It must be one of the most trying and tiring times of my existence thus far. Dengue hurts. Spent a good time tossing and turning in bed. Every joint on my frail body was aching. Breakbone fever is an appropriate name. It wasn't going to be " that bad" so I thought in the beginning - I wasn't hospitalised.
It all began after a long day out with my girls, all 3 - we went to Kent Ridge Park, hiked our way to a picnic at Hort Park before heading to Vivocity for water play only to be interrupted by rain. We had dinner at Secret Recipe before cabbing home. The girls were good, no major incidents. They slept through the cab ride home. It was a day well spent.
I recalled my body aching bad when I got home, it must from carrying Rayyan a good part of the day. It grew into a fever, so I took some aspirin because we have aspirin at home. That was midnight.
The fever didn't subside. 1 more dose of aspirin in the early morning and I knew it wasn't just a fever. 8am, with a body febrile and aching, I made my way to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Mind you, it was sunday - a day before Chinese New Year.
The hospital was bare. It was one of those quiet mornings. I had noone in front of my queue. Temperature taken at the glass door was 39.1degC. That's hot.
The nurse triaging me was a friend, didn't take much to convince her that I knew I was having dengue. The doctor who I saw just 10 minutes after also agreed that it might be dengue but due to the recency of the fever, blood tests might show a false positive. But we took the blood tests and I waited for an hour, buying ribena at the hospital's 24h convenience store - my attending doctor shared his experience surviving dengue on isotonic drinks like ribena.
An hour later - the results came back. Dengue IgM Antibodies: negative but Dengue NS1 : positive. Test results conclusive of a fresh dengue infection. Platelets were still high but not my spirits. My discharge temperature: 38.1degC. One week of rest at home though termed "Hospitalisation Leave" was granted.
I collected my medicine - just paracetamol, maxolon (for vomiting) and famotidine (for gastric) - to be taken as I anticipate these classical symptoms of the dreaded disease. I lumbered my way to the ambulance bay, spoke to an old colleague, an ambulance driver masking my pain with smiles and small talk.
It was homeward bound then. The toughest 1 km walk I have had to make in recent times, maybe ever. I survived like I survived the next week, barely.
Would loved to have said that next few days went by like a breeze - more like a scorching hot gush of hail pounding on my body and head. I knew it was going to be painful but pain is not something you can truly anticipate without actually feeling it. Sleep at night was constantly interrupted by the sheer body aches determined to make me realise the immense havoc a minute virus transmitted to me by a flying insect can wreck.
I am humbled. well, a bit. I was also touched by the kind words of friends on social media and the kind gestures of family and friends at home and during blood tests. Common were suggestions of foods to take to alleviate my condition: papaya leaves, beetroot and the likes. My daily diet was isotonic drinks and coconut water - fuelled by a loss of appetite and the fear of vomiting out anything I consumed. Blood tests at the polyclinic and the hour-long wait become a routine - a quantitive method to chart my recovery progress. Symptoms were endured as much as they were anticipated but it didn't make them easy to bear. Lethargy has become chronic.
Twice the doctors wanted to refer me to the Emergency Department, twice I told them - I am doing alright and will watch my symptoms. My 2nd blood test had low platelet count but was higher by a wee bit from the benchmarked 50 x10^9 per litre of blood. 55 was enough to save me from a night's stay in the hospital. These are the times I am truly thankful that doctors do trust the words of a paramedic - especially because I was the patient. So, I went home right after each blood test and continue to rest or at least try to.
It was rather debilitating - I wasn't able to accomplish anything worthwhile save for just merely surviving the disease. The abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting were only aggravating the pathetic state of my weak disposition. Felt so useless and at times, it did get rather depressing. By day 4 - the fever has subsided and though I thought, it would get better, the rashes came.
Day 5 came the prickling sensation, urticaria and the swollen extremities, ushering the next phase of the disease. I wasn't prepared for it. The disease is almost designed to make one feel the most amount of discomfort via various means in the shortest amount of time.
By then, the blood tests has shown an upward trend of platelets and white blood cells. Data indicated that we were winning the battle but the war was far from over.
Yesterday was my last day of MC, today marks day 13. I still feel frail, far from 100% - whatever that maybe. Mobile messages remind me of the backlog of administrative work I have to get done. Life is back on play, maybe in slo-mo for the next few days / weeks.
I hoped to have been given some insight into life or living and attempted to think through my experience as I type these words but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I suffered and I endured. I survived dengue and life goes on.