Malaria – 1 Sentell – 0

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My look after suffering with Malaria for the past two weeks.

I don’t know which is worst about living on the African Continent; falling ill with Malaria or traveling on this continent by air. Obviously, you can sense another complaint directed at one of the African airlines because we all know that falling ill with Malaria is worst…I can now officially attest to that fact. Last week, I was informed by the doctor that the past two weeks of fatigue and exhaustion was not a result of my 14 hour work days but Malaria. While I did need rest, most importantly, I needed anti-Malaria medication. We will return to my Malaria diagnosis later in the blog but instead back to my rant about Ethiopian Airlines.

Sheila came to visit me this weekend. While I would admit we purchased the ticket at the last minute, everything initially seemed to go smoothly. I was able to track her trip from Kigali to Abuja and the flight actually arrived on time. However, after I dropped her off at the airport on Monday for her return trip, I decided to track her flight from Abuja to Kigali so I could keep her brother informed of her travel plans. I was unable to locate the flight on any travel websites. I then became concerned that I had dropped her off at the airport on the wrong day and she would be stranded at Abuja’s lack luster international airport. So I decided to consult her itinerary.

What I discovered was that Ethiopian Airlines had changed her travel plans with absolutely no notice. Instead of departing at 1:40pm for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she was scheduled to depart at 1:00pm for N’Djamena, Chad then on to Addis Ababa. Her goal was to catch a connecting flight to Kigali. Well, I think you know where this story is heading. Thanks to Ethiopian’s lack of customer service and desire to treat travelers as cargo and not passengers, she missed her connecting flight to Kigali and had to spend the night in Addis Ababa. I think my biggest frustration is the treatment of airline passengers by some African carriers. If you are comparing American carriers to Middle East carriers like Emirates and Qatar, then yes, flying on an American carrier is like riding a bus but if you are looking at customer service and passenger rights, American airlines run circles around African carriers.  If I complain to an American carrier (and I often have), I have always received some form of compensation. My international complaints have fallen on deaf ears here in Africa. I recognize that sometimes airlines changes routes, but you have to give your customers some heads up. I once received a call from Delta telling me that they had to cancel my flight and was rescheduling me on a later flight. While not happy about the change, I appreciate the call and update. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I just want to be treated like a paying customer and not cargo. I think I have done a very good job of settling into my life here on the continent but I still find myself frustrated by air travel…I will keep praying for patience and strength in this process. 🙂

Back to Malaria…my luck ran out and I was recently diagnosis with a bout of Malaria. For those of you not familiar with living in hot and humid climates with the threat of tropical diseases, Malaria is like getting the flu. For some, the flu can be life threating, for others, it’s just an unpleasant state of being for a week or two. And that has been my last three weeks…an uncomfortable feeling of being fatigued and exhausted. It wasn’t until last Wednesday that it hit me and boy did it hit me. Although I went to work, I felt horrible. I had trouble using my eyeglasses, my gums hurt and I had no desire to eat. On Thursday, my colleague suggested I go to the clinic to run a Malaria test. At first, my response was, “I’m just tired. I just need a full night’s rest.” On Friday, I was in a fog and the body just didn’t feel right. So my colleague told me that she would take to me to the clinic to have my blood tested for Malaria. I would admit, I was concerned about the state of the Nigerian health care system, but I was pleasantly surprised. While it took an overnight to get my test results, I was informed that I was exhausted because I had Malaria. So the doctor put me on medication and now I am “hopefully” on the road to recovery. At least Sheila was here to cater to my every need…

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My “nurse” who came to my rescue in my time of sickness…we had a great time exploring Nigeria’s Millennium Park.

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