We got hit by the chickenpox and the Dakar Plague this past week. If you’re not familiar with this particular plague, two pieces of advice: don’t ask for details and wash your hands all day long.

Here in Dakar we have this wonderful service called SOS Médecin which is basically doctors who do house calls 24/7. Let’s just say that we scored a few more punches on our frequent users card this weekend…

When doctor #2 came at 10pm on Saturday, she started asking me what kinds of medications I had on hand in our petite pharmacie. I had a hard time answering her questions, even though I knew what was in our massive medicine cabinet for the most part. The problem was that most of the medications are from the US, so not necessarily brands or formulas she would recommend. For example, Pedialyte in America comes in grape flavor liquid. Here you mix up a chalky nasty fizzy powder in water. (Can you tell I’m partial to the American version on this one?)

Definitely got the 'chickenspots'. That red stuff is the French version of Calamine lotion and it stains your skin red for a couple days. Lovely.
Definitely got the ‘chickenspots’. That red stuff is the French version of Calamine lotion and it stains your skin red for a couple days. Lovely.

When she saw I was having a hard time listing what I had that might work, she started suggesting things. “Do you have Vogalene in lyoc?” Umm… I’ve heard of Vogalene, but no idea what ‘in lyoc’ is. Turns out it’s a dissolvable that goes under your tongue. “What about suppositories? Which ones do you have?” Umm… I’m American. We don’t do suppositories. (This one is always a shocker to the doctors.) “Okay, well would you rather have the injection?” Umm, yeah!

Anyway, she was very patient and kind and it got to be kind of funny that we were very obviously speaking a different language when it came to medications and supplies. At the end of the conversation, she suggested that once I felt better I should go buy a few things to round out my petite pharmacie. I asked her what she’d recommend, but to be honest I tuned her out when the list started with a suppository.

Today we are feeling much better, just moving a little slowly. (Well, the adults are moving slowly. The kids seem to be going double speed.) My Senegalese friend called to check on us and when I told her we’d all had a stomach bug she kindly offered to make one of her favorite recovery remedies: fish soup.

To each culture its own!

Quick Tips

SOS Médecin: 33 889 1515

Dakar Plague’s nemesis: Vogalene in whichever formula you can tolerate + Gatorade from the American Food Store in Les Almadies

Sen Express: 77 615 1313. They will go to the pharmacy/store to pick up what you need and deliver it to you. Costs 3000cfa per errand.