I thought I was going to die.

As you will know if you read yesterday’s blog post, I have the Corona Virus! Fortunately, I am recovery well and I have had nothing more than a minor flu with a sore throat. While Covid-19 might not have been a big deal for me, it got me thinking about the time I was seriously ill. In fact, I was so sick that I thought I was going to die.

I had Dengue Fever

For those not familiar with it, Dengue Fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection and may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Typically, people infected with dengue virus are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms. Others have more severe illness, and in a small proportion it is life-threatening. I will tell you about my experience with Dengue Fever and then you can decide for yourself in which one of those categories I fall into.

I was living in Thailand in 2018 when I got Dengue Fever. A friend was visiting me from Singapore, and we decided to do a hike together up Doi Suthep Mountain in Chiang Mai. While hiking up the mountain, mosquitoes were biting me all over my legs. As you can probably guess, a few days later I developed my first symptoms of Dengue Fever. The problem is that at the time I had never even heard of Dengue Fever. I had no idea what was wrong with me or what I should do about it. Also, I was quickly running out of cash and doing my very best to stay in Thailand for as long as possible. I was hoping at the time to get a job in Thailand or find a way to make money online, so that I would not have to leave. Because of my financial situation, I decided it is better to not visit a doctor. Looking back, I can not believe how stupid I was.

I suffered with Dengue Fever for 5 days. It is to date the sickest I have ever been and the only time I have ever truthfully thought I was going to die. While I had Dengue, I went through periods of extremely high fever over and over again. I can not tell you how long the high fevers lasted, because I can not remember. If I were to guess I would say maybe 30 mins to an hour at a time. During this time it was hell. Afterwards, during what I call the “off” periods, I felt completely exhausted and as if I have a very bad flu. I slept and ate during this time. My sleep was then ended by another 30 mins to an hour of hell. I kept telling myself after the high fever ended that I have made it. “I think I am over the worse” I told myself. I seriously feel embarrassed writing this, because I do not know what state of mind I was in. Any reasonable person would have swallowed their pride and visited the doctor after the first day. I lasted 5 days. The night of the 4th day was the worse and on the morning of the 5th day I went to the doctor.

Now for some (actually a lot of) irony…

When I finally cracked and went to the doctor on day 5, I went during one of the “off” periods. By the time I walked into the doctors office I was feeling better than I had since my symptoms began. The doctor did her tests, told me she is convinced I have Dengue Fever (which I learnt about for the first time) and took my temperature. 41.5 C! She looked at me in shock and said “Are you okay?” I laughed and said that I am feeling much better than I did the night before. I dread thinking what my temperature was while crawled up on my bed in a pile of sweat only a few hours prior.

The doctor prescribed me Paracetamol. That was it! I could not believe it. All I needed was Paracetamol to bring down the fever. I felt even more like an idiot. I could have walked to the pharmacy across the road and picked it up on Day 1, without a script. It would have made life so much easier. Finally, just to add insult to injury, I did not have another high fever after seeing the doctor. I went through 5 days of hell, only to spend the exact same amount of money at the doctor’s office on Day 5 that I would have spent on Day 1, AND my Dengue Fever was over! I think I took one tablet of Paracetamol, just for the sake of taking it.

The after effects of Dengue Fever:

For at least a month after having Dengue Fever I felt tired. All I wanted to do was sleep. I tried to start training again on my bicycle, but every workout was a miserable failure. The thing with Dengue is it can result in a drop in your white blood cell and platelet counts. The normal platelet count in the body ranges from 1.5 to 4 lacs, and this can go down to as low as 20,000 to 40,000 in the case of dengue patients. That would explain why I felt like a sack of dead potatoes for so long afterwards. When I eventually got my full health and vitality back I did not take it for granted. I also learnt that sometimes it is better to swallow your pride and go to the doctor when you are sick. Needless to say, I learnt that the hard way!

Could I actually have died?

I am not sure. I know that a lot of people do die from Dengue Fever. Just last week I met someone who told me a good friend of his died from it. Also, it is strongly recommended to seek medical help once your fever reaches 39.4 C or higher. Mine was 41.5 C when the doctor tested it and that was when I was feeling much better.

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