I got dengue fever a few weeks ago, and I want to write about my experience, but it’s hard. It was traumatic. There were times when I wondered if I would die. Times when I knew I would die Most people do not die from dengue, but even so what happens to your body is scary. This is what happens if someone gets dengue.
The fever rages, you burn, you melt and you don’t know why. You had no idea that a single mosquito bite could give you dengue fever. Fever reducers help, the fever goes away but the fever is just the beginning, it only gets worse after.
A day goes by and then comes the rash - volcanic runoff splashing its way down your body. From your chest up to your head and down to your feet. The lava flows until your skin is an angry sea of red with little islands of white. What is worse, something is clearly wrong with you, and your friends are afraid. They don’t know that dengue isn’t directly contagious. They don’t know that that even if a mosquito bites you and then bites them, they won’t get it. They don’t know that if a mosquito bites you that it would take days of incubation before that same mosquito become contagious. They shun you, you are alone.
The rash is the first sign that you are hemorrhaging, that the virus is attacking your blood vessels as it tries with all of its might to make you bleed to death. Bleeding to death or complications from almost bleeding to death is what kills you when you have dengue. As the virus marches through your blood destroying every bridge, highway and decent infrastructure it can find, your platelets come to the rescue. They are the municipal workers hired by your body to repair the potholes in the roads, and stop the blood from leaking out of you.
At first the internal bleeding is minimal, the platelets repair your body, but your plasma, the water that carries everything in your vessels leaks out, and fills up your body. You swell. Your eyes feel like someone is trying to push them out of your head, even turning your eyes hurts. Your skin everywhere stretches, as if wrapped over a drum. Your hands and your feet grow, every step, every hand gesture, every wiggle of your fingers or toes burns, itches, and gives a little shriek of pain.
Snap, crackle, pop, those are the sounds your body makes. Your muscles don’t want to move. After all they are just bags of broken glass. You start to understand why Dengue is also called break bone fever. You have to move, you have to get food, you have to go to the bathroom, and while you might want to do other things, you not likely going to do them. As you walk to the bathroom, your body fails you. You sit on the floor, breathing long deep breaths. Panting. Exhausted from the difficult trek from the sofa to the floor beside the sofa, you rest, and you prepare for the next long leg of your journey. Hopefully within the hour you will make it to the rest room.
The rash will go away, the swelling will go away, but the muscle pain and the fatigue will stay until you have recovered. Every moment you are losing more platelets. You can watch your platelet count drop. 350,000. 250,000. 150,000.
I never fell below 120,000. At 120,000 you are weak, you are tired, you can’t do much. But you want die. Most people never fall into the critically dangerous stages of dengue. But some people do, their platelets fall and fall. If your platelets fall to 100,000 you need to be in the hospital. At 50,000 you need an emergency infusion of platelets. At 0… now you bleed, you really, really bleed.
If your immune system cannot push the virus back your platelets will drop until there are none left. This is when you might die. Your gums, your nose and in some cases even your eyes bleed. As hot red tears stream down your face you’re going to start feeling cold. A tear drop or two isn’t the real problem; the real problem is inside your body, where you are crumbling, where blood is spurting from ruptured vessels, leaving huge blue bruise marks on your body, and lowering your blood pressure. Your heart pumps and pumps but unless you get blood and get it quickly, your heart will have nothing to pump. Then you die.
Don’t get dengue, protect yourself from mosquitoes, and don’t leave stagnate water anywhere. If you get dengue, drink water and intake as many electrolytes as you can. Sports drinks, dehydration salts, anything that will keep your veins full of water, and your heart pumping happily.
There are four types of dengue. If you get one, you are not protected from the others. In fact if you get another one, the chances of severe complications only rise.
Tags:Health & Environment Expat Rants & Advice Expat Tales
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