So I posted this photo on Instagram a few weeks ago when they were mosquito fogging in the village. This basically involves coming into every compound in the village with machines that pump some kind of poisonous smoke into the air that kills off the mosquitos. I was not best pleased about it at the time, as being Indonesia, I was pretty sure they were using DDT or something horribly toxic to humans as well as mozzies (and any other insects judging by the number of half-dead cockroaches that came crawling out of the drain).
I ran and shut myself inside when I heard them coming (the machines sound like lawnmowers) but it didn’t do much good as the smoke seeps in through any little crack and then is actually trapped inside so I had to go out anyway and be totally surrounded in white smog smelling of petrol. Nice. Maybe you can get an idea of my terror from the photo I snapped of the smoke starting to pour through the ventilation holes in the wall (kids were out with made, luckily).
Anyway the purpose of this mosquito cull was to try and curb the tide of dengue fever that’s been sweeping through our village (and the rest of Bali) recently. We’ve had an unseasonably wet ‘dry season’ this year, meaning there are a lot more mosquitos around, along with all the nasty diseases they carry. Luckily malaria is very rare in Bali but there are plenty of other horrible things you can catch.
Let me tell you a little about dengue fever. You catch it from mosquitos that bite in the daytime, rather than at night. This means that most mosquito protection such as nets and spray is useless as people only use them in the evenings (yes you can use spray or lotion any time but I tend not to use it at all as I don’t want chemicals sitting on my skin every day). You can spot the mosquitos that carry dengue quite easily as they are black and white stripy.
Made’s mother was first to go with a raging headache and fever for 3 days before we took her to the hospital to get checked out. I started feeling like I was getting unwell (achey feeling and fuzzy head) and thought it was probably the start of a cold. The next afternoon and night the fever hit me as I felt freezing cold after my shower with hot water and went to bed wearing long clothes, socks, a fleece and a blanket. That night I had no idea if I was dreaming or hallucinating half the night as I was basically delirious. We no longer have a working thermometer so I don’t know how high my temperature got but high enough to make you feel like you’re tripping is pretty common.
The fever was followed by an incessant headache that paracetamol didn’t touch, nausea, lack of appetite and a constant bitter taste in my mouth that made everything taste off. There’s no treatment for dengue fever, it’s just a case of keeping fluids up and waiting it out. I constantly chugged water from the first night of fever (I actually had a raging thirst all night and was constantly thirsty) but Made’s mother ended up in hospital with dehydration.
After the fever abates is the fun stage where you can die from internal bleeding but obviously I didn’t die. Dengue destroys your blood platelets so your blood stops clotting properly and it can be dangerous to take ibuprofen or aspirin, which thins the blood. The final stage when you’re nearing recover is the rash. Oh the rash! So by this point I’m feeling ok but i’m covered head to toe in a red rash which itches like crazy. I had to take my wedding ring off because I was scratching my hands so much, all my fingers swelled up.
Oh I was feeling so sorry for myself. Plus on top of this I had the kids to look after on my own most of the day as the rest of the family were visiting meme in hospital. This was over the time of a big ceremony and poor made had to do everything himself while I let dvds babysit the kids.
By the time you get the rash, you know the worst is over only you’re knackered and have no energy. Right on the tail of getting over the dengue I came down with a terrible stomach bug (oh by the way it also wrecks your immune system). I woke Made up in the middle of the night because I felt so terrible and he wanted to take me to hospital because apparently I’d gone completely white. I managed to fob him off until 6am when he insisted on taking me, came back with a bag of medicine and proceeded to sleep for 24 hours. No joke. Honestly I have never been so wiped out in all my life.
So there you go, that’s why I haven’t been around the last couple of weeks. Let me tell you, dengue is no joke and judging from some other accounts I’ve read, I had a very mild case of it. I’m now trying to catch up with all my work after not being able to do anything for 2 weeks and that is also no joke. I’m actually starting to feel like I’ll never catch up.
Anyway, I’m having another rethink about work as I never seem to be on top of it. I’m still working way more than i’d like and not spending as much time as I’d like with the kids. I’ve taken on a couple of interesting new writing jobs lately which involve me doing fun activities and going out and researching child-friendly things to do in Bali so I guess that will help. But i’m going to be looking at cutting things down next month – being so sick really makes your realise what’s important and I don’t want to spend every day sitting at the computer and not spending time with the kids, even if it means we’re broke forever. Once I can get our debts paid off we’ll have loads of breathing space but I think that’s a few years to come yet. Sigh.
So in other news, it is my birthday tomorrow! After several years of expecting Made to do something and being disappointed, I have come to terms with the fact that the Balinese just don’t do birthdays so I am making my own fun. Nothing spectacular but I’m planning on having a child-free day, doing no work (even though I’m miles behind) and going out for lunch with a friend. Not expecting any presents but I may treat myself to a Frankie magazine Oh and cake of course!
We also have a fun family mini-break coming up soon, which I am very excited about!
I can’t believe I have drivelled on for 1000+ words about my tropical illness. Bet you are all riveted! Till next time