Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"I am sick." "I have Chickungunya" "No, I didn't make that up"

Well, we managed two and a half years without being afflicted with any mosquito born viruses. Unfortunately this year our luck ran out with two cases of Chickungunya and a mild dose of Dengue.

The first one in our family to bite the dust was Hunter. She woke early one Friday morning with a raging temperature, a strange rash all over her body and joint pain. Despite feeling so unwell she was determined to go to school for 'International Day' So I kept her home for the morning and we would go to school just for the International Day performance.
At around midday we head downstairs; Hunter looking very unwell. I sit her on the wall outside out house and look for a cycle rickshaw to take us the two kilometres to school. Then she vomits all over the driveway and says she feels much better now. So I run upstairs to get a face washer and clean her up… yes she still wants to go despite regurgitating an apple and some red drink all over the driveway. After dispersing the pile of red vomit with a bucket of water I flag down a rickshaw and we hop in. A few hundred metres into the journey she leans out the side and vomits again… that's it we are going home.
So I get her back home and onto the lounge. Now she says she is feeling heaps better and if we leave now we can still make it… her temperature is nearly 104 (40c) but she is determined. So we head back downstairs, she sits on the wall why I try to flag down another rickshaw. A second later she calls out and says she is not feeling so good and doesn't thinks she can go. So we head back in the gate towards the house. As I turn from latching the gate I see Hunter face down sprawled over a couple of pot plants… she has fainted (In hindsight it looked quite funny. I am tempted to ask her for a re-enactment so I can get a photo). So I go to her aid and she comes to asking 'where am I? I don't remember coming in the gate." I prop her up on the bottom step and survey the damage: bruised cheek, huge bleeding graze on her thigh, cut on her neck and a broken earring. I think it's time to head to the hospital.
Ray was on his way home at the time so we waited on the steps. He carried Hunter to the car and we head to Max Hospital in Saket.
Let me just say this hospital is fancy-shmancy. Great service, super organised and efficient. I would say it is as good as any private hospital in Australia. So we make the rounds with our dedicated personal orderly… emergency, observations, paediatrician, blood test and then home. The paediatrician offered to admit Hunter for a night due to the fainting spell but really it wasn't necessary. The whole adventure cost around $70… bargain.

Later that afternoon we called the paediatrician to get the blood test results… It was not Dengue, probably another viral fever such as Chickungunya. This is good news as Dengue, though very similar to Chickungunya, is a little more complicated due to the platelet issue and the potential to develop a haemorrhaghic disease causing internal bleeding and potentially (though not often) death.

So the next morning another one bites the dust… this time Ray. Same fever, rash and the crippling joint pain.

A few days later Hunter is back to normal except for some lingering joint pain which causes her to hobble around like an old woman. For Ray the joint pain takes a little longer to subside. This is the nature of Chickungunya, the older you are the longer it takes to get over the arthralgia. It can take well over 6 months.

The night before I am due to fly to Australia I develop a bit of a headache behind the eyes. I know what causes this kind of headache… Dengue Fever. The next morning I am up a 4am to get a taxi to the airport. The skin on my back feels strangely sore and sensitive and the headache is still there. I manage to get thought the next 17 hours of travel and layovers while feeling just a bit off. When I get to the in-laws house in Sydney I see the characteristic Dengue rash. Blah.
I am quite fortunate really, I never actually get the fever or the bone breaking pain. In fact 80% of cases of Dengue are asymptomatic.
So I spend my first week in Sydney feeling headachy, sensitive to touch and fatigued. And every morning I wake up with the itchiest hands and feet… so weird. Despite feeling like crap for most of my trip home it was still worth it.

I am just so thankful we all got through it all relatively easily.

No comments: