Dengue and Me

August 11, 2019

Original Pic from Wikimedia

Hey guys,

I unfortunately contracted dengue fever and wanted to make a post to share my experiences and some of the advice I have received. Hopefully this post will help if you or your friend want some firsthand accounts on what to do if you have dengue in Singapore.

Honestly, it's not very surprising to me that I got dengue as I have been living in and visiting red zones (places with high dengue cases). Furthermore, when I'm out with my friends and family, I'm always the one that gets bitten. I spray mozzie repellent but it doesn't always work 100%.

Here's what went down.

On 4 Aug Sunday I went to play volleyball with my friends and felt super tired and uncomfortable after. I had a splitting headache too, but generally I just thought it was heat exhaustion or heatiness since I also had my period. Spent the rest of the Sunday afternoon nursing a high fever and taking panadol. Things were a little better towards the evening.

Monday morning, had to cancel work as my fever was still raging. I was also super exhausted and had no energy. Eventually I tried to watch a movie but had a super headache so I gave up on that. Ended up lying in bed trying to sleep the whole day, trying to keep the fever down.

Tuesday morning, the fever was still there and I woke up shivering and freezing my ass off though I switched the fan off. My thermometer (probably spoiled) registered my temp as 39.8c so I decided to go the doctor. They gave me a dengue blood test and panadol for the fever (which was actually 38.3c).  I went to the private clinic near my house instead of the polyclinic because it was nearer and I was feeling super unwell.

Well, I was floored by my medical bill.



When you see the bill you also want to faint right? Haha.

I can't claim any medical expenses because I'm a freelancer, so I literally burst into tears as I went home where I bawled some more. At this point I felt that I had no dengue because I only had fever as a symptom, none of the aching bones, muscle aches, or body rash. So I felt like $117 was a crazy price to pay for just panadol (which I have at home), and a test that would probably come back negative. What's worse is that when I checked the blood test price for polyclinics, it's only about $13 (might be a standard blood test though, without the dengue tests). So I cried like crazy (note that I was feeling very unwell) into a towel instead of tissues cuz #zerowaste. Lol.


Doctor called back later in the afternoon to say I tested positive for dengue and that I had to come in the next morning for a platelets test. Well I'll be damned.

Had to cancel more work.

Lessons To Learn

  • If you have a persistent fever GO TO THE DOCTOR. It's dengue season, don't take any chances.
  • Maybe try going to a polyclinic if you want to be more cost efficient.

Was pretty apprehensive going back to the clinic if they were gonna charge me another $100 or so for a blood test so I called back to ask for more information. The receptionist told me the next test was gonna be $33. I was OK with this but only if they didn't slap a $40 consultation fee etc because for dengue you gotta keep doing blood tests to see if your platelets fall below a certain number. Imagine paying $100 for daily blood tests omg please.


Luckily they really only charged me $33 inclusive of consultation fee. For polyclinics I believe the test will be about $15 +  some consultation fee so maybe $20? I really hate waiting at the polyclinic when I feel super unwell so I prefer to go to this clinic which is just a 5 min walk away. The distance matters to me cuz when you're sick, everything feels laborious.

Eventually on 10 August (Sat afternoon), almost an entire week being crazy bored at home, my latest blood test came back and my platelet count was finally on the rise! That kind of cleared me from returning to the clinic YAY! It's sad to have your veins poked by a needle every morning only to receive news that there's no improvement. I can't imagine people who have to continually undergo treatment in hospitals... it must really be very grim.

I spent my days mostly in a haze, sleeping and eating little cuz my stomach felt weird, maybe from panadols. I lost 2kg.

Some people may have the energy to go work or binge watch shows during their dengue, but for me though I didn't get any body rash or crazy bone pain, I did get a lot of headaches, felt dizzy often, and generally felt very weak and faint. I would feel bored and want to go to work, then 15 minutes later feel completely exhausted and wiped out from just walking around my room. Not sleepy, but really just tired to the bone. So I'll just lie on the bed staring at the ceiling. Lol drab existence. I surmise that I felt weak cuz of the lower platelet count.

The Doc said that I had a mild case of dengue, which is lucky for me I guess? The situation could have easily gone south.


Dengue Timeline



I made a rough timeline based on what my doctor said. It may differ from person to person but I wanted to give you an idea of how long this illness will be around.

Phase 1: Incubation Period
When the mozzie bites you, you're infected but it takes about 4-10 days of incubation before you will notice anything is wrong.

Phase 2 : Fever
The next 3-5 days you will see an onset of fever. The doctor told me that he usually prefers to conduct the blood test on the 4th day of fever, as sometimes on the 1st or 2nd day the test is unable to detect if you have dengue or not.

Phase 3: Platelet count start to drop
Days 6-8 you may see body rashes and that's when your platelets will start to drop. Platelets help your blood to clot, and the dengue virus attacks this.

Normal count for adults is 200-400k. Mine on the 3rd day was slightly below the standard at 198k. My lowest recorded platelet count was 145k, which is still kind of normal actually. Haha.

Doc said that if you have less than 50k then you get admitted to the hospital, and not to worry because only 1 in 10 patients are admitted. Most fight the dengue at home. For children, they are admitted at 80k.

This was mostly a relief because I don't fancy being hooked up to an IV drip and spending my week at the hospital. Fingers crossed. Nevertheless I called my insurance agent early on to check if I'm covered for hospitalization due to dengue (yes).

Doc's Advice

  • For the last phase of your dengue (days 5 and above), avoid handling sharp objects or falling down. Some people also bleed at the gums so if you're the type to brush your teeth super hard, be careful there. If you start to bleed your platelets may not be able to regenerate as quickly and you may need a blood transfusion.
  • Cancel work and stay at home, don't go shopping or what. Haha. Just rest. 

Advice from Friends
Do at your own risk, these were passed down from people who kena dengue before.

  • Blend, drink and strain papaya leaves to increase platelet count. Luckily for me, my mum planted a papaya tree months ago so I went to snip some leaves. Gotta warn you though, it's super bitter and nasty. Drink 20-30ml twice a day. You can Google for more info.
  • Drink guava or pomegranate juice to aid recovery

Advice from Me
  • Continue to use your mozzie repellent. I was bitten TWICE during my dengue. Life. Also there are 4 strains of dengue so you can actually get dengue up to 4 different times.
  • Wet a towel and use a cold compress like you see on TV. It helps your fever not go too crazy. Bathe often to get rid of heat.
  • Eat something even if you have no appetite because you gotta eat those meds.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your doctor about anything. This is not the time to be shy or scared. Also tell them if you are menstruating because it can lead to bleeding complications.
Also want to thank my fam, my bf, and my friends for supporting me and cheering me up through this entire time I had dengue. It really sucks to stay home and not be able to go work or do anything fun since you're mostly having a fever or too exhausted to even pick up the phone.

Total Payable: $216
Plus lost wages for a whole week = dengue was a really sad and expensive experience for me. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

If you're reading this and you have dengue, please take care! Don't be scared. You will get through this. Most people are afraid of going to the hospital (as do I) but before you worry too much, you may not actually need to! Seek medical attention and your doc will tell you what to do.

For everyone else, prevention is better than cure so please empty areas with stagnant water please and SPRAY yourself with repellent. Stay dengue free!!

Love,
Skye

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