Readers' Submissions

Dengue



Last July I was visiting Bangkok for a month. I wanted to get to know a girl I had met through the internet. Thai-Lao-dating pages, they're superb. Anyway, the first two weeks were awesome. I met her almost every day after her work and started to get to know her better. During the day when she was at work, I studied this great Thai-language book: Thai for Beginners by Benjaman Poomsan Becker. The ability to chat a little bit in Thai made me look good in her eyes and gave her some assurance to present me also to her family. The family lived in the shelters on the river close to the airport. I met her parents, sisters and neighbors. She cooked for me. I made jokes to all the children running around. She seemingly started to get more relaxed.

On the third week I was sipping beer late at night in my hotel room near Siam Square. While thinking how to make a lasting impression on that adorable woman, I started to feel a little bit of fever. After one hour I had a very high fever. That night I did not sleep a wink. In the morning I was so exhausted that I could hardly walk to a nearby restaurant to eat breakfast. I could only drink a little bit of juice, everything else had to be carried away. At that time, there was bird-flu spreading in Ayuthya and some other places. We had visited Ayuthya couple of days earlier with her family. So, I went to internet cafe and looked about the hospitals I had seen in Lonely Planet's Thailand book. I quickly found out I could get more detailed information of hospitals from Stickman's pages than from the Lonely Planet. I decided not to bargain on my health, so I chose the most expensive private hospital; Bumrungrad. I took a cold shower and it helped me gain a little bit of consciousness. When it was time to leave to a hospital, I learned a new lesson. Never take a taxi, if you need to get to a hospital in an hurry. I should have just taken a motorbike taxi or Skytrain. But no taxi. It took about 45 minutes to get from Siam Square to Sukhumvit Soi 3 in that rush hour traffic. And the driver stopped to buy coconut from street side vendors. No hurry.

At Bumrungrad, the receptionists were very professional and nice. At that point, I could hardly walk from my fever. I sat down to wait for a doctor. After five minutes some nurse behind the desk came to ask me if I would like to have another doctor, because the one I'm booked has seven patients before me. "Why, yes, of course! Great service." I went to sit somewhere else for 15 minutes and was shivering like a motherfucker. The doctor's door opened and I walked in. The doctor was about 50 years old, very polite and positive. Everything so far so good. I told him everything in detail about my fever. His English was not that good. I went to lie on an examination table. He pressed my stomach, hit me in my knee and took a look at my eyes and nose. Thank you, 8 seconds. I stumbled down and he gave me my prescription: Antibiotics and Paracetamol (The red brand, cannot remember the name). He told me come for a blood test after I had taken the antibiotics for five days. I walked out stunned: What the fuck! If I had a bird flu or anything else, I would know it only after about ten days.

On the third day I was taking antibiotics, I had lost 4 kg weight. I think it was mostly fluids, but also because all I could eat was a little bit of fruit. The Paracetamol was not helping anything, the fever would sometimes go away for one hour, but then come back again. The antibiotics made me more sick. Always after taking antibiotics I was shooting diarrhea all over the place. Every night my soon to be girlfriend would come to my small hotel room for a couple of hours and massage my body with a cold towel. That morning she had her only two-day weekend for a summer and we were supposed to go to Cha-Am. She had told all her friends and family about our trip and was very excited. I told her the fever would go away. But it didn't. When she knocked on my door, I had just taken antibiotics, vomited on the floor, ran to a bathroom and passed a huge flow of brown water from my ass. "It's the fuckin third day after taking medicine and I still have high fever" I was thinking while I opened the door with shaking hands. She looked at the vomit and at the messy bathroom and sat down on the bed. "It's ok, we don't have to go. I can take care of you. I am happy to just be with you."

At that point I decided to bother my old father, who is a retired doctor. He listened a little bit and this was practically what he had to say:" First of all, there has been Dengue virus spreading in Asia and it has been in the news here (but not in Thai news). The Paracetamol is for kids and pregnant mothers. For fever you need Ibuprofen and preferably, Codeine. If you have a virus, which you probably do, the antibiotics don't help anything. And if you're vomiting your antibiotics, you should quit taking them right now. Do you have red face? Do you have red small spots in your body spreading all the way from your chest to your legs?" Yes. I did. When I told him about the doctor wanting to take the blood tests only after five days of antibiotics, my father's answer was short and simple:" Well, tell him to go fuck himself! You go back to hospital immediately and take the blood tests!"

So off I went to Bumrungrad. I could not believe it. They booked me to the same doctor, even though I insisted on a specialist. The doctor asked me what brought me here this time! I told him we had agreed on the blood tests. I also asked about Dengue fever and told him I had those red spots all over my body, very similar to Dengue. He glanced behind his glasses very arrogantly and said: "Oh, so you have some rash?" He agreed to take the tests and after he got the results we sat down again. My liver's ASAT value was at 278. Normal people have that value around 35 to 45. My platelet count was down to 120 which means I had internal hemorrhaging going on. He said: "Oh yes, I know. You got sick from water! Please drink a lot of vitamin C. Goodbye." Only after two months back in Finland, I could read from his very bad hand-writing those nice set of words: Dengue hemorrhagic fever. Why the fuck he didn't have the balls to say that? And why he knew that, even though he did not have the brains to include Dengue sample in the blood test.

It was my third week of sickness and I was back in Finland, I had lost my appetite, but had no fever anymore. I went to a doctor who specialised in tropical diseases. It took about a week to get the results. I tested positive on Dengue hemorrhagic fever. I asked him about it and he gave me a lot of information. He also told me that every year about 20 million people get Dengue and 24,000 of them die.

Dengue has three different levels and the worst is the Dengue shock syndrome. If you have that, you will have to get in to ER within 12 hours. That way they can cure the shock in three days with fluids and of those treated only a small percentage die. So how's it going to be if you end up in Bumrungrad? The possibility to catch a Dengue shock syndrome is the greatest on a second time you catch the fever, though you can get it on a first time too. I also found out it is a very small possibility for a tourist to get the Dengue for a second time. It's a bigger problem for locals who might have had Dengue several times before in milder forms. The best thing to do right now is just to forget about Dengue. Which I did.

All I need to know is that the female Aedes Egypti mosquito flies around with her ass hanging down. She is clever, she does not make any sound. She bites only during the day time. But does she bite also outside rainy season? I don't know. But when she bites, she approaches from behind and under and bites on your back, on your ankles, on your legs. She bites through the clothing. So you need to have repellent on those T-shirts as well. I think I got the Dengue fever in Siam Square in a 450 baht a night hotel. I had several mosquito bites in my back, in my ankles. The hotel manager had several dogs and the dogs had several drinking cups. Aedes Egypti loves to lay her eggs on a clean water. I was studying my Thai for Beginners in front of the hotel, next to those cups. Fuck.

So should I worry about the possible Dengue shock syndrome for the rest of my life? I am returning to Bangkok in December. I will not care about Aedes Egypti mosquitoes. I will only care about my girl. She still writes me everyday. We talk on the phone everyday. I love those phone bills. And I love the way she speaks. I will not care about Aedes Egypti when I will ask her to marry me.

Finnish Viking

Stickman's thoughts:

Great story, but scary stuff! Interesting about Bumrungrad not meeting your expectations as it is generally regarded as the best hospital in Thailand.