Dragged by Dengue

Dengue’ is a scary word and what’s even scarier is the proximity of a mosquito.The popularity of the disease owing to its nature and treatment over the years hasn’t done much help to nullify this pathogen. Instead, there are more articles on the spread of the virus and the number of victims it has consumed.

My first introduction of dengue came from the news. I didn’t really read through the contents to understand its severity. All I imbibed was it’s a disease spread by the bite of an Aedes mosquito which carried the RNA virus resulting in high fever.

Aedes aegypti or the Yellow Fever Mosquito (PC: Wikipedia)

A year later, a colleague of mine working in Delhi was hospitalised for the same. It started as a regular fever which later hit temperatures of 101°F and above. When she was eventually hospitalised, the doctor’s diagnosed her ailment and informed the family that her condition was serious. Her platelet count had drastically dropped <15,000 and she needed blood transfusion. At work, we were informed that she was in the Intensive Care Unit (I am going to skip the details here) and wasn’t responding positively to the medicines. All we could hope and pray for was her recovery. Days turned to a month and she was good enough to talk finally and later discharged. Post hospitalisation, she had shared her picture one day. The scars of her battle were visibly seen. She was narrowed down to a skeleton with a terrifying mark on her face left from the breathing mask. Her transformation from a young, beautiful and healthy woman to a physically worn out fighter left me numb. The good news however is that now she’s back to her healthy self and regularly shares her ordeal to educate others around her.

Its 2017 and I was reintroduced to Dengue. Two months back I was down with high fever. A habitual self-medicator, I relied on the harmless fever capsules like Dolo 650, which did no good. The fever died after the medication only to revert. Like my colleague, the temperature was soaring high reaching upto 104°F. I was hospitalised at the right time and IVs containing antibiotics and glucose were pumped into my system. Though my treatment was simple, my ordeal was quite the contrary. In addition to body pain, my legs started to ache even more and the shivers wouldn’t stop. I had developed an ulcer and this made swallowing the semi solid food difficult. Soon I ended up with nausea. The very smell and sight of food made me vomit and I barely had the strength. My hands had swelled with a blotched skin under the needle, which was later removed and re-pricked on the other hand. In all this, my family had to struggle both physically and emotionally. They had to not just cope up with their changed routine but also an irritated me. As predicted, my platelets had dropped over the course of three days from 2.3 lakhs per unit volume to <50,000. It was then I started consuming papaya leaves juice on an empty stomach, twice a day. The platelet count soon re-bounced to 2 lakhs per unit volume and I was discharged after a seven days stay.

The miracle juice: Bitter to the core, this juice actually works in increasing the platelet count. Though the tablets are available, I relied on the organic version. This composed of first plucking the fresh leaves from the papaya tree and grinding it into a smooth paste using little water. It is then filtered to get the extract which has to be taken orally on an empty stomach for quick results.

My takeaway from this experience was mixed. On one side I pondered about the effects a few days of hospitalisation had on my family and how I ended up with dengue in the first place. There aren’t any mosquitoes or an issue with mosquitoes in or around my home. Irrespective of the season, the mosquito coil is always switched on at home. So getting bitten and infected on the whole seemed bizarre. On the other side, I felt relieved and grateful to be amidst people who supported and cared for me. Having your companion or family beside you at the hospital in a weird way is reassuring. It strengthens you and boosts your willpower to spring up from the crumpled hospital bed sheet. Since the infection, I have started giving importance to my neglected health, revamping my food and living habits. It has also tuned me to read about diseases in general and share key pointers to many in my social circle. Though it’s a small attempt, hopefully it can help someone keep dengue in check and the diseases at bay.