I’ve been staying in my Phuket Workaway place for a few days. On day 3, I started feeling headachy, and feverish. So went for a quick nap, for 18 hours.
All hell broke loose when I woke up. I was covered in sweat, couldn’t even open my eye – it was so sore, like pulsing pain from the back of my eyes. Dizzy, and intense back and stomach pain, like I’m having the worst flu and period at the same time. Though I wasn’t throwing up just yet.
Initially, I thought it was the dodgy old banana I bought from the discount section of a street seller. It was 50 cent for a two dozen tiny bananas. Maybe old fly landed and laid eggs in the banana, which I then unknowingly ate maybe?
That night I couldn’t really sleep. I was taking cold showers every 2 hours to keep the temperature down (later I found out this is a big no-no for fever). Had two fans going full power, which didn’t really help. Accompanied by intense stomach cramp and back pain. I really missed home then 😦
Early in the morning, I decided to drive myself to a nearby hospital. In hindsight, probably should’ve asked someone to drive me there. Riding a scooter with a glorified bicycle helmet in Phuket traffic with a high fever is pretty silly. I made it to the hospital in one piece.
The doctor said it’s acute gastroenteritis, I had lost about 4 kilos from it. He prescribed me with some meds, and slowly drove myself back to my Workaway place. That night was even worse. I was throwing up the little I did eat, constant high fever and body aches. The next morning, I drove myself back there. This ride was actually quite dangerous. I got startled by cars and other scooters I didn’t see a few times.
The doctor said in his broken English, “your temperature bad”. I nodded and nearly cried, finally someone understands my pain! I blame it on the fever.
I was 40 degrees when I was admitted. Looked like a refugee, brown peeling skin, skinny with sunken eyes.
I ended up being hospitalised for 6 days in total. Had no idea I was going to stay there for that long.
On day 4, they noticed my gastro symptoms had gone, but I kept having spikes of high fever – my temperature was between 37.1 and 39.8. They finally did a blood test and found dengue virus in my blood. I met a few people that had dengue fever in the few months I’ve been travelling, didn’t think I was going to get it too.
Apparently, Thailand is having dengue fever epidemic this year, reporting a more than a 50% increase in infections compared to 2012.
There isn’t much they can do to cure it. It’s like a really bad flu, but unlike the common flu, it lasts a bit longer and it completely knocks you out during and few weeks following. All they can do is to give you panadol to manage the fever and keep you hydrated with the IV fluid.
On day 6, I was discharged. Walking out of the hospital was like waking up from a really long, bad dream. All in all, the hospital was good, and I had travel insurance that paid for my private room. All up, it came around NZD$1,700 for my 6 days at the hospital. That’s about 2 months of travelling around SE Asia for me. So glad I had insurance!
I came back to my Workaway place and decided to get out of Thailand. Booked a flight to Korea straight away, packed my bag, and headed straight to the airport.
Being back at my parents’ place was the best thing I’ve done. I was thinking about checking into a luxury villa in Thailand, but it would’ve cost about the same as coming to Korea. Parents’ fed me well, and I was back to my normal weight in just over a month.
For about 3 weeks after I recovered, my body was covered in dengue fever rash. It looks a bit like heat rash, but all over the body. It wasn’t itchy, but very sensitive. Even touching it was sore, and I didn’t really have any strength in my body to do anything. Being out in public was disorientating.
It’s been about a month and a half since I had dengue fever. I think I’m back to normal and resuming my trip around SE Asia next week. This time around, I’ll be more rigorous with my DEET spraying. I think it will be awhile before I go back to Thailand. The trauma of getting caught with Dengue in the first couple of weeks of being in Thailand will linger.