In preparation for my trip to Kenya with ONE, I was required to take anti-malarial medication (although, I suppose "required" is strong. More accurate: I chose to take anti-malarials over the possibility, however remote, of catching malaria and risking death). I've only ever taken anti-malarials once before: about 10 years ago, for a trip to Nigeria for work. Back then, the most common anti-malarial to take was Lariam, but rumours around the office were that Lariam had some nasty side effects, most notably the tendency for vivid dreams, to the point of making some people who took it suicidal and/or homicidal. Even worse, the side effects would linger, sometimes for months after the last dosage was taken.
"I dreamt for weeks of brutally murdering my wife," said one co-worker, who worked in the IT department. "Over ... and over ... and over again..."
I wasn't sure, but I think I saw a smile play around his lips when he said it.*
Needless to say, when I went to the travel clinic to get my dosage, and the clinician mentioned a brand new medicine named "Malarone" that didn't seem to have nearly the severe or lingering side effects of Lariam, I signed up without hesitation. I took the Malarone for my trip to Nigeria without incident.
So for this trip to Kenya, I had every intent on taking Malarone again. Even still, when I told friends about the need to take the medication, some said, "you're going to get really vivid dreams."
"Wait ... I thought that was Lariam," I'd say uneasily.
"Well, I took Malarone, and I got really weird dreams," some would insist. "Nothing too frightening. Just wild ones."
Nonetheless, when I went to the travel clinic this time, I asked the clinician to prescribe me Malarone. "Have you taken it before?" she asked.
"Yes, about 10 years ago."
"Any ... you know ... side effects?" she asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Uh ... no... should there have been?" I asked, worried.
"Oh, no, no," she responded quickly. "You should be fine." And she wrote the prescription.
I filled it, and again, I took the medicine without incident. And of course, I've been back from Kenya for about a month, my final dose of Malarone was about 3 weeks ago, and things have been fine.
During the last week or so, I've had a few crazy dreams. To wit:
- About 10 or so days ago, I had a dream that I was hired to take the portraits of people who lived at Buckingham Palace: royalty, staff, the works. While there, I became very good friends with Kate Middleton, who proceeded to give me all the skinny about what the Queen was really like, how Prince Philip was always in her business, how Prince Charles pretty much kept out of their way and how much she really loved William. By the time I left, we'd made plans to go clubbing.
In real life, Kate seems like a very nice young woman; however, I have never really had much of an interest in the British royal family. In fact, leading up to the wedding, I frustrated a good English friend of mine by exhibiting very little knowledge about Kate's dress or flowers, or really anything related to their nuptials. So for me to dream of Kate and I being clubbing partners (I mean, clubbing? Me?), is just bizarre.
- That very same night, I dreamt that I was invited (by whom, I don't remember) to visit a fundamentalist Christian church, where the entire congregation, including the minster, was dressed in pristine white robes. Furthermore, the entire interior of the church -- the ceiling, the floors, the pews, the carpets on the floors, the altar, the statues behind the altar -- was all white. In fact, the only colour in the whole church was featured on these huge, lush yellow drapes that hung at every stained glass window in the church (but the stained glass was actually stained white).
But this is not the weird part.
As soon as the service started, the minister didn't speak, he sang. And then the entire congregation began singing in unison as well, and dancing. Which of course, isn't strange, except everything was choreographed. They danced on the altar, on the pews, they ran in and out of the vibrant yellow drapes in perfect precision, like a Broadway show, or extras from Glee or Fame. There were high kicks and jazz hands. People began swinging from wires attached to the white flying buttresses, some people peek-a-boo'd from behind the large white statue of Jesus, and I think there was even one dude breakdancing near the white Virgin Mary. Since I was brought up in the Catholic church (that part actually is true), I stood there, mouth agape, watching the performance with a mixture of crushing admiration and mild terror.
I don't remember what they were singing.
- Finally, just two nights ago, I dreamt that I was traveling and sightseeing in ... wait for it ... Iraq, with my two "best friends": one was Rye Barcott (who, in real life, is the author of one of my favourite books I've read this year, and who I met only briefly in Nairobi), and the other was some unidentified woman, but who bore a striking resemblance to Salma Hayek. We were walking through Baghdad with our backpacks (as one does), and Rye decided to take a nap on a park bench. While my Salma-lookalike-friend and I were wandering around waiting for Rye to wake up, two armed officers appeared out of nowhere and arrested her for "inappropriate dress," dragged her screaming into a beat-up old police SUV and drove away (in the officers' defense, she was wearing a short-sleeved tight dress, and was not very well covered). I rushed to get Rye, and while we were trying to figure out how we were going to bust Salma-Lookalike-Girl out of the Iraqi jail, I woke up.
Marcus tells me this dream is because I had cheese for dinner the night before.
Now normally, I don't remember my dreams in the mornings, so for me to even remember these is rather odd. Furthermore, these dreams were vivid -- when I woke up from them, I was disoriented, wondering where I was and what happened and is Kate not going to call me, then? It could be lingering effects of Malarone, I suppose, but I sort of doubt it -- it's been a while since my last pill. Or it could be that I've got some deep-seated issues that are manifesting in my dreams. Who knows?
But I kind of hope they don't stop.
* I never asked him to fix my laptop again.
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If you're interested in participating in the Chookooloonks Path Finder, just a reminder that today is the last day to get early bird pricing, at US$ 55 -- after today, the course will be offered at its regular price of US$ 75. And registration for this early fall session (which starts Monday, September 5, 2011!) will close on Friday.
(Of course, I realize that by sharing with you the inner workings of my clearly disturbed mind, above, some of you might be scared off. Understandable, really -- but I promise I'm totally lucid when I'm awake.)
Image: Photographed on July 31, 2011, flying over Greenland while on my way back from Kenya, with my Nikon D200 and 17-50mm Tamron lens. aperture 7.1, shutter speed 1/1000, ISO 200.