Malaria Mythbusters – The Malerone Dream Experiment

Travelling for work and play has become pretty much second nature for me. Every trip back to work or while on R&R being is yet another opportunity for some adventure and, with any luck misadventure as well. From the first day I became a tradesman I was off to work in remote eastern central Queensland and have had the adventure bug ever since.

So, when I was told I was off to PNG ro work for a few months I jumped at the chance!!

I’ve lost count of the vaccination needles, blood tests and boosters I needed for my work visa application; which at times reminded me of sitting in a dark clinic in the back streets of SoHo getting jabbed up for my travels through North Africa and the Middle East…ah simpler times when hunting down the cheapest backpackers clinic with no Google for help was an actual thing.

So, back on topic. When I left the doctor’s office for the last time I was handed a script for Malarone, my barrier to malaria and apparently my new best friend. So with prescription filled and visa stamped I was off, soon on site and settling in to my new surroundings.

On my third day one of the lead engineers said to me “so how’s the malaria meds going for you, sleeping ok”. I didn’t think too much of it as I was told that the malaria meds had a few side effects, mine seemed to be constant headaches, so just told him I was sleeping fine and dealing with the sore melon.

I didn’t think much about that conversation until I woke up early the following morning, heart racing and looking around to make sure I was actually awake and in the camp. I had never had such a vivid, re-countable, long dream in my life. I could remember every bit of it like I had just walked out of the cinema.

It was violent, graphic, action packed, fast paced, borderline horrific and in some parts down right disturbing!! I could liken it to Tarantino, Rob Zombie and the Cohen Brothers dropping a bunch of acid and casting me in their next cult classic. I had just had a glimpse of what being Chev Chelios, Lucus Hood and Vincent Vaga…all at once, would actually be like.

Every person in it was someone I knew or had meet at some stage of my life. And not just their faces, actually them! Names, conversations, where I knew them from, things we spoke about…everything. People I haven’t thought of, let alone seen for over 30 years were trying to shoot me, run me down in trucks, pulling me from car wrecks, running beatnik burlesque tattoo parlours, selling me sniper rifles, serving me shots of tequila, water boarding me and being killed by my hands…yep, that was the horrific stuff.

But not only the people, the places and objects were all familiar. All the cars and bikes were ones I’d owned, driven or ridden. The houses, shops, bars, roads, clubs, alleys, were all ones I’d been to, walked down, driven on or woken up in at some stage in my life.

Anyways I was awake, wide awake and once I came to my senses all I wanted to do was get back to sleep!! All I could think about was needing to keep trying to track down my kid’s prep teacher who drained my bank account when I paid for a quick tattoo she did for me…a bright yellow skull and cross bones with a rose stem in its mouth on the sole of my right foot. Go figure that one out.

The next day was research day. I found out that while Malarone is definitely one of the safest and most effective malaria drugs, it also has many side effects. Turns out I am 1 of the approx 8% of people to be susceptible to this particle side effect…the dreams. There was a lot of imperial and anecdotal evidence that the structure of my dreams is consistent with those of other Malerone users. Vivid, violent, familiar characters / places and most of all…memorable.

So that afternoon whilst chatting about my midnight adventures to a colleague, a song come on the radio. It sounded kind of like Bob Marley on helium at double speed and I commented something like “I hope this isn’t in my dream tonight”. So seemingly my subconscious grabbed that statement with the song and sure enough, that night in my dream set in a Mad Max kind of environment and story, in a roadhouse was a reggae band playing something very similar and just as annoying.

With this experience still fresh in my head, it was time to live out my dream job, if only for a few nights and become a Mythbuster. Yep I was about to start the Malerone Dream Manipulation Experiment. Could I really have an influence on what I was to dream about that night by consciously thinking about something before I went to bed? Well it was time to find out. Would it be confirmed….plausible or BUSTED!!!

That night I went through my playlist and found 4 songs. They were totally unrelated, about random things but specific enough that I could note them in a dream. The songs were:

1. Jesus Build my Hotrod – Ministry
2. Don’t take your guns to town son – Johnny Cash
3. Winona’s Big Brown Beaver – Primus
4. Jolene – The White Stripes

Well that morning I woke up and sure enough, clear as day it came back to me. I was running up a dark ally away from a bunch or skin heads chasing me, I ducked around a corner to see the Family Guy Jesus standing next to stunning rat rod and offering me the keys and telling me to “take it, take”. I found a note under the seat when I was looking for a gun with an address and written below the words Ask for Jolene.

I walked into the dark pub at the address, asked the waitress (who had flaming locks of auburn hair) for Jolene. She reached under the bar and gave me two boxes. I opened them and one was a raccoon whose collar tag said Rocky and the other…yep, a brown beaver whose tag said Property of Winona. Jolene looked up, handed me a glass of JD and said “find Winona”.

Right at the end of the dream after dumping the car I was walking along a river bank and a cowboy walking the other way passed me full of bullet holes. I asked if he was OK and he turned to me, face still shadowed by the street lamps above and whispered…”Listen to you mum kid, she is always right. Never take your guns to town, leave your guns at home.” Then he fell over, dead in front of me.

After waking in the morning and pondering this for a while, I wasn’t calling this confirmed just yet. I could have been coincidence right so the next afternoon I decided to make it interesting and started to sway chat on the way home from site about the adult film industry. All 3 of my passengers were a more than willing participant.

It lasted for most of the trip so thought this should be plenty of prompting and yep…that was some dream alright but want to keep the PG rating so will leave it at that.

The next night I googled philosophy, in the hope of receiving some wisdom to take wake up with. This came in spades that night but nothing I really hadn’t heard before but do remember thinking it was kinda fun meeting people from previous lives and them telling me some cool stuff.

But then the turning point came for me as I stumbled across one of my old bosses from recent times who in the dream was a homeless man begging for change. As a walked past throwing some money in his hat, he lifted his head and I recognised him immediately…and he me.

He rambled to me a lot of things that were very hard to hear and remember trying to wake myself up because he held my jacket tightly not letting me run away. I woke up that night and for the first time I didn’t want to go back to sleep… so stared at the ceiling, pondering for 3 hours.

It was then I called the myth CONFIRMED and officially stopped my experiment. I came to understand that my subconscious is a space that I really don’t want to be in and know too much about…not that quickly anyway.

So Malarone, this is what it did for me. If you ever venture to a malaria prone country, I hope you are in my 8% of the population as the dreams were fun and exciting – something different and a pretty awesome window into another part of yourself.

I’ll continue to take it as the alternative is much worse but have come to accept that I’ll deal with the dreams as they come and not try and manipulate something that I cannot control. But…given the effects it had on my mind, I really don’t want to know what effects if has on other parts of my body…eeks.

So…until the next installment, keep safe and #stayconnected 🙂


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