I started taking Mefloquine. Three weeks before we departed for post. Mefloquine isn't generally recommended for those who have suffered from depression in the past, but it is the only anti-malarial safe for pregnancy, and this time last year we'd fully intended that I'd be pregnant.
Until we got here.
One look at the haze of the Harmattan and I couldn't bear the thought of bringing a baby back to Abuja. I absolutely believe in a woman's right to choose when it's the right time for her to become a mother, so I respect the many people who have added to their families here, but I knew this wasn't where I wanted to start mine.
I thought I'd stick with the Mefloquine anyways since it was the easiest option. It's offered free through the med unit and you only have to take it once a week.
That lasted for about two months. At the time I was pretty sure it was exacerbating my depression, but looking back on all that we were going through at the time: an international move to a dangerous, third-world country, away from our family and friends and Target, and with it the culture shock of a new home, a new country, a new job and new friends, I'm wondering if maybe it wasn't the Mefloquine that was making me blue.
So back in early March I switched to Doxycycline. Doxycycline is an antibiotic, and while it doesn't cause the crazy dreams or shit-for-sleep that Mefloquine does, it does cause some killer nausea, especially if you're already prone to motion sickness. Also, from my completely unscientific research, I deduced that it's generally recommended not to take antibiotics for more than six months consecutively since they kill everything in your system - the good bacteria with the bad bacteria. And if the sales numbers of Traditional Medicinal's Smooth Move Herbal Tea are any indicator, you'd see a spike between March and four days ago.
Finally on Friday I decided that I was sick of feeling sick every single day. I ran out of another box of the tea and I figured I'm already depressed this holiday season, so WTF, I'm going back to the Mefloquine.
There is a third option. While the med unit will write you a prescription for Malarone, they don't keep it on hand, and you have to come out of pocket to pay for this drug. I first attempted my foray into Malarone in June, but for some reason the insurance company had my birth date wrong and no one at Coventry felt the need to tell me my prescription couldn't be filled. So I wait the six weeks I'm told it will take for the prescription to be filled and mailed to me and nothing.
After too much time on hold with Coventry, I thought I got my birth date changed. The patient people in the med unit resubmitted the prescription, patient little me waits six more weeks and still nothing. The idiots at Coventry couldn't figure out how to change my birth date the first time I sat on hold and so I had to call them. Again.
Finally this time it appears the monkeys Coventry hired have learned how to differentiate between a 3 and a 4 on the keyboard. So the med unit submits the prescription again and Coventry denies the claim.
Can you tell my why it was so freaking important that you had my birth date correct if you were going to deny the claim anyway?
At this point it's November. I see the claim is denied and I assume that means I should be getting the prescription and a bill.
Last week I got a letter in the mail. I have to provide payment information before I can get my prescription.
So tonight, after I finally get through to a human being who WON'T STOP TALKING, I give her my credit card number and she tells me how much this prescription for the malady that exists in the country where we live because of my husband's employer, who will only pay for the cheap drugs that have shitty side-effects, is going to cost me every three months.
So you choose. Malaria; depression, nightmares, inability to fall into a deep sleep; nausea, intense heartburn, complete and utter irregularity; or $479 every three months.
Merry Freaking Christmas.