Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dang Dengue

Hydration salts remind me of my childhood in southern California. We would often visit my grandparents, who lived in Newport Beach just a few blocks from the Balboa Island Ferry. Grandma June and Cap't lived on the bay in a two-story ocean front beach house. There was a glass bridge to their bedroom, a bathroom with a secret door and--the coolest--a laundry shoot. My brothers and I, however, spent most of our time outside on their small plot of beach. Hours upon hours. And when we weren't on the beach, we were in the water. A weak swimmer (and non-stop talker), the ocean often rushed in my open mouth, just as I now am forced by my loving husband to drink these hydration salts.
My grandma would endlessly reprimand us for leaving wet towels on her wood floors. She'd bend her creaking body to pick them up, slowly, painfully. Now I'm that old woman, with a fierce headache just behind my eyes. My body moans in protest at every movement and however much my mind wants to be checking off to-dos from the list, the rest of me lies in bed, listless.

Apparently Dengue feels like the flu for a day or two: low-grade fever, achiness in your bones. Then there is a break. You think you're on the upswing. Boom. Your fever spikes and you spend a week in the hospital hooked up to an IV to keep you alive. Its a virus, so treating Dengue is more just managing its symptoms--the most dangerous being dehydration. Your platelet levels drop. If and when you suspect that you may have been gifted this lovely virus, get a blood analysis to determine your platelet level. The normal range is between 150-400. When Max was terribly sick two years ago, his platelets were 109.

After two days where I said things to Josh like, "If I'm passed out when you get back, make sure that I'm wearing pants on our way to the clinic," I began to feel better. So I prepared for the worst. Naturally, I walked my kids to their first day of school, then cleaned my house. Seemed like a perfectly good use of time considering I was planning on being in bed, close to death, for at least a week. I washed the last dish in my sink, turned to exhale as I looked at my clean house and it hit. Gross, but good timing, I thought. Dizzy, suddenly hot, cold, and aching all over, I made my way to a horizontal position and called for Josh to bring the thermometer. We had agreed that I'd go to the clinic when my fever came back. Here it was.

An emergency clinic is a 3-block walk from our house. It looks much bigger on the outside. We squeezed inside the emergency room with a screaming kid, an elderly lady with a head injury and several people with unidentifiable (to me) problems leaning against the walls and one another since the three chairs were taken by staff members presumably there to check people in. Blown up pictures of lab equipment hung on the walls. My favorite was the 4x4 foot photograph of blood-filled vials.

Ready to get my blood taken, I looked down. Yup, someone had been there before me.
Freezing with fever and sporting my hair in what I call, "Three-day bed head."
I felt a bit better when we returned home, Tylenol and Gatorade coursing their way through my system. (Side note: one of the acetaminophen brands they sell here is called "Dolfenol." It has a dolphin playing with a soccer ball on the package and the byline is "Healthy as a dolphin". Is it wrong to buy drugs just because they make you laugh?) Josh passed by the clinic an hour later while I stayed in bed, attempting rest.

217. That was my magic platelet number.
"Well," the doc said, "it might be dengue, but it's highly unlikely."
With that, I drank two huge cups of coffee and went about pretending I was never sick. My massive headache went away and my muscles began to feel significantly less ache-y. Dengue? Did I mention that just before I fell ill, I had painted walls for three hours? My final verdict: a dramatic, wholly out of shape caffeine addict who happened to get a fever for a weekend.

1 comment:

  1. ...and now you're better, some come to santiago and visit!