My experience with dengue

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Recently, I had dengue.

It all started on Friday the 23rd November 2018, when I decided to dye my hair, in which I felt my muscles and joints were annoyingly painful and the back of my neck was killing me. The back of my eyes were also painful everytime I looked up.

I wrote off all the symptoms because I thought I was just too tired and it will go away after a short rest and massage. After dying my hair, I went for a massage since my neck was really killing me, and I had some time to spare before picking my daughter.

The moment the masseuses touched my body, she asked if I was having a fever?

I told her I wasn’t, but that didn’t stop her from saying my body was really hot. Her rough massage didn’t help.

By evening I’d come to the conclusion that I was actually sick as my head was pounding, the back of my neck was killing me, and my body was aching. Initially I assume that my body ache was from the bad massage, so I took two paracetamol tablets, and went to my annual staff dinner.

THE WORST FEVER I’VE EVER HAD

By 9:30PM, I could feel my body was warming up and my head was spinning again. For two tablets of 500mg Paracetamol, I really thought I could go through dinner but by 10PM, I just had to call it a night.

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Me at the staff annual dinner before the Paracetamol wore off.

I took a shower upon returning home and came out shivering like nobody’s business. It was so cold, I immediately put on my sweater, long pants and slept with socks. To reduce the fever, I also popped another two Paracetamol tablets. I also used a head patch (cool fever) to reduce my body temperature.

I slept that Friday night shivering and feeling really sick.

Come Saturday, the fever had not subsided as I was now shivering while getting massive headaches and body aches. I felt lightheaded and lost my appetite to eat. I couldn’t stand up for long, and decided to lie down for most of the day. Somehow my taste sensitivity increased as everything I wanted to eat or drink tasted extremely salty or sweet, and that made me feel nauseated. I ended up drinking a lot of plain water and eating one piece of biscuit when I can. Saturday was spent mostly on bed.

Sunday came, and I told my wife I couldn’t make it to the village as usual. I felt I needed to rest. I felt really weak I just wanted to sleep. By this time, I took my body temperature and it recorded 38.9 degrees. It was high. – A normal body temperature would be around 35 – 37 degrees.

Like the nights before, I was constantly thirsty. I kept waking up to drink because my throat was dry.

FEELING BETTER BUT…

Monday came and I was starting to feel better. My appetite to eat was still totally gone, and my back as well as the back of my neck was still killing me. I figured I was still feeling giddy because of these pain so I bought YokoYoko and ‘koyok’ to help with the pain. – It didn’t.

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Medication for the painful neck

I also noticed I looked flushed (red), but I thought it was just because of my hair colour.

On Tuesday, my wife suggested I go to my usual masseuse to help with the pain and so I set up an appointment.

The massage was good, but for some reason I couldn’t sleep during the whole massage. – That was a first because I usually doze off after 30 minutes into the two hour massage. I also could feel the rough hands of my masseuse. It was as if she had cut her fingers and was massaging me with her injured fingers. I’ve never had such sensation for any message before. It was weird.

After the message, I started to notice more rashes on my body.

NEVER GOOGLE YOUR SYMPTOMS

Googling symptoms is bad, and I did just that. This was the one time knowledge is definitely not power.

After getting the search results, I couldn’t sleep that Tuesday night due to anxiety. On Wednesday, I decided to go to a local clinic to get checked.

The doctor suspected I was down with dengue and was now in the recovery phase.

She asked me to go to the local hospital to get confirmation.

I went to Klinik Kesihatan Jalan Masjid which had me in and out within three hours with a “Seronegative dengue” diagnosis. According to the doctor, this technically meant the doctor suspected I had dengue, but my blood work had yet to show the needed dengue antibodies. She asked me to return after five days.

However, such inconclusiveness made me even more anxious. The rashes grew and by Thursday, my body was all red with rashes below.

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Rashes on my leg

Heeding my wife’s advice, I decided to go to Normah Medical Specialist Hospital, and they did some test.

While waiting for the test results, the doctor had me in a nearby room and a nurse administered some drips. This was my first time on a hospital bed because I am sick.

POSITIVE DENGUE

At about 3PM that same day, the doctor came to my bedside and confirmed I have dengue.

He told me that my white blood cells count were low, and my platelet count was borderline. He asked if I wanted to be admitted for monitoring purposes, adding that he could afford me such option since my platelet count wasn’t in the dangerous zone.

I opted to stay at home and was required to come back to the hospital in 48 hours for a follow up. According to the doctor, if my white blood cells and platelet count improves, I should be recovering and there’s no need to worry after that.

He gave me a piece of paper which had information about what I should do for the next few days.

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Notes from the hospital.

The doctor also informed me that he is notifying the Health Ministry about my situation so that measures can be taken to reduce others from being infected. – Just so you know, dengue spreads through mosquitoes.

FEELING BETTER, BUT STILL WEAK

So since that Thursday, almost a week has passed as I write this blog post. The doctor had asked I not move too far from home until I am well, so I am stuck at home for now.

I am still a bit weak, but my appetite has returned. The rashes are still there but subsiding. They do itch if I sweat, but my condition is far better from a weeks ago.

According to what I read, it may take up to 14 days for me to get back as usual. I’m doing some indoor repairs to sweat and regain my health.

My platelet count and white blood cell count has increased, so the doctor had given me the confirmation I am recovering.

I’m hoping by this Friday, or as soon as possible, I would be fully recovered.

MORE INFORMATION ON DENGUE

Just in case you are wondering, these are some key information on dengue.

There’s a few types, but the life threatening one is known as the dengue hemorrhagic fever. My bet is I got the mild one which is not life threatening.

Key symptoms of dengue are:

  • Sudden, high fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever
  • Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

These symptoms are typical and can be mistaken for a typical flu. Usually, it subsides after a few days like in my case.

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Aedes mosquito

However, severe dengue which is life threatening is something you need to watch out for. It comes with the following symptoms, ahead of the ones above:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding from your gums or nose
  • Blood in your urine, stools or vomit
  • Bleeding under the skin, which might look like bruising
  • Difficult or rapid breathing
  • Cold or clammy skin (shock)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability or restlessness

If you get any of the above, you must seek a doctor. You’d be crazy to stay at home and wait it off.

The best way to not get dengue is by ensuring that your surroundings do not breed the Aedes mosquito.

If there’s no carrier, there’s no dengue.

The Ministry of health did fogging near my house area a day after I was diagnosed with dengue, which is pretty swift from them.

CONCLUSION

Anyway, I’m so glad that I’m feeling better these days, but getting dengue has changed how I would make decisions in the future.

If there’s anything I got from this dengue experience (except for the virus), is that life is fragile, and we should treasure it when we are still alive.

Stay healthy everyone.

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