Updated: Nov 8, 2020
by Rome C Dias
Out The Blue
"Come home, lunch is ready" my wife texted me on Wednesday, October 28th. My office is a 5-7 minute walk away from my house. I picked the location so I could stop and spend time with my wife and kids and still be close enough to provide support to my clients and local moving teams during my work week. I that kind of husband, dad and team player.
In between busy periods, I get to enjoy the freedom of not having to sit inside an office all day. Since I am a busy body, I like to run to relax. My office is located right next to a park with a long track, beautiful groves of oaks trees, and nestled right at the foot of a mountain. I regularly pop out of the office for a walk or run the park. Its a beautiful scene altogether.
This week was no different. The weather was getting a little cooler, but other than that, nothing really significant enough to change my routine. I'm an old man set in his ways. I glance down at my wife's text and sent her a picture of the bowl of cereal I was eating.
"I'm not really hungry. Reading, and thinking of a theme to study" I responded. Then I asked out of curiosity "what's on the menu?". She told me fettuccine alfredo with sliced skinless, chickenbreast. I told her I'll be there in 10 minutes. I do have my weaknesses.
Walking the Green Mile
It was another beautiful day, I enjoyed the walk to the house. My wife was home with our two boys, homeschooling and taking care of things as always. I washed my hands, and sat down as she served me a bowl. I did not hesitate, it was gone within 5 minutes.
Shortly after I finished the last bite, my head started spinning. I didn't know what was going on. I laid my head down on the table for a few minutes and tried to collect myself without raising an alarm. I simply could not recover from the dizziness and the tired feeling that was beginning to bring me down. Then I started to feel insanely hot!
My first thought was food poisoning or bad chicken. I figured I would lay down and take the rest of the day off. Little did I know I was about to go for a ride through hell and back. I laid my head down, the bouts did not hesitate to begin. Hot/cold chills, sweating profusely, fever, joint pains that felt bone & soul crushing - the next morning I felt beyond weak.
A lodge brother of mine is also a doctor. I sent him a quick message. Dr. Angel Morales rapidly responded. "Sore throat? Can you taste & smell?" the brain doctor was asking all the questions a general practioneer would ask a person in a regular consultation.
"Mosquito bites?" He added. I started answering the first series of questions. The doctor is also my brother, we spar alot mentally so he knows when I am being evasive. He reasked the question "Mosquito bites, this could be Dengue" - tis the season. He knows my routine and where I live.
"Its possible. I do run in the park night & day." I satisfied the doctors inquiries. He tells me what I need to grab & get ready for.
The Doctor, The Brother, The Angel
"This is going to be a fight, you will need to keep me posted regularly. I will need daily updates on your temperture, and we will need some blood work" Angel tells me in the matter-of-fact manner doctors are accustomed to using when playing the part of the messenger of not-so-good news. I understand the act.
My temperture was jumping up and down, and sometimes the readings didn't necessarily match how I was feeling. Some readings, the fever was above average, sometimes it dropped back to the normal and moderate fever range. There were moments when I felt like I was back to normal, then I would walk to the kitchen and feel like I was going to collapse.
I sat in the lukewarm shower, water cascading from the top of my head, streaming down my spine and into the drain. I sat in the shower for 15-20 minutes, no thought in mind. A clear head in the midst of chaos. I opened my mouth and let out a silent, powerful scream - the yell ripped through my center, it shook heaven & earth.
I was frustrated, I was sick, I was going to fight - but I was also going to appear like a strong and confident husband before his wife, a father in control in front of his children, a man of character in the face of a painful sickness. Inside, I was just a man staring into the face of a mystery. I never had Dengue before. I did not know what to expect. To me, it was a battle of life & death, a test of my faith & courage, a random check on my character.
The first 72 hours was basically the same nightmare over and over. I felt like I was Bill Murray in Groundhog day, repeating the same cycle of torture over and over. The story of Sisyphus and his rock came to mind. I couldn't let my mind play it tricks right now. I politely asked it to shut up - unfortunately, my mind is a trickster who doesn't take well to being commanded.
Mercury The Trickster
"Ruth, I feel a lot better today" I told my wife as the sun was beginning to bring in the light of the new day. I grabbed a broom and began to sweep the floor, my moment of redemption has arrived. Nope, false alarm. I got incredibily dizzy and felt weak again. I got back in bed.
It was definetely a roller-coaster ride, ups & downs with fevers, emotions, thoughts and my levels of energy. I kept my humor, I tried to write under the morbid spell. The doctor was a big fan of the idea. Keeping yourself mentally sharp and work with the material you have is key when healing. But, like most of my written works, delete or thrown away. Not for public viewing, Mount Olympus was proud of my acts.
"Mary will stop by tomorrow morning around 7 to take your blood and urine" my wife reminds me before my nightly battle. "No water or food after 10PM". That's trickster mind of mine must have heard her, it accepted the challenge.
1:23AM "ahhh, I cannot take it. I have to drink water" my body was soaked. I was sweating from head to toe. My body was on fire, my stomach felt like it was about to open and split my body in half. I was disoriented and I had no clue what was going on. It was an attack of foreign bodies, they were there to take the life of the king. My wife hands me a cup of water.
All of the sudden the heat, the pain, the moment of insanity had all come to a stop. I felt as if my soul was somehow floating the cosmos and I was laying in its cold stream. It was like a balloon popped and dropped me into a new reality. Silence. I fell back to sleep.
The next morning, Mary arrived and took the morning urine, untainted by food. When she stuck the needle in for a blood draw, I began to sweat and my head began to spin again. I tried to focus, but apparently my focus took me into another zone.
Snap, snap, "Rome, are you with us", Mary was not going to let me slide off on her watch. My wife stands behind me holding me up as I sat in the chair. Ruth explained to Mary what just happened a few hours back.
The Head of Nurses
Mary is a personal friend who also runs a nursing company. We have been friends for more than 10 years. This was the first time anyone has really seen me get sick. She has been actively involved in the fight against COVID. She has literally walked people across the threshold of life and death - regularly.
The dizziness was overwhelming, I almost vomited. Mary is a good nurse. She was able to see that my symptoms were a sign of low-sugar, amongst other things. She whipped up some sugar water and told Ruth to make sure I drink it. She told me my results will be ready by 1PM. She had COVID in mind, but, like Dr. Angel Morales, she felt it was easy for us to dismiss it.
"Angel, I got the results" I tell my brother via WhatsApp. I sent him the lab results. Within minutes he interpets that foriegn data for me and replies.
"Congratulations brother, you have Dengue. Its because of the mosquito bites." he texted me back, along with a a treatment plan which basically consisted of what we were already doing. I have been taking paracetamol for 6 days by then.
The same morning Mary hit me with the needle, diarrhea decided to sneak in. By the next day, I was feeling fine. No fever, the body sorness had mysteriously vanished, my energy was stable and rising. Despite feeling better, I still haven't had the courage to go to the park for a run.
"How are you feeling, bro" Dr. Angel sent me a text. I told him all is good and I feeling like man newly resurrected.
"That's good," he said "just use bug repellent next time you go running, dumba*s". Yep, that's the brotherly love and sage-like advice The Sacred Fraternity is known for. I knew I was back to normal.
Dengue is a virus spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species (Ae. aegypti or Ae. albopictus) mosquito. Unlike other mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti is a daytime feeder; its peak biting periods are early in the morning and before dusk in the evening.
According to CDC, up to 400 million people get infected with dengue yearly worldwide. Approximately 100 million people get sick from infection, and 22,000 die from severe dengue annually.
Don't be me, don't be a dumba*s, wear repellent.