Of Mosquitoes and Needles
I have never allowed illness to interfere with any of my activities – especially my work – but one teeny weeny, evil mosquito managed to bring me down last week! I suddenly developed very high fever, couldn’t hold anything down – not even water and medicine. I struggled with this state for 5 – 6 days before my doctor advised me to go get a saline drip. He said it sounded as if I was losing too much fluid.
So I went to the emergency room of the hospital closest to me – the AKU – where I was told that I couldn’t be given a drip simply because I wanted one. I asked to see the doctor on duty so he/she could attend to me but was told that the Emergency room was full and that I would have to wait 3 to 4 hours.
I felt I would die if I had to wait that long so I phoned my friend Afia who asked me to head for the National Medical Centre where she would arrange for a doctor friend to organize a drip. On reaching NMC, I was attended to very quickly. I was given a saline drip as well as medicine to stop the vomitting. While I was there, they took a complete blood count and discovered that my platelet count had gone down from 150,000 to 85,000 in 24 hours. By then other friends – Rukhsana, Zak, Nuzhat, Ghazala, etc. had gathered around me and a joint decision was made to move me to OMI where I would be admitted until the platelet count was brought under control. I resisted a bit asking why I couldn’t just go home but of course no-one was listening.
At OMI, Dr. Tasneem Ahsan diagnosed me with classic Dengue fever. Whenever we read about any epidemic in the paper, or hear about it on radio or television, we never associate it with happening to us. It is always associated with someone else – especially when the numbers being quoted are 560 out of a city of millions. Well, it did happen to me – as it did to Erum (of Alchemy) last year. Maybe Jawwad Farid breeds the dengue mosquito. Should I sue him do you think? Naah he is a nice guy.
Dengue (pronounced den’ gee) is a disease caused by any one of four closely related viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, or DEN-4). The viruses are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The main symptoms are high fever, nausea, vomitting and intense pain. Platelet count drops to an extent whereby haemorrhaging can occur hence monitoring of the platelet count is extremely important.
I have been in hospital many times but never as a patient. I had spent weeks and months in various hospitals with my mother when she was ailing and needed attention. I must admit now that being a patient yourself is very different from being a caregiver. I felt absolutely traumatized and at the mercy of doctors and nurses.
From the hospital clothes (which appear to be designed to take away ones self respect), to the umpteen needles, to the total handing over of control of yourself to other people, it is the scariest experience I have ever had. I am a person who has always taken care of others. This was the first time that I had no control at all, and I felt completely helpless. I understood now what my mother must have felt all those times she was in hospital.
I had tried to make her as comfortable as possible – just as all these people were trying to do for me – my friends, my father, the hospital staff but hospitals just aren’t any fun – and the sooner one is out of them, the better.
Simple things like the value of being able to use both hands was brought home to me when one of my hands was out of commission due to the drip and the canola.
I have loads of people to thank for making my hospital stay bearable:
1. Dr. Ghazala Aziz who insisted I go to OMI rather than agree to being admitted to NMC
2. My old school friends Afia and Rukhsana who took charge and wouldn’t even allow my rudeness to discourage them from taking care of me.
3. Afia’s daughter Farieha, my friends Zak, Nuzhat and Naheed – all of whom took turns staying with me. I was not allowed to be alone for even a few minutes.
4. Jawwad, Fawzia & Uzma – for the huge cartons of juices, crackers, cheese and olives which provided variety to the cuisine
5. Barrister Shahida Jamil for the lovely flowers you see above
6. My siblings and friends who called from all corners of the globe many times
7. The many friends and family members who phoned, emailed, visited and brought flowers to keep me in good cheer (especially in the absence of wifi connectivity) and of course my father who worried and prayed constantly for me to get back to good health.
I am now back home in the comfort of my own room, resting and rebuilding my strength. The withdrawal symptoms of being kept away from my Apple MacBook Pro and my internet connection, are fading away. Hopefully in a few days I will be back to normal. Being ill is no fun at all!
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