillé par moments il est lointain mais il sait bien écouter il faut faire attention il regarde bien de partout .Nous habitons  la drome nous sommes à peu près a 50 km d'avignon.qu'est ce que vous en pensez de tous cela faut il allé dans un grand centre mais ou je me sens perdu.
En attente d'une réponse à bientot nathalie .
(31 octoblre 2011)

Marc, apres le neuropaludisme

Bonjour Nathalie

Je trouve ton message après une journée de travail, je suis occupé au montage d'un film que j'ai tourné en juin, dans la Chartreuse, et qui s'est on ne peut mieux passé. Depuis "la maladie", déclarée chez moi début février 2009 après un séjour au Cameroun pour le tournage d'un autre film (puisque tu as vu mon blog, tu sais sans doute quelles sont mes activités). Je m'étais fait piquer plein de fois, le tournage s'étant déroulé dans les bas-fonds, très humides et infestés et je n'avais pas apporté la garde-robe adéquate : j'avais des shorts, des chemisettes....
J'étais à ce moment-là fragile, parce que fatigué après une année 2008 très chargée, et j'étais rentré deux jours avant le départ pour Yaoundé d'un autre tournage au Liban, sur le camp de Palestiniens réfugiés, Chatila de sinistre mémoire après les massacres très connus de 1982.

Après mon retour en France, et après avoir continué à prendre durant une semaine (mais j'ai appris bien plus tard que j'aurais dû en prendre pendant au moins trois semaines après le retour) le médicament préventif que je suis habitué à prendre à chacun de mes séjours en Afrique Subsaharienne, la Doxycycline, j'ai eu des coups de fatigue imprévisibles, puis des pertes d'attention. J'étais rentré chez moi à Marseille où j'habitais alors, m'étais livré à mes activités habituelles sans plus de difficultés que celles que j'attribuais à ma fatigue accumulée, avant de me rendre à Cannes pour entreprendre avec mon ami G, monteur, le commencement du montage de ce film camerounais (sur la souveraineté alimentaire). Et c'est là que la fatigue s'est transformée, absences plus fréquentes, baisse de mon acuité intellectuelle, grande faiblesse généralisée... Mon ami chez qui je résidais et travaillais m'a alors conseillé d'aller consulter son médecin de famille, pas loin de chez lui. J'ai pris rendez-vous et m'y suis rendu le lendemain. J'ai raconté ma petite histoire, ma grande fatigue, ai mentionné que j'étais rentré récemment d'un séjour en Afrique... et cette praticienne a diagnostiqué, après m'avoir ausculté, puis pris ma tension, ...une grippe ! Je la cite de mémoire : "Oui, c'est une grippe, tout le monde a la grippe en ce moment" et elle m'a prescrit de l'aspirine et de la vitamine C.

Quelques jours après, je suis rentré à Marseille où d'autres activités m'attendaient, notamment participer à une réunion d'information sur le voyage que j'avais fait au Cameroun en compagnie d'un couple de paysans français. Je devais filmer avec G cette réunion à laquelle j'avais invité une amie, spécialiste notamment des questions d'alimentation dans le monde, S G. J'avais décliné la veille au dernier moment l'invitation d'un amie très proche qui fêtait ses 50 ans, j'avais même oublié où cette fête devait se passer (dans une salle louée, loin de chez elle, et sur le tard je suis allé sonner à sa porte, à très peu de distance de chez moi, où j'ai donc évidemment trouvé porte close. Durant la réunion, j'avais demandé à G de prendre la caméra, car je ne m'en sentais pas capable. Pourtant, au cours de la réunion, je me suis levé et ai pris la parole, peu de temps mais énergiquement malgré tout. Le lendemain, après avoir partagé un petit déjeuner avec mon amie S à l'hôtel que j'avais réservé pour elle, je l'ai raccompagnée à l'aéroport en voiture, elle rentrait chez elle à Paris. J'avais encore des passages à vide, pas tout le temps, mais je les attribuais toujours à la fatigue, en pestant de ne pas parvenir à m'en remettre.

