Monday, August 10, 2015

When Dengue Strikes

I would often hear of dengue in the news and occasionally, friends of friends who would get it. I'd hear how difficult it'd be to have dengue and how others would even die from it. It never seemed like that big of a deal until it struck us.

July 31 seemed like a normal day. I just didn't feel 100%. I felt dizzy and felt a slight headache coming. That night, I couldn't sleep. I kept tossing and turning until 5am. My head throbbed. I was getting the chills. For some reason, even my eyeballs felt sore. The feeling was flu-like but worse.

A 38.3* fever greeted me the next morning. To my surprise, Dad and Bebeh, my little sister, also woke up with high fever. This didn't seem right. What were the odds that the three of us would simultaneously get sick? Could it have been dengue since one of our helpers had gotten it a few weeks back?

Mommy, Mommy, I feel hot.
Woke up with a 38.3* fever! Head throbbing and eyeballs feeling sore.

Researching dengue symptoms, I was almost certain we had it.

We took Paracetamol to lower our fever. We also took blood tests daily to monitor platelet counts.

One of the dangers of dengue is lowered platelets without our feeling anything. This can deep-dive to critical levels which can lead to bleeding, shock, and even death. *gasp!*

Bebeh getting her blood extracted. No tears!

I hate getting blood tests. Needles are such a pain. Literally.

Our platelet counts were normal during the first two days of being sick. Normal platelets range from 150k-450k. On the third day, from 175k, my platelets dropped to 117k! I even doubted the result so I opted for a second one to be sure. But alas, my platelets were really dropping. 

My blood test results on the third day. Platelet counts were down to 117k!

Such was the case for Dad and Bebeh. The doctor immediately advised us to get confined. 

We admitted ourselves to a small family hospital nearest to our house. It wasn't the best nor did it have top-of-the-line facilities. However, it did seem ideal for "minor" cases like dengue. There, it was confirmed (confeeermed!) that all three of us had dengue. 

My hospital room. Felt "homey" more than a hospital.

I also learned that there wasn't a specific medicine for dengue: just hydration. The doctors would say to drink fluid... any fluid: water, Gatorade, buko juice, tawa-tawa, or even beer! (I'm sure he was joking about the beer part, though.) HAHA! 

So we followed orders. 

Getting an IV wasn't as painful as I always imagined. IV fluids helps!

Beer? No. It's tawa-tawa! This helps to bring up platelets.
We drank it like water. Tastes like tea. 

During our stay in the hospital, we had to pee in this bottle to measure our fluid output.
Not the best feeling.

In the three days of confinement, our conditions improved. However, my dad opted to move to a better hospital in case something would happen. He was in the worst state out of the three of us and his platelets were also lowest (~50k). His muscle and back pain caused by dengue didn't help. 

Inside the ambulance going to Hospital #2.
Dad riding the first one while Bebeh and I here in the second.

Despite having reserved rooms at the better hospital, we had to wait for four hours in the ER before we could go up. Major hassle!

Because my left had was swollen from the IV, I had to get another one on the right.

Because of all the hullabaloo in the ER, our fever returned and our platelet counts took a nosedive. My platelets dropped to around 70k and Bebeh's was somewhere close. To our horror, Dad's platelets dropped to just 20k! The doctor told us that this was expected to drop even more after the fever subsides. (Just imagine my mom's stress levels!)

Thankfully, Dad didn't need a blood transfusion even after his platelets dropped to 19k. We were this close to preparing already, though. Interestingly, the doctor said that even if platelets drop to 10k, he still wouldn't be scared. 

Fortunately, our fever subsided and all our platelets made a u-turn and started to rise.

I actually felt fine by the 5th day of being sick. Was able to walk around the hospital.
Platelets were just being stubborn. Hehe.

We all had to record our fluid intake and output.
Couldn't write well because of the IV on my hand. 

After a week of being sick, I was finally able to go home. I was discharged the day after admission, then Bebeh, then my dad last. Even if platelet counts weren't at optimal levels, the doctor still discharged us given the absence of fever and the continual rise of our platelets. I was discharged with a platelet count of 100k.

When the horror stories you hear about dengue unfolds right before your very eyes, it can be very traumatizing. You worry endlessly, your imagination goes haywire, and you start to pray. Hard. 

  1. If you suspect of having dengue, seek a doctor immediately. 
  2. Take Paracetamol to lower fever. Don't take Ibuprofen as this may cause bleeding!
  3. Get blood tests daily to check platelet counts and hematocrit levels. 
  4. Get confined in the hospital if your platelet count drops! Normal platelets: 140k-450k
  5. Drink 2-3 liters of fluids everyday! Tawa-tawa helps, including grounded papaya leaves. 
  6. Blood transfusion isn't necessary unless the doctor advises. This can still wait until platelets drop to around 10k or so. Scary, I know. 

As selfish as it may sound, I take comfort knowing that if it's not your time, it's not your time.

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