Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating One Month Left - Dengue Style

The 12th of this month marked a month left of my Peace Corps journey!! What did I do to celebrate? I was curled up in the fetal position in a budget guesthouse in Phnom Penh and watching ridiculous movies like "She's Out of My League" and "2012".

On Monday I came down with a fever, chills, mind numbing headache, and sore eyes. At first I thought it wasn't that big of a deal because the fever was less than 102. Also I've been spending alot of time with young kids who are walking petri dishes of diseases and thought it was just a little something picked up from them. By Wednesday, though, I had developed a body rash and my appetite was nil so I made the call to our Peace Corps Medical Officer. Immediately I was whisked away to Phnom Penh to undergo the blood tests to determine if what I had was just a typical virus or it was the Big D - dengue.

What is dengue? It is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes and symptoms include "a fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising)" (CDC). it is known asd "bone-break fever" because of the intesnse muscle and bone pain associated with the disease.

Luckily, my symptoms were not that bad (with the exception of an incredible headache). Every day for six days, I had to go into the Peace Corps Office to get blood drawn and have it tested to see what my white blood cell and blood platelet counts were. My white blood cells were low nearly everyday while the platelets were in the normal range. If the platelets get low then there is a chance of developing hemorrhagic dengue.

Over a week of having symptoms and hiding out in a hotel room in Phnom Penh, I finally got a clean bill of health today! I am looking forward to getting back to Svay Rieng and getting work done. I'll just need to be a bit more careful about mosquitoes once I get back. Now that I've had dengue once I am more susceptible to getting hemorrhagic dengue (the same as ordinary dengue except you bleed from orifices like your eyeballs etc.... think '28 Days Later').

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