Deux jours plus tard, dont je n'ai pas gardé beaucoup de souvenirs sinon celui que c'est à ce moment qu'est intervenue la douloureuse et brutale conclusion d'une histoire amoureuse difficile, je suis parti à Paris où je devais notamment rencontrer deux personnes d'une ONG qui avait financé mon voyage au Cameroun. En arrivant dans leur bureau, je les ai prévenues de ma fatigue... et ce qu'il me reste comme souvenir, c'est que j'ai été incohérent, suscitant la surprise de mes interlocutrices, puis que je me suis excusé et suis parti sans demander mon reste. En sortant de l'immeuble, je ne savais plus où je devais aller, où était le métro, plus rien. J'ai eu la chance de trouver un taxi, j'ai pu indiquer au chauffeur l'adresse de l'hôtel ou j'avais pris une chambre, près de la République, et là, je me suis couché, puis endormi rapidement. Le lendemain, un samedi, j'avais rendez-vous avec une amie, M, pour prendre un brunch. Suis-je allé chez elle ? Est-elle venue me retrouver à l'hôtel ? Je n'ai eu la réponse à cette interrogation que bien longtemps plus tard. Et le lendemain, le dimanche, il était question que je dîne avec C, la maman de mon fils dont je suis divorcé depuis 19xx mais avec qui j'ai conservé de très bonnes relations. Elle devait aller au théâtre en début de soirée, et au téléphone, nous étions convenus que sans doute, si elle n'avait pas trop sommeil en sortant, elle viendrait me retrouver quelque part le soir pour aller dîner. J'étais toujours dans cette chambre d'hôtel. A un moment dans l'après-midi, alors que je sentais de plus en plus mal, je lui ai laissé un message sur le répondeur de son portable, lui disant que je me sentais très mal et je lui demandais sans doute de façon pressante de venir me voir dès que possible à l'hôtel dont je lui donnais le nom et l'adresse

C'est alors que tout s'est accéléré : C est venue, elle m'a vu dans un sale état, et sachant que j'étais rentré d'Afrique depuis peu, et connaissant elle-même le paludisme pour en avoir attrapé une forme relativement bénigne quelques années auparavant, elle a tout de suite pensé que je pouvais avoir une crise. Elle a donc pris mes affaires, appelé un taxi, je me souviens à peu près que j'ai demandé à la réception de l'hôtel si je pouvais avoir un thé, et nous sommes partis aux urgences de l'hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière. La suite, je ne la connais que parce que C me l'a racontée, j'ai été accueilli, on m'a fait le test de goutte épaisse, puis d'autres examens. C qui patientait dans la salle d'attente, croyait qu'on me donnerait un traitement, puis qu'elle me raccompagnerait chez elle où je serais mieux qu'à l'hôtel pour me rétablir, en un jour ou deux, comme elle-même s'était rétablie lors de sa maladie. Et au bout d'une heure ou deux, finalement, on a prévenu C que je rentrerais pas avec elle chez elle, mais que le service des urgences avait appelé le Samu, après avoir constaté qu'il n'y avait pas de place pour me garder, pour me conduire au service de réanimation de Cochin. Il paraît que j'ai parlé avec l'infirmier du Samu quand on m'a emmené, et même que j'ai répondu aux questions de l'interne de garde de Cochin à mon arrivée. Je n'ai gardé aucun souvenir de ces moments... et je ne me suis réveillé que 10 jours plus tard du coma dans lequel je suis tombé cette nuit-là, dans la chambre 2 de la Réa de Cochin.

La suite serait très longue à décrire. L'essentiel pour moi est que je suis guéri !

