Diary of a Dengue Kid
Dude, it’s still not funny.
That was one of the thoughts I tried comforting myself with – that one day this whole dengue thing would be funny to me – but it’s been over a week now and it’s still not funny.
In fact, it’s the opposite of funny.
I woke up Wednesday with an insane fever and I thought I could Paracetamol it off. Amazingly, I still managed to drag myself to a movie that night and I realized something was really wrong because one, I was so focused on my aching body that the movie, which was about people trapped in an elevator with the devil, did not scare me at all. I repeat. People. Trapped. Elevator. Devil. Did. Not. Scare. Me. Two, I ended up sleeping early for the first time in years. Three, I felt no desire to go online or even touch my phone at all.
Oh yes, I really was sick.
Fever remained consistently high on Thursday. I skipped work, stayed in bed the whole day, sleeping and thinking, “Shit, something is wrong with me.”
I had zero appetite. When I say zero, I mean zero. My stomach would protest in hunger and I would find it a struggle to force even one tiny piece of cracker down. Even drinking water was a struggle. And that was tricky because all day long people kept telling me I needed fluids, fluids, fluids.
I tried to pray, bargain, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol my way to feeling better on Friday. It worked, for about twenty hours. And then the blasted fever was back again. I felt like screaming but I had no energy.
Because my fever just wouldn’t go down, Jill forced me to go the hospital. It wasn’t easy but she did it.
Six a.m. on Saturday found me in the emergency room crying as the doctors stole my blood and urine. Okay, scratch that, I gave both up willingly. The urine more than the blood. They had to work a little harder for the blood. I was crying so hard that the blood girl had a difficult time finding a working vein. I ended up with two pricks instead of one.
Yes, shut up, I have a problem with needles.
My platelet count was down so the doctor wanted to do a dengue test. It was negative. So I was sent home. But you have to come back tomorrow, the doctor said. The dengue test is only 80% accurate. Ve vant more blood.
I spent the entire day sleeping and marveling at how stupid some subtitles can be.
This was the best one I saw all day.
And, because I am a stubborn workhorse, the next day, I got up very early to do an interview.
At 8 in the morning. On a Sunday.
Yes, yes, I am stubborn.
And later that day, I puked in the hotel bathrooom.
And later that day, I went back to the hospital for another blood test.
I had the perfect vision of how my Sunday night would play out – blood test, drive to restaurant for some hand-pulled noodles, drive back to hospital to get results, platelet count normal, woohoo let’s go home and party!
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, it was: blood test, drive to restaurant for some hand-pulled noodles, drive back to hospital to get results, platelet count lower than ever, cry like an effing baby and freak Jill, Giff and Jolo out in the process.
I needed to stay in the hospital, Jill said. They won’t let me leave.
I don’t want, I said.
You have to, she said.
Okay, I said. But no IV.
I can’t promise you that, she said.
What happened next?
I was hooked up to an IV, naturally.
I’m so glad the girl who did it was good. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. And she worked fast.
Jolo stayed with me while Jill and Giff left to get clothes and books and stuff.
Soon, I was in my room.
And for the first time in my life, I was hospitalized.
I was in the hospital with dengue – exactly a week after I wrote two articles on protecting yourself from that blasted disease.
I hated the blood tests.
They took my blood every 12 hours. 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
That wasn’t fun.
They took my blood seven times. I never watched – I always covered my face with my hoodie.
Until now, I still can’t bring myself to watch this video.
And then, on my second night in the hospital, the old man in the hospital room next to mine died.
Jill, Jason and I were in my room. I was on the phone with my grandma when I heard Jason and Jill go, “Oh my god, what was that?”
They heard a strange sound coming from the next room – a moaning, groaning, gurgling sound.
And then, a few minutes later, the wailing and the screaming started. It was the old man’s daughter and she was screaming at the nurse for help.
The screaming and wailing and crying lasted for hours. The woman was sitting right outside my door, waiting to hear if the doctors were able to revive her father. She wouldn’t stop crying. At one point, Jill stepped out of the room and handed her a cup of water. Soon, their relatives arrived and there was more crying. The noise stopped at about 5 in the morning and at that point, I was a mess.
I couldn’t sleep. Someone came to take my blood at 6 and after that person left, I started to cry too. How long do I need to stay here? How many times do I need to be pricked? Why won’t my platelet count go up? I was tired of being sick. And I was feeling sorry for myself. And for Jill who had to sleep again on that uncomfortable brown couch.
A few minutes later, like magic, I received a beautiful text message from KT. “You will be better, you just have to be patient.”
It was like she read my mind.
I finally fell asleep and I woke up a few hours later to good news. The doctor said he was going to ask my nurse to remove my IV later that day. And he cancelled that evening’s blood extraction. They’ll do another blood test the next morning, he said, and if my platelet count was up, they’ll let me leave the hospital.
After my nurse removed my IV (I didn’t feel a thing!), I ended up changing rooms that day (it was always too warm in my room) and the first thing I did when I moved to the new room was take a long bath. It was good.
The truth is, despite my self-pity, my stay at the hospital wasn’t all that horrible.
My nurses were wonderful. I especially loved Becky Nurse, who would come to my room in the middle of the night to talk to me about love and life. J said that was serious proof of my life as a fag hag. He said, “Hanggang sa ospital, ayaw mo paawat!”
My room had a great view.
My awesome friends came to visit. And brought with them goodies – including a lot of juice.
I had so much Tipco by the end of my hospital stay that I could have bathed in juice. Not kidding – I had about ten boxes of the stuff.
Also, the hospital food wasn’t bad.
Seriously. This was my favorite hospital meal.
One of the craziest (and best) things about my hospital stay was my brother’s presence. As they were checking on me in the ER, I looked up and saw Powie. I thought I was hallucinating but he was really there – because his girlfriend’s adorable baby was sick too.
Little Georgia and I were admitted into the hospital on the same night so during the next days, we were able to spend time with Powie, George and Georgia. They’d go up to my room, Jill would go down to their room, we’d eat together, we’d hang out.
It was almost like an episode of Friends – except with needles and blood.
Also, this hospital episode showed me that I’ve got a pretty good healthcare plan. Good job, office.
And in a little over a week, I made up for all those years of not sleeping. I’ve slept and napped and rested so much – it’s crazy. It’s about time, a lot of people have been telling me. Now if only I can learn to stop napping.
At 6 a.m. on Wednesday, someone came to take my blood and I was amazed because I did not feel the needle. It was the best blood test ever not just because of the lack of pain but also because it was the test that told my doctor I was ready to go home.
I’ve been out of the hospital for days now but I still can’t say that I feel completely normal.
On top of the dengue, I also had to deal with UTI. And the medicine first prescribed to me was awful. It had horrible side effects. Nausea, vomiting, at times I found it hard to breathe. I stopped drinking it on the fifth day and today, I went back to the doctor for a checkup and to ask for a new prescription. I had to have more tests done and I can’t wait until the results come out and this UTI is gone so I can feel like myself again.
This whole dengue thing felt like a punch in the gut. This is the sickest I’ve gotten and it brought me face to face with the reality of my mortality.
I am not invincible. And days before my 30th birthday, this was a good lesson to learn. Maybe now I’ll take care of myself a little more. Maybe now I’ll love my life a little more.
But just because I am not invincible doesn’t mean I can’t go back to feeling crazy and strong.
And thanks to my wonderful friends (and a lot of gelato), I’m already halfway there.