I’m 4 days into having malaria.
Last Monday at 7.30am all 9 of us guinea-pigs got picked up outside Southampton General Hospital and driven in a really fancy minibus to London. I never thought I’d watch Skyfall pre-8am ever but I did woo. We got free sweets too, but they tasted like medicine 3:
None of us were allowed to
Because apparently mosquitoes are really picky about what/who they bite. They must like ‘em smelly.
When we got to the Imperial College’s medicine faculty we got to meet some of the other study-doers from Oxford, but they were all emerged in their books and essays so us Southerners messed around while we waited to be called in.
WE ALSO GOT MARKS AND SPENCER LUNCH. FOR FREE. I KNOW RIGHT. We got like fresh juice, punnets of fruit, crisps, those tubs of cake, and sandwich platters. I was loving life. You could tell who was a student because we ate as much as we possibly could and one of my friends doing a masters had stuffed 4 litres of fresh OJ into his rucksack haha.
People were asked in to the mosquito room one at a time, and there’d be up to 4 people in this tiny room at any given time. You’d think they’d inject the malaria into us, but no; we were given a cardboard espresso cup with a bit of mesh over it, secured by a rubber band. Inside were 5 infected mosquitoes, all ready to bite. The doctor breathed into the cup to ‘excite’ them (mosquitoes like CO2) and then we pushed the cups onto our arms. Once the mosquitoes have bitten, the people in the room next door ‘euthanise’ them and look at their blood to see if they’ve taken and infected our blood.
The aim of the game was to get 5 successful malaria-infected bites. Some people got all 5 in 10 minutes, but it took me 5 cups of mosquitoes to get enough proper bites :( I was in there for an hour and missed my new friends’ trip to the Natural History Museum next door to look at the giant whale.
^ Ma bites
We got given Anthisari cream to relieve itchiness, a card saying we’re now infected with malaria, and a sheet of details about where we’ll be staying next week and the week after. We’re being put in 4 star student accommodation in Oxford and we get free WiFi, breakfast, dinner, and free-view TV! We’ve already planned an malaria-themed party and I’ve shotgunned going as a blood pressure machine and just hugging people really tightly. We’ve also agreed to watch all of Breaking Bad together and we’ve allocated 4 hours of communal TV watching a day.
Oh, and I got my first cash-installment of about £500 (people in group 1 get more cash because they’ve had more vaccines). Next lump sum’s after Oxford mm. Christmas shopping galore.
Hey guys, major progress. I had my second vaccine against malaria today (out of 3) and everything hurts. I’m currently in bed shivering with multiple jumpers and a woolly hat. Bring me hot drinks asap.
All in all it’s been a bad day. Fell asleep in a lecture, the hospital gave me an animal sticker then took it off immediately just as I was learning what all the different animals were, and my spinach and ricotta cannelloni went weird in the microwave.
Thankfully I took a photo before they tore it from me. As you can see, I have a hot dog and a rooster on my arm. I thought the bug was a mosquito; alas.
My really cool wristband.
It’s a big day for me. I have an interview with a man who writes for The Mental Elf, a really cool and informative magazine which looks into psychological and biological research. It’s at 1. I’m really excited about malaria research being given more national coverage. In 2010, malaria caused an around 660,000 deaths and with more participants in clinical trials like these we can get closer and closer to a sustainable and affordable cure for the disease.
I just gave about 10 test tubes of blood to the Hospital and feel drunk so anything I write may/may not be factually inaccurate.
I’m Claire Joines and this is my blog all about me getting malaria voluntarily. Why, you ask? Well, well well. I was scrolling around Southampton University’s website and stumbled upon the NHS advertising for participants in the ‘Malaria Challenge’. I like a challenge. I also like money. This seemed like the perfect crime. And by crime I mean opportunity.
My dream when I grow up is to be a super Graphic Designer and Illustrator, but I chose the wrong degree so now I’m at Soton doing BA English and Philosophy in my final year.
Here is a giraffstrich licking an apple:
When I leave I want to go to London and do a MA in Illustration, but it costs a bomb (£5,700). Hopefully this trail will help me out financially. If I survive, that is. (I will survive, don’t worry. The vaccination I’ve been given has been tested on 11,000 babies and children. Worldwide over 1300 people have been deliberately infected with malaria and all have made a complete recovery.)
UNTIL NEXT TIME, FOLKS.