Rich Galen

I don't have malaria.

If you are going to spend much time in Africa, you will be taking anti-malaria pills. A common medication has the brand name Malarone. The typical course is to start the Malarone a day or two before you get to a malaria-infested area, take a pill a day while you're there, and continue for a week or so when you get back.

I'm telling you all that because at about 12:15 pm on Monday - 24 hours after I returned from my trip to Africa with the ONE campaign - I felt chilled while sitting at my desk in downtown Washington, DC. That became modest shivering, which became intense shivering, which made me suspect I had malaria.

I know that the incubation period is generally longer than 7-8 days, but I can't remember the last time I had a high enough fever to produce that kind of shivering. And I didn't have a fever.

Chills is always the first or second symptom of malaria. It alternates with "fever" depending upon the web site.

I got so cold that I grabbed a winter sport jacket from the back of my door that I hadn't yet brought home and put it on. Then I went down to my car and drove to George Washington University Hospital which is not far away.

I wasn't sure where I had the best shot at finding someone who would know what to look for. Walter Reed at the Bethesda Medical Center would be the obvious choice but as a card-carrying civilian I don't have any way to get in.

So, it was off to GW. By the time I signed into the emergency room the symptoms - if that what they were - had abated.

Hospital waiting rooms operating on a triage system. If you are a 66-year-old White guy and complain of chest pains you will be ushered right in. The danger is, if you use that as a dodge to jump the line, you run the real risk of God saying, "Oh, yeah? Watch this."

Not a good idea.

Also if you have blood coming out of your body from just about anywhere, they will see you right away.

As I found out "Suspected malaria" (which is not a communicable disease), will put you as far back on the triage list as you can get. Like to July.

But, I was there and I had my iPad with the new John LaCarre novel on the Kindle app, so I settled back and waited. My wife, despite my protestations, came over and sat for about an hour until I convinced her I was not in any immediate danger.

At about 3:30 I was ushered into the emergency room proper. At about 4 PM a doc came to talk to me. At about five another doc came to chat. A half hour later a tech took three vials of blood.

At eight another tech came in and took three more vials of blood.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at