Saturday, August 16, 2008

Malarone: A Comedy of Terrors

Ten years ago when I was traveling in the jungles of Ecuador, I took Lariam (an anti-malarial), and I might as well have been dropping acid before bedtime. And after about five days, I decided to chance it with the mosquitos - the nightmares were too scary, and I was markedly not myself during the day. The one dream I remember: I was dragged into the amazon and eaten by a giant anaconda.

I suspected I would have a response to Malarone, the anti-malarial I'm taking now. And I almost didn't get the prescription. But, its more advanced, and the idea of having to truck it five hours to Saigon, suffering from severe fever and exploding red blood cells, through a country where I dont speak the language, was enough to convince me.

So, now Im having "vivid dreams" every night.

They range from "weird" to "terrifying," but in general: If Lariam affects my brain like acid, Malarone is like eating a lot of cheese before going to bed. I normally have vivid dreams, and remember them on waking up, but this is a strange step beyond.

First, the snakes are back. Despite the fact that I grew up in snake country, I am terrified of of them. Just snakes. I actually like spiders and other scary creepy crawlies. Now, I dream about snakes every other night, but they are usually brightly colored, benign, chubby little snakes. I am usually subduing them in some way thats totally unnecessary, causing them to freak out and in their tiny way. Hmph.

Then there are the "Whats going on in my room" dreams: The night I put up my mosquito net was also a night I was feeling lonesome for my Stanford friends who have been interning outside the bay area this summer. I dreamt that about 20 of my friends were sedated and put in big metal boxes, to sleep for a year. Some were fine, others had horrible experiences. I was completely freaked out all day. (It took about 24 hours to realize that my mosquito net forms a fabric box).

Also, I have never had dreams before that had real tactile sensations, and now its common: I tuck myself in, and kind of half-ass it with the corners of the mosquito net, but determine its enough to keep the cockroaches out. About half an hour after i fall asleep, I feel something chomp my big toe. I shriek, jump up, and start wielding a broom, trying to hunt down the critter that bit me - probably a rat. I shake out all the bedding, make and unmake the bed, and then I realize, Theres no bite mark. And there wasnt a big enough hole my mosquito net to let a chomping critter in. Aha... and remarkably I'm able to sleep after this.

So today there was discussion of my stopping the drug, but Im going to stick with it. In two weeks, I've had only one really terrifying nightmare, and I am still a long way from an english-speaking doctor. Plus, now that I can see how its amplifying my subconscious, its sort of amusing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

really liked it. I'm on malarone myself in and I'm really considering keeping a journal about my dreams.