My Dengue Story: It’s Not The Dengue That Sucks, It’s The Constant Comparison To Everybody Else’s Dengue
I got my dengue fever from the slum that houses the 101 India office. Yes, we work out of a slum. I’m typing this, Odomos-ed up, from a slum. I look out my window, and it’s a slum. The smell is of a slum, the sounds are of a slum (eee-oh-ay practise), it’s a slum. I go to the toilet, and it’s a slum toilet; “No poop, only pee” the sign reads, because I shit you not, in our slum, if you shit in the toilets, the toilets shit you back.
A whole new third world. A dazzling place I never knew
“How can you be so sure it was one of our slum mosquitoes,” my constipated Human Resources Manager argues.
Dengue fever – the worst two weeks of my life. It started with fatigue – sudden and overwhelming; I could barely move. I was running a slight fever as well. Most 101ers would have used this as an excuse to skip work. My amazing work ethic didn’t let me. Nothing keeps me from work my project manager. Three hours, two paracetamols, and zero attention (from said project manager) later, I was on my way home. My parents’ home. It was my mother’s birthday.
When it rains…
“Happy Birthday, Mama!” I greeted her at the door. “Get a dozen chicken patties,” she greeted me back, “we’re having guests.” A couple of hours later, halfway into my mother’s birthday dinner, my fever rose to a 104°. I was taken to the emergency room. “Let’s hope it’s not dengue,” a doctor with great bedside manner said. I hoped it was. Because while I was waiting for my test results, someone came in, dead on arrival. Death is a hard act to follow. I had to have more than just a fever.
So I had dengue. Illustration by Eshna Goenka
Platelet Count 2,00,000
“Go home,” they told me, “you don’t need hospitalisation.” They said the same thing to ‘dead on arrival’ too. How bad does one have to be to get a bed around here? But, it wasn’t my mother’s birthday anymore, so I did go home. I slept well knowing I’d wake up to pity, so much pity. People feeling sorry for me. Terminal illness privileges without the terminal illness.
But I woke up to this: 2 Lakh? Bro, my platelets were at 10,000! Why are you even home?
Platelet Count 1,40,000
I had 1,29,999 platelets to lose, and I had to do it quickly. The hospital seemed like the best place to do it; they only had beds in the general ward.
The problem: 1 Lakh 40 Thousand? Bro, hit 5,000 and we’re talking.
The bigger problem: Caripill – Papaya extract pills. Even swallowers spit Caripill.
The biggest problem: Medical insurance doesn’t cover you unless your platelet count is below 1,00,000.
I had to get sicker.
Platelet Count 50,000
Success! I was nauseated, because of the Caripill. I couldn’t eat or stomach anything; not even the liquids I was told to sip on. The 10 IVs I was hooked on to all day weren’t helping my Worst Hunger Headache In The World.
I was sicker. Much, much sicker. Phew!
But are you bleeding from your orifices, bro? Clearly not, bro.
Platelet Count 35,000
I was finally moved out of the general ward. Not to a private room, but private-er, at least. A four-bed sharing room. My roomies were: a 90 y.o. ex-war veteran, a 70 y.o. family man, and a 35 y.o. who was admitted on his birthday. Every one of them was sicker than me. Bro, suck it up. Look at 90 y.o. uncle. So brave, fighting organ failure at this age…
I had to die.
Platelet Count 15,000
I was dying. Finally. I was also moved to a private room. Deluxe, FYI: Television, air conditioning, a desk, a view, hot water, thicker dal, more than one bhaaji, and a nun to come pray over me every morning. What a way to go.
A taste of my own medicine
I started bequeathing the little things I owned to the people I loved most – my Tazo collection to my kid brother, my tissue collection to my project manager, my laptop password to my creative director, and an inside joke for you, reader – but then…
Platelet Count 20,000
My platelet count was on the rise. As far as all my ex-dengued friends were concerned, I didn’t have dengue at all. ‘Tis but a scratch, bro. From 20,000, my platelet count rose to 50,000, to 1,00,000, to 2,10,000. I was discharged. I lost.
Save for a little weakness, and a backache that lasted me a couple of weeks, I came out all right. I’m a 100% now. I’m a 101% now. And back at 101. No battle scars, no pity-party bragging rights. I survived. And they celebrated my birthday before my birthday. Just in case I don’t last.
1. Relax. Dengue’s not as bad as the news makes it out to be.
2. Hydrate. Sip on fluids as much as possible.
3. Water first, Caripill later. Wash your hands after you touch a Caripill.
4. You will have acidity, and you will have gas. Pass the gas. Nobody cares.
5. Don’t exert yourself. And if you do, don’t let your shortness of breath worry you.
6. If anybody asks about your platelet count, remember, it’s in the minus.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Dominic S
Photographs by Dominic S