While April was a month of celebration and extravagance, May was the complete opposite. What started as jubilation over a misinterpreted good gym ache, soon turned into the dreaded three-day fever and eventually resulted in my admission into hospital as a reluctant Dengue statistic.
The experience was interesting though. I would describe Dengue as nothing short of a bizarre episode in my life, starting off with mere body aches and an intermittent fever, and thus self-prescribed bed rest. The fever did not last very long; it left the building a couple of days later, and I was lulled into a false sense of security that I had recovered. Overjoyed, I tried to throw myself back into the swing of things, but somehow my legs consistently dragged behind me ever so slightly, and my body felt like a whale that had indulged in too many doughnuts.
And then came the subtle but consistent fatigue when bed seemed so inviting during all my meetings and I was left wondering whether I had morphed into a good-for-nothing couch potato who wanted nothing more than to sleep my days away. And finally, when my temperature normalised and the platelets plummeted, I seemed to live in two worlds – the first I was present and operating in, but there emerged a second world that seemed to move two seconds behind me, and I felt as if I was watching a live telecast of a game but with the annoying lag imposed by the censorship boards.
Importantly though, it never felt like the world was about to end. But upon admittance into hospital, the A&E staff acted as if it were so, exclaiming that my platelets were so low that my body could launch into some sort of shock at any time.
My experience to share, is simply – do not take Dengue lightly, as it could be more serious than it feels. With good support and management, the experience will pass in a flash, almost as quick as that loving bite that the guilty mosquito administered, but it is better to err on the side of caution and let the experts look after you. Even after my short stint in hospital, the recovery process felt like extracting teeth. The doctor warned me that I may encounter problems “focusing”, with many patients reporting that they found it difficult to go back to work immediately. Recovery may take up to two weeks, I was told, but I could not comprehend how this could be so.
Upon being released from hospital and following a few days of rest I felt wonderful, and I attempted to get back into my groove. However, my first morning of exercise left me feeling nauseous until mid-afternoon, and as the days rolled on, bemused contacts started to report how I was writing the strangest things in my messages and emails which, when looking back on, were nothing short of excruciatingly cringe-worthy typos, grammatical errors and gibberish. A two week recovery period started to sound optimistic.
But I have to admit, the most interesting part of my experience was this – it was my first independent hospital experience. Apart from a pair of loving cousins who sacrificed their Saturday night to admit me, and smiling visitors who kept me amused until rebellious hours of the night much to the horror of the ward, it turned out to be a reflective few days of soul searching. I had groggily packed my hospital bag myself, stayed three nights in the hospital room alone, and managed all bathroom and shower experiences with my precious wheelie drip in tow with no assistance.
This was a first for me, and I am so proud that I emerged unscathed and largely unaffected. My mother had been travelling, and while my father attempted to keep me company, he eagerly accepted my first offer that he should go home and watch television in comfort instead of spending the afternoon blatantly wriggling around in discomfort on the smelly hospital room leather couch.
There was also no other half to grudgingly take on the dreaded babysitting obligation. A Feng Shui expert had once recommended some home improvements in our marital home which we did not follow, and mysteriously, things did not work out. While lying on my hospital bed, I had thought back to the diagonal bed set-up and bizarre rice cooker position that had been prescribed, and wondered whether I would have had someone other than my wheelie drip to talk to during the long hospital nights if we had effected the changes.
Of course, there is no answer for this, but I concluded that for peace of mind, we should have attempted some form of compliance, since we had asked for a consultation in the first place. Interestingly though, I could only look back on this as a positive experience. For while my lack of platelets left me physically weak, I felt mentally stronger, having gained the reassurance that I could go through something like this alone and sans dramatic meltdown.
I would even go as far as saying that I almost enjoyed the few days of reflection, notwithstanding two valuable lessons learnt – to perhaps tolerate funny bed and rice cooker positions in the future, and to use mosquito repellent.