Little Lessons On Becoming Filipino: Dengue
This last month 4 out of 5 of us Folkmans were hit with dengue. It started with our youngest one spiking a fever and vomiting for 24 hours. He felt a bit better the next day but spike a fever again the following day. Like dominos, my husband got hit next, then three days later I fell ill and what appeared to be progress, my eldest son was positive for dengue. It was a hellish two weeks. We are fortunate because we have access to high quality medical care and I was the only one who ended up being hospitalized, more on that later.
Disclaimer: This is not a medical post or even an advice article but purely just a write up of what my experience was like having dengue in Manila.
The most common question I received was about the symptoms of dengue. To be honest, we didn’t know my youngest son had dengue until he was already over the mess of it. We actually didn’t get tested for dengue until I was on day two of an incredibly high and painful fever. My back was in pain, similar to child birth, for almost a week with the fever. I also got sick of laying in bed and my hips were sore from laying on my sides so much.
The symptoms were an excruciatingly high fever that caused me to be completely silent and still. My brain was actively going full speed but I didn’t even have enough energy to talk, laugh, text or watch tv. All the very important aspects of life, ha! I had never been this exhausted in my life. My fever lasted around 7 days and here I am 8 days later typing this post and I am still tired. I can function but after one meeting or activity a day, I am wiped out.
What people seem to skip over when talking about dengue is the awful and miserable rash left in its wake. Incredibly itchy, sharp and annoying, the dengue rash hangs around a few days after the fever has left just to make your life a little bit miserable. The rash was almost the hardest part for me, it kept me awake an entire night upon its arrival.
By day two of an excruciating fever my husband and I finally clued into the possibility that we might have dengue. I was too exhausted to go to the hospital to get tested so we used AIDE app to have a technician come to our house and give us the rapid dengue test. We booked through the app and a few hours later a nurse was at our house drawing our blood and testing it for dengue. Within a matter of minutes we saw the positive results that my husband and I both had dengue. We also received a full lab report of our blood tests within 4 hours of the nurse visiting our home. The tests are uploaded to your profile in the AIDE app. It’s all super convenient and affordable. Our dengue tests were each 1000php but it appears they are on sale now.
Later through the healing process of dengue I had to have my blood work done daily to check on my platelets and white blood count. I went back to the hospital once to have it done and was wiped out the rest of the day. I used AIDE app again for the in home service to complete my bloodwork. I couldn’t imagine the fatigue of dengue and visiting a hospital everyday to have my blood work done. I was super grateful we could use the AIDE app. *i have no affiliation with them.
After we did the rapid dengue tests it was evening and all I wanted was to get a good nights sleep in my own bed. When we woke up the next morning we headed to St. Lukes BGC and spent 8 hours in the ER until a room opened up for me. I was admitted because I wasn’t eating and drinking - which is not like me. I talk a lot and eat a lot. They were worried of dehydration which is a major threat while one has dengue.
another symptom of dengue is sensitivity to light. i had to wear my glasses the whole time in the er because the lights were so bright it was painful.
and i brought my most comfortable blanket from home with me from Abel Philippines.
The hospital rooms were full as dengue has increased by 50% in cases this year than previous years. I spent 3 days in the hospital and had great care. I was starting to feel better and really wanted to sleep in my own bed so I was able to be released and go home. If I am being completely honest, this was probably a mistake on my part and I should have stayed in the hospital a few more days. When I returned home I was almost completely non-functioning for 2 more days.
I am firm believer that I heal better when I am at home in the comfort of my own bed. However, that are times when of course the hospital and supervised medical attention is necessary and life saving! The problem with hospitals is that the nurses check on you literally every 1-2 hours AROUND THE CLOCK. This meant during the night I wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour to two at a time. That’s the main reason I wanted to come home asap.
tita jenny came to visit and brought us all the best things in life: wonton soup, din tai fung spinach and milo dinosaurs.
Pro tip: order a vegetarian diet in the hospital and they will serve you brown rice with more vegetables and fruit. The breakfasts were pretty bad, it was only a jam sandwich so I was starving every morning but the other meals were great.
It’s been two weeks since my first fever spike with dengue and I still feel extreme fatigue. The exhaustion that follows you after the intense pains+rash of dengue can last weeks and sometimes even months. Be prepared to slow your lifestyle down significantly, even if you are technically recovered.
Every country has their own buggers. It’s only a matter of time before I would get the dengue experience after a decade here. I am grateful for our access to medical care and insurance as I know many do not. I am extremely grateful we are all on our way to recovery and a HUGE shout out to my husband who was my nurse through the whole process. He was incredibly kind, patient and thoughtful. And as one nice friend said on Instagram, you are now truly Filipino!