Friday, June 7, 2013

Dengue did not kill, despair almost did !

It was during the later half of my study holidays before the pre-final MBBS university exams, the time when a sense of fear and helplessness finally motivated me to start reading. On that evening, just 3 days before the first theory exam, I found myself lying on the bed with the book, casually reading. Suddenly, I felt the room get colder. I got up and turned off the fan and lay again. I felt a little fatigued too. I didn't bother much. I kept reading. But an uncomfortable feeling soon overcame me. I thought I might be running a fever. So I touched my forehead and felt it a little warmer than usual. I didn't understand why nor did I bother to take a pill. I kept on reading and checking my mobile phone for texts, as usual. But, in a matter of few minutes, I could feel my hot breath hit my chest. I was getting heated up and my skin was now feeling like a hot pot. I was a little disturbed. I took a paracetamol tablet, kept my book aside, put off the lights and closed my eyes. I hoped that everything would be OK when I woke up. I didn't speak about it to anybody in the house. It was around 8.30 pm when I fell asleep. It probably might have been very strange for others if they'd noticed that I'd slept so early with my exams right around the corner.

Angel of Grief  by William Wetmore


I woke up at around 2-3 am. I was running a very high temperature. I put a thermometer to my mouth and it read 104 F. I knew something was wrong. It was not the usual fever that comes and leaves without much trouble. The next day, I was fully on fever medications and had intermittent spikes of fever. I had every symptom of dengue fever. Saddle back fever, extreme bone pain, retro-orbital pains and all just like it was written in the book. However, I did not want to get lab tests done or get admitted in a hospital. I knew that would be even more unbearable. However, I was also aware of the danger signs and the management of dengue fever. So I kept a check on myself for them and kept myself well hydrated. I did not take NSAIDs that might interfere with my platelet function. I treated myself the way I thought was the best !

The problem started when people close to me started accusing me of not reading for my exams, not taking responsibilities for my own health, not seeking medical attention etc. The fever also started getting worse. It made me severely myalgic and tired. I could not even stand. I even fell once when I tried to. Nausea and episodes of vomiting made the situation even worse. I ate very little. It was the most torturous period of my life. I had to read for my exam which I couldn't. Not even a bit ! I simply lay alone on my bed and slept most of the time.

As the day of the exam neared, I became more and more nervous. The fever was still the same. Death from dengue was even OK for me but flunking univs ! I couldn't even imagine what would happen if I flunked! No one was there to support me emotionally. No one who would tell me that I could get through, was close. Friends did text and sent Get well messages. But they seemed too superficial. I don't blame them. After all, they had their exams to study for !

On the day of the exam, I felt a little stronger. I was surprised cos I couldn't even stand by myself till then. I rode my bike by myself, drove up to the exam hall. I spoke with no one. (I know, speaking with people would discourage me, cos they'd be discussing the subject and I might not know). I wrote the test. But I did feel sleepy and tired most of the time. I didn't care much of what happened around me. Somehow I survived through the test. The fever and the terrible myalgia stayed with me for about 10 days in all.

The results. I did pass my exam with distinction.

But the moments of loneliness and the despair I had to go through were the most painful of all. That wasn't the direct effect of the dengue virus. Of course, the dengue viruses (the different serotypes) can attack together and can even kill. But this time though, the virus decided to run a benign course on me. But the pathological mechanisms of loneliness and despair were induced by the environment and the people around, and also by some of my own decisions. Anyway, after that painful period, when I had to play the role of a suffering patient, dengue left me a bit wiser !

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Dr. Abialbon Paul
Though my literary skill are almost non existent, I love blogging and photography.
My photopage: www.facebook.com/abialbonpaul.photos
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