A mon réveil, le temps que je reprenne mes esprits (temps très long, que j'évalue à deux semaines au moins après la sortie "médicale" du coma), j'ai compris que j'allais guérir, que la maladie avait été jugulée. Encore plus tard, j'ai appris que pendant cette longue semaine, les médecins avaient dit à mes proches (C, notre fils J, mes sœurs et quelques amis intimes) que "le pronostic vital avait été engagé", ce qui veut dire que j'étais entre la vie et la mort. Et bien plus tard, le parasitologue de Cochin que je suis retourné voir pour des visites de "suivi", m'a dit que pendant trois jours, durant le coma, l'ensemble du corps médical qui s'occupait de moi avait cru que je ne m'en sortirais pas. Une des médecins, N D, qui me soignait à la Réa de Cochin (où je suis resté deux mois) m'a expliqué un jour, alors que j'avais retrouvé la majeure partie de ma lucidité, que le "pronostic vital" est engagé lorsque le taux d'invasion du parasite atteignait 5 %, et que dans mon cas il avait été mesuré à 20 %. Mais lorsque ces informations m'ont été données, elle m'avait déjà annoncé que j'étais tiré d'affaire, guéri du paludisme, mais que du fait cette forme-là, le "neuropaludisme", j'allais mettre du temps à m'en remettre. Je ne savais pas bien ce que ça voulait dire, mais je constatais qu'allongé sur ce lit d'hôpital, je ne pouvais pas me lever, ni bouger mes deux bras ou tellement peu, que ma voix s'était envolée, à peine pouvais-je murmurer quelques mots à voix très basse. Après ces deux mois (7 semaine et demi exactement), et après aussi des recherches apparemment difficiles, j'ai été admis dans un hôpital spécialisé dans la réadaptation, "l'Adapt" à Soisy-sur-Seine, près d’Évry, où je suis resté 3 mois et demi avant d'y revenir admis en ambulatoire trois jours par semaine pour encore un autre mois, puis y avoir refait un séjour un mois après en être sorti.

Aujourd'hui, il y a presque un an que j'ai quitté l'univers hospitalier. Je vais bien. Mais j'ai encore mis des mois avant de pouvoir retrouver une activité "normale", et si j'ai refait depuis lors deux nouveaux séjours en Afrique (l'un en décembre 2009, au Burkina-Faso pour parachever le tournage d'un autre film, l'autre en février de cette année, à l'invitation de mon amie S, pour visiter les réserves animalières de Tanzanie), si je me convaincs chaque jour que "c'est fini", que la maladie est désormais derrière moi, je sais bien qu'il m'en reste des traces. Je continue à aller régulièrement chez un kiné pour retrouver la totalité de la mobilité de mon bras gauche, et surtout je ne peux pas me défaire de cette fatigue qui me prend chaque jour, je n'arrive pas à rassembler mes capacités de concentration aussi longtemps qu'auparavant, je me surprends à commettre des erreurs d'inattention fréquemment (et des fautes de frappe sur le clavier de l'ordinateur, ce qui m'oblige à me relire à chaque ligne), à ne pas avoir toute la maîtrise de mes geste... Les médecins ont eu l'amabilité de me rappeler que je n'ai plus 20 ans et qu'à mon âge (58 ans), je dois me faire à l'idée que l'on ne se rétablit pas aussi vite que quand on est jeune... Il me faudrait apprendre la patience, mais je n'y parviens pas très bien. Mais je vis une vie quasi normale, je suis en train de retrouver une activité qui me va, d'avancer dans mon travail, de reconstruire mon économie personnelle qui en a pris un grand coup : un an et plus sans travailler, compte tenu de mon statut d'intermittent du spectacle ayant perdu le droit à l'indemnisation juste quelques mois avant la maladie, c'est une pente difficile à remonter.

Je termine ce récit (mais il y aurait encore tant à dire !) en insistant sur le fait que j'ai été magnifiquement soigné par tout le corps médical et paramédical, d'un bout à l'autre de sa hiérarchie, des grands patrons au personnel de service et de ménage sans distinction, très humainement aussi, et que je crois devoir énormément à toutes les personnes de ma famille et à tous/toutes mes ami(e)s qui m'ont apporté tant d'amour et de soutien et qui continuent à le faire aujourd'hui. Je n'aurai jamais assez de "merci" pour exprimer toute cette gratitude.

 Merci aussi, Nathalie, de m'avoir offert cette opportunité d'écrire ces lignes. Elles complètent le travail que j'ai fait, après la sortie de l'hôpital, avec un psychothérapeute qui m'a aussi beaucoup aidé à refaire surface.

