Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lariam dreams

Oh man, I have never felt anything like this.
We took our first Lariam pill at lunchtime on Friday. Everything was hunky dory until about midnight. I fell into a deep sleep much more quickly than usual and immediately started having very intense dreams. They became nightmares and I looked at the clock a few times only to see that time was passing v...e...r...y slowly and each time I went back to sleep the dreams got worse.

In one dream, I woke up to find horrific things going on in the house. There were black rats and birds with bleeding eyes coming into the house through cracks in the floorboards and above the windows. I have no problem with rats but in this dream I felt real fear. But even worse than seeing these horrible images were the feelings I was experiencing. I had no control over my mind or my body. I was angry and upset, I was flailing about and hitting the walls and floor and trying to scream but without making a sound. All the while, people, including Steve and Caitlin, were standing around me seemingly unaware of what was going on. In another dream I went to my doctor and said "get this drug out of me!" and she inserted a giant needle with a hose attached into my stomach and stuff started pumping through it and onto the floor, emptying my body of fluids from my toes up and I was rolling around the floor in agony.

Wake up... At about 3 am there was a noise coming from the hallway but I was too scared to get out of bed. I felt really extreme fear, something I rarely experience so it was all the more intense. I seriously expected to be attacked by a monster under the bed as soon as I put my foot on the floor so I just froze and waited while Steve went to check.

The dreams continued and for the next few hours I was in a weird state of wakeful sleepiness, sometimes asleep but dreaming I was awake... All things I have had before but not with the same level of anxiety. At one point I turned to Steve and said "I'm not taking that drug again!"

In the morning I felt awful. I was shaking, my legs and arms felt like jelly, probably all down to the adrenaline as it was not unlike after my first skydiving freefall and bungee jump. I felt totally out of it too, my mind was just mush, as Steve would say. When I saw Brendan and Tadhg sleeping peacefully I started crying and feeling terrible guilt for having given the same drug to them. I watched both of them for any sign that they were experiencing the same thing as me but they were fine.

I was back to normal by mid-morning but Steve continued to take the piss for the rest of day, explaining my fast walking pace at the market on the fact that I believed I was being chased by a buffalo, reminding me that the baby carrier was not a parachute and I should therefore not attempt to jump out of the window and warning me that there might a lion lurking around every corner... bla bla bla... oh it's just Alma and Bill, our cats. Very funny.

If anyone is wondering why we chose Lariam, it's for a few reasons. Of the drugs that are effective in West Africa, only two are suitable for children, Malarone and Lariam. Malarone is not okay for Tadhg as he's too small. Lariam only has to be taken once a week, whereas Malarone must be taken every day at the same time and I figured that we could do without that stress on a daily basis with Brendan. Also, there is evidence that it's extremely rare for young children to experience the psychological side effects of Lariam. (How this can be I have no idea) Steve and I have both taken Lariam before without any problems. And lastly, Malarone is about 5 times the price of Lariam, not insignificant when you are saving for a trip of a lifetime.

We have the option to get malarone for Brendan and for Steve and I to swap drugs, pending what the doctor says about breastfeeding and malarone on Monday. Or we can stick with it for now and see what happens next week. So the situation remains fluid.

Other news... Caitlin and Billy are now flying directly in to Dakar just a couple of hours before us. Caitlin's bouts of swine flu and shingles meant they had to abandon their plans to go overland but her blisters are now scabbing over and she'll be okay to fly by Thursday. Billy has survived his first Lariam drugging without any difficulty. Jo heads to Madrid on Tuesday? and then we all arrive in Dakar within a few hours of each other. So Paddy will probably just hang out at the airport for the night till he has gathered us all together. Can't wait!!

Only 3 more sleeps, 2 exams and a corn boil till we're off. Wish Steve luck in his exams. We're heading out this afternoon for a few hours without him to give him some peace to study.

1 comment:

Serena said...

Hello, I found your blog very informative, as I myself am traveling to India and thinking about malaria pills to take. These dreams sound horrifying and quite the damper on a vacation. I guess Lariam will be ruled out since my dreams are already too vivid at times, I don't need more vivid nightmares !