THREE days ago, I went for my last blood draw at the hospital, and was finally given a clean bill of health from the doctor. I had finally recovered from dengue.
Dengue is a serious thing. A recent report in the Malay Mail showed that cases have continued to rise and that the number of fatalities had increased 163% from 63 deaths in the same period last year.
My dengue episode, although not critical, was nasty enough. It started when I woke up one morning with a terrible headache and pain behind my eyeballs, two Saturdays ago. Four Panadol tablets later, the headache and pain behind my eyes still did not dissipate. Feeling unusually tired, I went to bed in the afternoon, thinking that a nap would cure me. Unfortunately, I woke up with a burning fever that wouldn’t go away and chills I could not explain. Four more Panadol later, I still did not get any better. By the following day, my fever had exceeded 39 degrees. I went to the hospital and learnt that my blood pressure had dropped to 90/64. Surprisingly, I was not asked to take a blood test. Three days later, my fever subsided, but my appetite remained poor. My gums bled more than usual whenever I brushed my teeth, and I could not shake off the feeling that something was wrong. On a hunch, I decided to go to the hospital again to take a blood test. This was Day 5 since my fever bout began. Two hours later, the doctor called me with the awful news that I had dengue. The better news was that it wasn’t critical enough for me to be warded, but there was every likelihood of my condition worsening over the subsequent days.
I struck a deal with the doctor. In exchange of staying home (instead of getting admitted), I promised I would stay hydrated (more than 2L of water a day) and indoors, and check myself in, if I started vomiting, getting dizzy spells and severe abdominal pains. The trade-off also was to go to the hospital for daily blood draws until I started to demonstrate an upward trend in my blood count. For someone as frightened of needles as I am, this was torture. Still, it beat having a drip needle perpetually wedged in my vein.
The bout of dengue has left me with a real sense of paranoia: I have woken up in the middle of the night, every night for the past week worrying about mosquitoes. Today, every mosquito bite scares the hell out of me. Because, while it is true that you may develop immunity from the strain of dengue that you suffered from, you are not immunised from other strains of dengue. Also, the road to recovery is a long one. A quick trip to the supermarket to shop for groceries leaves me terribly tired. And writing a blog is exhausting, too. I have yet to regain my full strength and I daresay it will take me at least a month to become my strong self again. Imagine if my condition were more critical!
I’ve learnt a thing or two during my illness, and I’d like to share them here:
- Dengue can kill. If you suspect something is not right, or your fever does not go away, see the doctor immediately and get tested.
- There is NO medication for dengue. Staying hydrated and lots of bed rest are key, alongside constant monitoring of your condition.
- Papaya leaves DO NOT help with dengue. This was confirmed by the specialist doctor who attended to me. Most often, people administer blended raw papaya leaves as a last resort to dengue, when they no longer have any idea what else to do. This is normally close to the 7th or 8th day of dengue — when the body is, in fact, already starting to heal. Understandably, it would appear that raw, papaya leaf juice works when, actually, it is your body that is already naturally recovering. Trust me, I had my share of papaya leaf juice, and despite downing the vile tasting liquid, my platelet count continued to plummet for several days. #TrueStory
- Millennium cactus extract DOES NOT help with dengue either. It is also very expensive. I drank 1L of the extract over two days, which cost me RM560, and yet my platelet count continued to plunge steadily.
- Your platelet and white blood cell count (WBC) will continue to drop for about 7 to 8 days. After which, it will start to rise. Once your WBC goes up, you can be sure that it won’t be too long before your platelet count follows suit.
Stay healthy, peeps.