DENGUE FEVER IN A GOAN HUT
‘I got by with a little help from my friends’
After months of research, I finally found my perfect hut on the perfect secluded beach in Goa. Just 48 hours in and things took a turn for the worse…
The wooden walls of my shed at the beach had become blurred and undefined. The sunlight streaked through a gap in the curtains. Even with my eyes closed it scratched. The thought of moving was unbearable. The sweat that poured from me hurt. My joints felt like they were being pulled through the bed and into the floor by lead weights. My muscles, despite knowing they could complete a marathon, would not allow me to stand up.
All I wanted to do was have my morning walk along the beach, find my cove, hide out for the day…read, swim, nap, bathe in the balmy Indian sun. Unfortunately it was all I could do to get to the toilet, and doubly frustrating was the need to go every ten or fifteen minutes. What had I eaten? I was strictly vegetarian, not bold in my meal choices. Damn that bloody curry!! The suspected 24 hour gastric moment stretched into 36, and then 48. Off to the doctors I went.
It turned out I had Dengue Fever. I actually hadn’t even heard of it in my immunisation phase of prepping for my Indian adventure. I was told by one of my best friends via Whatsapp (a very talented doctor in the UK) that they called this ‘the bone-breaker’. No shit! ‘Who keeps stamping on my thighs?’ I kept thinking in my sleep.
Rushed into hospital about 45 minutes away, I was admitted and put straight onto a drip, allegedly my platelet count was dangerously low. It wasn’t until the second day in hospital that I rang my parents. I knew my Mum would want to be on the first flight, but I reassured her and told her I was ok. The truth is, I didn’t know that. I just didn’t want her to worry. I also knew I wanted to get through this on my own.
If you’ve ever been in hospital and on a drip, you might know how awkward it is to be attached to a bag on wheels. I’ve only had the occasion twice prior to this one. The treatment here was a high volume of fluid, so I needed to pee at least every 15 minutes. The kindest nurses would attend each time to detach my cannula. How patient they were! All they could ask me in English was ‘It’s paining?’when they had to fiddle with or replace the needle in my hand. I couldn’t begin to explain how our weird language doesn’t include pain as a verb you can ‘ing’. I just chuckled each time they did.
Five days into my stay in hospital, I was told that if my platelet count didn’t rise, they would be forced to transfuse blood. This was a turning point. I made a decision that night that I would get over this, that my immune system would kick in, and I would be going back to my hut soon. Sure enough the very next morning, the doctor came in with the test results, and I was clear to go. I had bounced back.
It’s at moments like this that I see the true value in the care and compassion of others. I was so grateful for the doctors and nurses that cared for me. I was lucky that my family and friends in the UK continued to call and send messages. A final note, and perhaps even the most impactful – the beautiful Israeli lady from the next beach hut came all the way to visit me. She had with her a strand of shells she’d made from the beach and a garland of marigold flowers for me.
Without love, we won’t survive. Without belief, we will shrivel. Without help, we can’t always do it.