When paradise loses its magic - A nightmare experience on the “island of gods”
I felt a bulldozer running through my brain... I felt a razor slowly gliding through my bones. I felt a dull pressure behind my eyes… I felt a tear, maybe two or three on my cheek...I felt my pulse running fast. Everything seemed nebulous and spinning. My body temperature was equaling the sun. I felt worse and worse with every passing second.
Here’s my story about the “bone-breaking” fever. I was debating for quite a while whether I should write about it or not. I love sharing thoughts and travel adventures and don’t want to write about depressing diseases. However, I decided to share my experience with everyone who is suffering from dengue as well or who’s traveling to tropical countries and wants to be prepared. Just to be aware of it, don’t panic but don’t be too casual about it either. And make sure to do a proper check-up to avoid potential complications.
But let’s start at the very beginning....
For those of you who don’t know yet: Dengue fever is a tropical virus spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. In the worst-case scenario, it can be fatal. There are four different serotypes of the virus. You can be re-infected by a mosquito with a different serotype, which you definitely do not want. If you get dengue for the first time, it can range from relatively mild to fatal. If you get it again, the risk of death increases. There is no vaccine yet to prevent human infection by this virus.
Despite the fact that dengue is never a pleasure during the worst stage (which is around the 3rd-4th day), most people will recover fully after about a week up to ten days. Also, it doesn't necessarily need to be such a dramatic experience; I also know people who could barely distinguish it from a normal cold and continued backpacking (btw really not recommendable), whereas others had a similar experience as I had.
I was among those lucky ones who got the whole portion of it- as I was a super delicious three meal course for a mosquito and ten of his friends… and every one of them was so kind to leave an extra amount of tips— awesome thanks, mates!
It all started kicking in out of nothing on the way home from a restaurant in the evening: Suddenly I felt a really cold shiver. It was extreme though, I felt weak and barely made it home on my scooter. I sat into my room covered up in a warm hoodie and blanket and my whole body was shaking as I’ve been hit by an earthquake.
The next day I got up, I felt weird, but still didn’t think about anything serious.
“I must be exhausted from all the surfing” was literally the only thought I had.
No, I was not exhausted. It was dengue fever.
It all started rapidly getting worse- around 3-4 hours later I couldn’t even get up by myself anymore. The fever started kicking in. By this time the doctor also confirmed a dengue virus through my blood results.
And voilà, the nightmare began. With every second, it got worse and worse and worse.
The fever and dizziness were one thing, but the razor-sharp pain cutting through my bones was the heaviest part of it. I remember lying in bed, taking my friend’s hand and screaming out of pain; I had to take an extremely high dosage of paracetamol to make it through the day somehow.
With temperatures hitting 40 + degrees and a headache that felt like a bulldozer was driving through my brain, I started feeling more and more desperate.
My platelets dropped each day further- (I had to do a blood test each day, 12 in total)
I remember looking in the eyes of the doctor, while he was telling me “If they drop further, it is getting critical”— I didn’t know what to do- I was scared. I had hit rock bottom.
My friend sitting next to me holding my hand and telling me “you’ll be fine”, “soon it will be over”. And my family on the phone worried and almost freaking out.
This is the moment when a paradisiacal island loses its magic, and when you know what family and good friends mean. How absolutely powerless you can be, just waiting, watching, and hoping that your body will make it. I was lucky to have such a good friend with me, who was sitting next to me 24/7, bringing me papaya and guava juice, water, and lots of mental support. (Dear Christina, once again a big thank you and lots of hugs <3)
After 10 days I survived the worst part. I slowly started walking in the garden. It all felt really weird though. Like my body forgot every movement during the past 10 days. Like I had to start walking from the beginning. I could walk for around 2 min and had to lie down again. My body was too exhausted.
Last blood test: my platelets were rising again. I felt relieved. I just had to recover and give my body some time. Well… a lot of time…
Post dengue condition
Several weeks later I still never felt fully rejuvenated again.
Even 2 months after dengue I still felt pressure behind my eyes, dizziness, and nausea.
I was active, I went surfing, running, and did all the things as before but could always feel that I’m not back to the power I once had.
Never ever would I have thought that the post-dengue condition can last for so long.
To keep it short from now on, it turned out that the dengue hit me way harder than I could’ve ever imagined.
But after my recent check-up and treatment, I hope that I can finally close the chapter "hell in paradise" and be back on my board soon with lots of energy.
Anyone ever had a similar dengue experience or other tropical diseases?
If you have any questions you can always message me, just be aware I’m not a doctor and can only share my personal experience. ;)
PS: To sum up, here are some facts:
- spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. mosquitoes most active in the hours after sunrise and before sunset. incubation period ranges from 3 to 14 days
SYMPTOMS I HAD
First 10 days:
- Extreme bone pain
- Pain behind my eyes
- Dry throat
- Extreme weakness
- Impaired vision
- Numbness of limbs
- no direct treatment against the virus, just lowering symptoms through paracetamol (don’t take other painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin as they might cause bleeding when the platelets are dropping )
- fresh guava juice increases your platelet count
- drink papaya juice and lots of water to stay hydrated
- A good friend who cares ;)
The best is obviously to stay protected from mosquito bites ;)