That lovely scene above was me on Thursday night, before I found out that I have Dengue Fever. Remember a few months ago when I said I didn’t want to be the second newbie who got it? Well, despite using enough Deet that I am fairly certain I will grow an extra digit sometime soon, I managed to catch it.
Thursday morning I woke up with kind of a spotty rash on my trunk, but we had gone out to eat with some friends the night before and I thought maybe I had eaten something I was a little allergic to. As the day wore on, I started feeling like I probably had a fever and also now my head was itching pretty badly. At this point I was less worried about the fever and more worried itchy head = lice, but I did not feel right, so I went to the doctor at school. She took my temperature and I had a small fever, but nothing to worry about. I knew I was ill though because I was so cold. I felt like I needed a sweater inside everywhere which is certainly not normal. At the end of the day I took a cab home (so lame, it’s a 12 minute walk but I couldn’t imagine doing it) and went for a nap on the couch. By the time Gav got home I had a fever of 103.something and also an itchy, blotchy rash all over my stomach, back and neck. I imagine my head too, but not too bad on the face (small blessings!). I spent the evening complaining and taking paracetamol. That ice pack felt nice, but what actually happened is all my hair froze to it and I had to peel it off. Do not recommend. I went to bed at 7:30.
I had quite a restless night, but somewhere around 2 I took another dose of paracetamol and that seemed to get on top of it a bit and I woke up feeling….not fine, but not anywhere near as bad as the night before. Which was lucky, because I had a very busy day full of things that would have been really hard for someone to do for me. Gav made me check in with the doctor again, who took my temperature (back to just a low-grade fever) and gave me some antihistamines to deal with the rash. When I took that I felt a lot better, but she said she would make an appointment for me after school with The French Doctor to rule out German Measles . She was sure it couldn’t be Dengue because you are supposed to feel like complete death for a few days before the rash comes (the rash is the sign you are getting over it) and I had felt fine. I got through the rest of the day and then got in a cab to go to the hospital, where Dr. Olivier has his practice.
The cab ride there was sort of torturous in the Friday afternoon traffic, and the taxi had no AC which would normally enrage me (see Gav’s post about the weather being hot again, boo) but I was still feeling cold all the time so actually it was nice. I had no idea what to expect at a Burmese hospital, but as soon as I stepped in the elevator, someone pushed the 11th floor button for me without asking, so obviously they are used to foreigners going there for only one reason. I got seen pretty quickly, getting ushered into Dr. Olivier’s office that is weirdly full of about 20 different sized statues of Tin Tin. He had the same opinion as the school doctor, that it was probably just a random virus that I got from a kid at school. He did ask what my job was at school and when I said Librarian he said “oh, so you don’t really have any contact with the kids then.” Right. He said he would take some blood, do some tests and if they all came back negative he would send it off to Bangkok to get tested for more serious stuff. But for now he said “I proscribe you paracetamol, antihistamines and wine, but only French wine.” A man after my own heart, even after he told me I weighed too much to be taking just 1 tablet, I better up it to 2. Thanks buddy.
A note about the process of having blood taken. I have gotten pretty used to the NHS, where things are done as efficiently and cheaply as possible. If I had blood taken there, I would be sitting in a hard plastic chair and told to look away if needles bother me. This approach is totally fine, and I love the NHS. But here, I was taken to a bed, given a fluffy blanket and asked if I wanted a lollypop. Then TWO nice Burmese nurses stood by me, one just to hold my non-blood giving hand. The other one sprayed about 6 different kinds of numbing stuff on my arm before cleaning it and taking the blood. It was hilarious. I kept telling them that I was fine with needles and didn’t need all that, but they insisted. Then at the end I got this cute bandaid.
You would not get that on the NHS. But you know what else you wouldn’t get on the NHS? A whopping bill of over $100 for the consultation and testing and everything. That is a lot of Kyat and I was surprised at how expensive it was given that things are seriously cheap here. I’m sure anyone reading this who deals with health care in America is rolling their eyes at me right now, but I am used to paying nothing!
Anyway Dr. Olivier said he would email results but I was probably fine, go home and rest. About 7pm that evening, I got a phone call from an unrecognised number-it was the doctor, saying “I can’t believe this, but you have Dengue.” He kept asking if I was sure I didn’t have a fever before Thursday, and I mean, I don’t take my temperature regularly, so I don’t know, but I had felt fine. There’s nothing you can do for it anyway, except rest and drink fluids. I had to go back for more bloodwork yesterday morning (more money!) and I have to go back Monday as well, but otherwise I should be fine. I felt better yesterday and feel a lot better today (no spots!) so I think I am on the mend. Good thing, because we have a break starting Wednesday and Gav and I are off to do some birding north of Yangon. If it’s boring I can always pull the Dengue card and stay in and read.