Bien cordialement et avec toutes mes très sincères félicitations et mes remerciements pour ce que tu fais avec ton site Internet...


juillet 2010


Décembre 2011 :

Longtemps plus tard, je reprends ce texte. Je l'ai relu, y ai apporté d'infimes corrections.
Ce que je peux dire, pas loin de trois ans après le déclenchement de cette maladie, et à la veille de retourner deux fois en Afrique (une fois ce mois de décembre 2011 pour aller encore avec mon amie S et à son invitation en Afrique du Sud, Botswana et Zimbabwe, une autre fois en janvier pour un ultime tournage au Burkina Faso), c'est que je suis dans la vie, dans ce que de l'extérieur on pourrait qualifier de vie "normale".
De fait, je me suis installé dans un autre lieu dans la petite ville de Saintes, choisie parce que j'y ai des amis, que la vie y est calme, qu'elle n'est pas éloignée de l'Océan, ni de chez ma Maman qui vieillit à Bordeaux. Après plus d'un an passé en ermite dans une maison en région parisienne, j'ai décidé ça, de me replonger dans la vie sociale, active, politique, associative. Et ici, c'est facile, les gens sont ouverts et accueillants avec moi, pas intrusifs. Toutes les personnes à qui j'ai raconté ma vie de ces dernières années, la maladie, la guérison, ont été attentives et attentionnées. C'est très agréable. Et parfois j'ai de la visite : mon fils, sa maman, mes sœurs, des ami(e)s… Je leur montre "ma" ville, qui est belle et qui me plaît comme me plaît le petit appartement que j'ai trouvé, proche du centre, devant un magnifique chêne que je regarde chaque jour et que j'aime.
J'ai eu à apprendre et accepter plusieurs transformations en moi, suites de la maladie : la lenteur, car si mon esprit a bien retrouvé sa vivacité, en revanche physiquement, j'ai toujours cette fatigue permanente. Et aussi la difficulté à me concentrer : la lecture est devenue impossible pour moi, je ne peux plus aborder les livres, juste les journaux ont grâce à mes yeux. Il m'arrive fréquemment de m'endormir au cours d'une réunion ou encore d'une séance de visionnage de films quand je participe à la sélection de courts ménages africains pour un festival où je me suis laissé embarquer. De la même façon, l'écriture est difficile. J'ai dû m'y remettre, évidemment, car je n'ai pas arrêté de travailler. C'est laborieux. J'écris souvent, à la fois pour le travail, à la fois pour le quotidien, des courriers, des réponses à des courriels, des écrits un peu politiques. Et toujours, je dois m'y reprendre à plusieurs fois, relire avec une très grande attention pour débusquer les fautes, les mots oubliés, les phrases sans verbe, plein de petites fautes qui émaillent tous mes écrits. C'est comme les actes de la vie quotidienne : parfois je suis incohérent, je commence à faire quelque chose et je ne finis pas, je dois m'écrire des listes pour ne pas omettre la moitié du programme que je me fixe, etc. On me dit, mes amis me disent qu'eux aussi, il leur arrive les mêmes mésaventures, que c'est du fait de l'âge qui avance. Je n'insiste pas pour affirmer "ma différence".
Ce n'est pas le plus important.
Ce qui compte, c'est que je suis dans la vie, que je profite de ses plaisirs, que j'apprécie tous les instants, toutes les belles choses, sans hâte ni frénésie, que tout ce qu'il m'arrive de bien est un cadeau que je reçois avec gratitude. Et que les "petits malheurs", les petits handicaps sont finalement un peu insignifiants. Pas envie de me plaindre, juste envie de continuer, tant que je pourrai, à faire ce que j'ai à faire, continuer à vivre selon mes désirs et mes convictions, continuer à chercher ma place, même si je pourrais dire que je l'ai trouvée. Mais lorsque je crois être à ma place, il m'apparaît aussitôt que je peux bouger encore, évoluer encore un peu… Cette maladie qui m'a atteint ne me protège pas d'autres maladies, certaines qui me poursuivent depuis "avant", d'autres qui apparaissent, la vie et le vieillissement, comme tout le monde.
Oui, je suis comme tout le monde, avec juste ce pas de côté et ces petites différences dues aux suites de la maladie.
La maladie, elle me poursuit un peu : cette histoire d'un couple de Grenoble qui avait adopté un tout petit enfant au Bénin, et qui a appris au moment d'aller là-bas le chercher qu'il avait attrapé un neuropaludisme. Finalement ils sont rentrés sans l'enfant, trop faible pour voyager. Ils m'ont téléphoné après m'avoir demandé par mail s'ils pouvaient le faire; bien sûr, j'ai fait mon possible, avant leur voyage pour leur parler un peu de l'Afrique qu'ils ne connaissaient pas du tout et les prévenir que peut-être l'enfant qu'ils allaient enfin rencontrer pourrait ne pas rentrer avec eux, et à leur retour pour les aider, autant que je le pouvais, à renouer avec la vie et à regarder devant eux. Pour eux, ça a été une très rude épreuve, pour moi moins rude évidemment, mais une "remontée" de souvenirs, pas si simple, pas anodin. Et puis plus récemment, cette femme dont le mari, pris pas cette même maladie il y a un an, et une partie du cerveau gagné par le parasite, ne peut pas bouger, pas parler, tout juste manifester par un sourire ou un mouvement de sourcil un peu de plaisir ou d'assentiment, un peu de ce qu'il lui reste de vie. Une bagarre pour récupérer les images de l'IRM, aller consulter d'autres spécialistes que ceux qu'elle a vus et qui ont baissé les bras, parler d'espoir, de courage, de lutte contre l'indifférence extérieure et l'effondrement intérieur.
Je ne sais pas ce qui m'anime devant ces situations, j'ai juste le sentiment que je dois répondre présent à ces sollicitations. Heureusement que je peux échanger avec toi, Nathalie, toi qui es aussi, et bien plus que moi, investie dans ces combats contre le silence, l'ignorance. Toi qui es devenue une nouvelle sœur, toi avec qui s'est installé un lien d'un genre unique, indéfectible. Une solidarité de la maladie et de la rémission. Je te dédie ces lignes.
A bientôt, tant que le vie nous sourie… alors qu'elle aurait vraiment pu s'arrêter sans crier gare…

Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 20xx 1:10 PM
Subject: URGENT INFO +
Pouvez-vous m'aider, je viens d'apprendre que mon frère en voyage au Cambodge vient d'être admis en urgence car il a contracté la Malaria la + sévère
Le type est : PL FALCI +++
Faut il que je me rende immédiatement au Cambodge car il  ne peut pas être rapatrié d'urgence ?
Il est hospitalisé à la CT CLINIC SIH ANOUKVILLE chez le DR Lxx Kxx Hxxx mais je n'arrive pas à établir un contact téléphonique.
Si vous avez un réseau mondial, pouvez-vous svp me dire qui je px contacter dans cette clinique qui  parle soit français ou en anglais et pourrait me renseigner
Merci de votre aide


At 10:21 AM 3/13/20xx +0700, R B wrote:

Nous avons pu localiser le frère de Madame qui est ressortissant belge, M.xxxxxx et qui va mieux.
Vous pouvez contacter le dr xxx de CT Clinic 00 xxx xx xxx xxx.
Je mets en copie de ce courriel le consul honoraire de Belgique dont le courriel est :

Bien à vous
x Xx
Consul de France
Ambassade de France au Cambodge
Tél: xxx xxx xxx
Télécopie : x
courriel :

RE: URGENT paludisme

Bien reçu,
J'informe également l'Ambassade de Belgique a Bangkok.
Pour ma part, je serai à Sxx Rxx jusque dimanche matin.
x x
Consul honoraire de Belgique

Subject: congolais devenu paludéen

Bonjour Nathalie,

Ayant vécu la même histoire, ton récit m’a beaucoup bouleversé !!!
En plus, je suis né un x x 1967 à BRAZZAVILLE !?
Je réside à Mx.
Je te laisse mes coordonnées, au cas ou tu souhaiterais qu’on parle de tout ça. 

Lx Mx
@ :   xx

A bientôt et encore bon courage


Quant à tes exemples ,je peut te citer l'exemple également du propriétaire de l'hibiscus à WARANG mort en 48H devant nous tous, ALAIN un toubab de SOMONE mort en 48H, ou encore ATILIO GERANT du bougainvillier à Nianing terrassé en 48H par un faciporium rapatrié en allemagne,aujourdhui,cerveau atteint et paralysé sur un fauteuil roulant.UN PALU mal traité,mal décelé et mal soigné,devient un NEURO PALU,un Palu touchant le cerveau.En medecine on appelle cela des faits,et jamais en medecine l'exeption ne fait regle.


A c t u a l i t é s :

La prise en charge d'un paludisme grave chez l'adulte et chez l'enfant est une urgence.
Tout paludisme grave doit être hospitalisé en réanimation

Musique : The White Massai de Niki REISER : The Malaria / achetée sur VIRGINMEGA.FR

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