Dengue Fever!

 It was an ordinary Monday like many other Mondays around July last year 2013. However, I was really tired and sleepy that day. No, it wasn’t the Monday Blues. This sleepiness continued throughout the week. I persevered and survived till Friday. Friday, yes!! It was finally time to play the online game that I had downloaded and installed: Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR). As I waited impatiently for the game to install the final features, I was still in my school uniform; I played several online internet games.

And finally, it was fully installed. I went in, checked in a server and chose my first character, a Jedi knight (Jedi Guardian and named my character “Ryanconstantine” [Swtor players who want to know, I’m a F2P, this character is completed storyline, Level 50]. I played for a joyful two hours [I was three hours on the computer already]. As I adventured through the woods of the planet Tython, killing every flesh raider that faced me, in my very own human body, my tiredness became worse. I quickly stopped playing and went to take a bath.

My bath water was warm, yet as the drops of water were sprayed on me, I shivered and my head started to ache. I quickly finished my bath and went to take a short nap, praying to the Lord that it would go away as it was the first retreat for the then RCIY inquirers and ourselves the sponsors. It didn’t work, of course. I stayed upstairs till my parents called me down for dinner. I told them I might have fever, and indeed it was. To my dismay, they forbade me to go to church on that Saturday. Now as I see it, it was for the best.

On Saturday, my condition worsened. As requested, Elizabeth, the coordinator for RCIY gave me a morning call and I told her that I was not feeling well. Back then, my parents had thought that it was just  a normal cold. Only several hours later, in the Emergency ward in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, did my blood test positive for Dengue Fever. My mother who was there with me, and I myself suffered a brief shock. It wasn’t the first time I had caught such a life-threatening disease.  I caught H1N1 in 2009.

Oh, when I was resting at the A&E Ward, I thought to myself: Very sick patients would appreciate  a pillow. I only had blankets when I waited for the Blood-Test results and then, after being there from 3pm+ to 12am,  I was finally warded at the Communicable Disease Centre. I stayed at the CDC for about five days.

Dengue Fever is a disease and not even the greatest doctors in the world havecreated a cure or a vaccine for it. A vaccine, especially in regions like Singapore with a tropical climate, would be useful and it would protect people from this virus; even if an Aedes mosquito bites you, it’s going to be like a normal mosquito bite because of the vaccine. Too bad, there is no such asset at present. God gives strength and grace to scientists who are always working to create such “miracles” for the benefit of mankind.

So, at the CDC, at around 1am+, I was brought to my C-class ward. All the other patients were also dengue patients. My breakfast was  noodles which I never liked but still had to eat in order to gain some strength.  Thank God there was meat. However, everything had no taste  so  I asked for salt from the nurses. No matter how much salt I put in, there was no taste. Tasteless.  I asked my aunt ( two weeks after my quarantine) who also had dengue before if she had experienced the same tastelessness. It was quite funny as I was able to taste the sweetness of  Milo. So there I was, trying my best to eat as much as I could.

I also surveyed the surroundings of the ward. There was another Chinese man and two more Indian gentlemen. I knew at first sight that they were not locals at all; they were foreign migrant workers. I suspected that they were construction workers as construction sites were habitats for mosquitos in the Dengue Epidemic of 2013. The Chinese gentleman was a Chinese national while the two Indians were either Indian or Bangladeshi nationals. I was the only Singaporean there in that ward for that day. I looked at what the Indians were having for breakfast. They were blessed to have ‘spicy noodles with coconut milk.

My mother and actually my whole maternal family are/were devout buddhists. Some waver in their beliefs. As for my mother, I think it’s safe to say that she’s one of us – Catholic –  but she still has yet to go through the Sacraments of Initiation. For that, I always try my best to convince her to sign up for RCIA, but to no avail, and she is always saying that she will join after her retirement. Sometimes, I think to myself –  I’m not successful in asking the Catholic members of my family to go to church, so how can I persuade the only non-believer in the family? Enough of that.  That’s another story for another day. Having written this, you should already know, they believe in all kinds of superstitious hocus-pocus (which sometimes annoy me greatly).

And so my aunts decided with my mom that giving me Traditional Frog soup would help me recover more quickly. The soup tastes fine when it is warm enough but let it cool down and it will start to smell rancid. Think of the taste and smell of a frog!  Yup, it was all right  to eat such a “delicacy”. Still, I think it wasn’t the soup but the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that kept me strong.There I rested for a while and managed to transfer to a private room for a single patient.  It was an improvement but I still longed to be at home to sleep on my own bed.

In the evening, during the visiting hours 5:30-8:30, four of my RCIY friends visited me. This is one of the main reasons why I prefer my church friends rather than the other friends I have. I know that the community will always pray for me. The feeling is good – that I will never be alone, and that my brothers and sisters are always there with me when my world is in turmoil. All of them, in fact, and not only those who are acquainted with you are with you. It is the whole universal church praying for one another, and even for non believers. Such love!

So, the four friends who visited me were Jude, my Godfather, Eugene, Shaun and Joshua Jeremiah. They were there to keep me company and they told me what had gone on during the retreat that I couldn’t go because of my illness. They told me not to worry about RCIY but to rest and to fully recover before coming back to church. They even brought some drinks for me, and how it was really useful. Thank the Lord for these friends!

So that pretty sums up the event of dengue fever. When one has Dengue Fever, one just have to get immediate treatment and stay indoors during the quarantine period.  Staying indoors is to prevent the virus from spreading around. Yes it is possible. according to the doctors who treated me, that any ordinary mosquito that bites, when the virus is still active in the patient’s body, will be transmitted to that particular mozzie and if it bites another host (of blood), that poor person will end up being the next unfortunate victim.  Just stay at home.

Truth be told, being home is good enough than still being in that 1940s hospital type,the CDC. No television, and no trace of the outside world in there. Then thinking about it, it’s a kind of great place to have a retreat, nah just kidding. But this type of “no trace of the outside world’ atmosphere is really a good place for a retreat. Indeed, I found praying in hospital more effective than praying outside the hospital as there was no trace of any distraction at all.

So, I went home on the fifth day of my illness. It was the critical stage but my body had regained much strength. My godfather continued to send me text messages me everyday to ask how I was. Indeed all fathers/ godfathers would always want to look out for their sons/ godsons. The next day after my discharge from hospital was a luxury. It was a mini-holiday for me as I did what I knew best. I played SWTOR everyday and leveled up my character in no time. In the three weeks  I was already Level 31, having killed the antagonist enemy of Jedi Knight Storyline Chapter 1, Darth Angral and I was already in the mid-point of my missions in the planet Balmorra in chapter 2.

Then it was time to go back to school. I was very happy to rejoin my brethren in Christ to worship our Lord. This is my recount as a dengue patient. Indeed, when I was hospitalized and quarantined, the isolation gave me a good time to do many reflections on my life and to pray more to improve my relationship with the Lord. Praise be to our Lord!

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