02 March 2015

let's talk about my bladder.

It's cropped up a few times on our blog, but let's just say it: health has been an issue since setting foot in Mwanza, Tanzania. The scorecard is not pretty. Mwanza is dominating.

we are not proud of this.

But this is not a pity post. This can hardly even be called a blog post. It's just a direct reproduction of an actual conversation I recently had with a Tanzanian in a hospital (in English, mind you). And it was very confusing.

Scene: Michael, an American, entering a Tanzanian hospital for the first time to get an ultrasound. Michael knocks on the unmarked door, and enters.

Me: Hi, how are you?

Tanzanian: (silence)

Me: (hand over my paperwork)

Tanzanian: Did you take water?

Me: Sorry?

Tanzanian: Did you take water?

Me: Uh...I drank water today. Is that what you mean?

Tanzanian: You took water?

Me: Was I not supposed to drink water?

Tanzanian: But are you full?

Me: I don't understand. Are we talking about water or food?

Tanzanian: Is it full?

Me: Is what full?

Tanzanian: You took water?

Me: I drank water today, yes.

Tanzanian: But is it full?

Me: I still don't understand.

Tanzanian: The bladder. Is it full?

Me: Oh my bladder. Well I don't have to go to the bathroom if that's what you're getting at.

Tanzanian: It needs to be full.

Me: I didn't know that. But I have a water bottle with me. Two actually. I can drink all of this right now.

Tanzanian: But how long until it's full? Maybe 15 minutes? Or do you think two hours?

Me: Are you asking how long it will take me to finish this water? Because I can finish it in just a few minutes.

Tanzanian: When will it be full?

Me: I'm sorry. What are we talking about?

Tanzanian: Come tomorrow. I need to dress my foot. (Points to mangled, bandaged foot below the table).

Me: Oh my goodness.

Tanzanian: You see? Come tomorrow.

Me: What happened?

Tanzanian: I was attacked by bandits.

Me: What?

Tanzanian: So come tomorrow.

Me: Okay, well I am here now in your office and I am still not sure what I am supposed to do.

Tanzanian: The bladder. It has to be full.

Me: So I need to come back tomorrow with my bladder full of water, like I have to urinate.

Tanzanian: You understand?

Me: No. What does any of this have to do with my bladder? Why are we talking about my bladder? I am not here for my bladder or a urine test.

Tanzanian: You will come back tomorrow.

Needless to say, I decided it best to come back tomorrow. Mwanza, you win again.


  1. Oh my gosh, Michael. I would go insane. I'm really sorry about this.

    Have you actually had malaria four times? Was it just as bad each time?

    1. Unfortunately the above scorecard is correct. Five for me and three for Ashley. About the same each time but supposedly our bodies are building up for immunity.

  2. Just to let you know, I showed this to Rachel and we were both laughing hysterically as we read through it again (I've done this with other posts in the past, such as getting the electricity set up). Especially the part about the bandits. The whole thing reminded me of the "Is it safe?" scene in the movie Marathon Man, if you've ever seen it (warning though, it's depressing).

    Hang in there.


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