My recent dengue experience taught me to not take it lightly
I was not prepared for the onslaught of symptoms that dengue brought, from sharp headaches to rashes all over my body.
Reading news of the number of dengue cases in Singapore never fails to remind me of my recent painful experience with dengue fever earlier this year.
One morning in May, I received news that my brother had been diagnosed with dengue after his blood test on a Monday evening, but did not pay much attention to protecting myself from getting dengue.
As I previously read that mosquitoes preferred to feed on the blood type O, I mistakenly assumed my chances of getting dengue were low since my blood type is A, while my brother’s is O.
Two days later, I woke up with a mosquito bite on my leg. That marked the start of my mortifying dengue fever experience.
The fever hit me that very night and I took panadol before heading to bed, hoping it was just a normal fever. However, I woke up the next day with a higher fever and throbbing headache.
I went to see a doctor and had both an ART and blood test done. Upon knowing that my brother was diagnosed with dengue fever, the doctor suspected that I was likely down with dengue as well. She explained that once the Aedes mosquito bites someone in the household, it will likely bite other family members as well.
I immediately regretted not taking more precautions when I found out that my brother had dengue.
A few hours later, my doctor called to inform me that my lab blood test result showed that I had dengue fever.
As my platelet and white blood cell count was not at a dangerously low amount, I was not required to be hospitalised. However, I was advised to make a trip back to the clinic to take blood tests every day. I was afraid of blood tests, so this was definitely not pleasant news to me.
My symptoms got significantly worse as the days passed. I experienced vomiting, body aches, and rashes that worsened through the days, with the tiny red dots spreading all over my arms and legs. At one point, even my hands were red and swollen from the rashes and it felt painful when I touched things.
I had no appetite to eat and could only lie in bed due to how lethargic I felt. Even using my phone was a pain as I had headaches and eye strain. You can thus imagine the struggle to get myself out of bed for my daily blood tests at the clinic.
On my fifth day of dengue, my platelet count dropped to 118, from the previous day’s 140. As the decrease was significant, my doctor informed me that I might need to get admitted to the hospital if it drops further the next day.
Considering the fact that I had no energy and no appetite to eat, I actually didn’t mind getting hospitalised and put on a drip if my condition worsened. I thought that maybe it would help me recover faster and be able to get out of this misery sooner.
Thankfully, my platelet count rose significantly the next day and I did not need to get hospitalised. I remember feeling extremely relieved when my doctor relayed the news to me through the phone.
Recovery was slow during the subsequent days but my appetite started to improve. On day 10, my blood levels were back to normal. The symptoms were mostly gone and my rashes had subsided, though I still felt lethargic.
After the torturous 10 days of dengue, I realised the importance of dengue prevention and I make sure to advise everyone around me to take more precautions with the numerous dengue hotspots in Singapore. A mere mosquito bite can cause so much pain and misery and I will never wish it upon anyone.
Having gone through it once, I hope I never have to experience it again. Besides, a repeat infection is more dangerous and can be life-threatening, which is why I now take steps to protect myself such as using insect repellent often and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Before getting dengue, I used to think to myself: “What can a mere mosquito bite do to you?” Well, now I know how terrible dengue is.