Friday, August 10, 2007

Dengue Journal Day 8: Dengue Deliverance

I don’t have dengue according to the latest test report. This is a good thing. This means I’m no longer ONE mosquito bite away from a potential hemorrhagic reaction; I, like everyone else down here who hasn’t been infected yet, am TWO mosquito bites away from potential hemorrhage. What a relief.

This dengue journey was brief but informative. First, I learned the word “viremia”, a noun that means “the presence of viruses in the bloodstream.” A great word which, when being your own doctor or just talking casually about infection, really gives you some med cred—don’t be afraid to use it. Second, I never thought about it before but the mosquito is, by far, the most dangerous animal to man with 2 to 3 million deaths/year. That figure puts into perspective the vastly smaller number of deaths caused by white sharks, grizzly bears and falling coconuts—creatures we more commonly associate with deadly danger. It’s something to think about. And finally, speaking of coconuts and hemorrhage, I wanted to share my primary tropical medicine goal—that of being the first American since WWII to be saved by a coconut IV.

So what did I have? Consults with one of New Zealand’s top specialists narrowed the options down to pretty much any virus other than dengue or typhoid. Since the headache is pretty much totally gone and I feel fine otherwise, I am until further notice. Many thanks for your wishes for a speedy recovery. Many thanks also to you anonymous internet dengue researchers that contributed sources to this entry.

After watching Adam lie in bed moaning for a week and then get misdiagnosed with typhoid, I finally went to the pharmacy today and bought him a course of Cipro—an antibiotic that is very conveniently available here in Mexico without a prescription! Even though it says on the box, “Su venta requiere receta médica”! (“Receta,” as I learned almost immediately upon arrival in Ensenada, meaning “prescription.”) While Adam taking antibiotics makes me feel better—not least because we're supposed to be having a baby in three weeks—it may not really speak to the illness at hand. According to the Mexicans I’ve talked to, he probably has something called “chipil”—which, they say, men contract before the birth of their first child. If it’s not dengue, it’s “la panza” (the belly), they shrug. Chipil is some sort of sympathetic illness that medicine won’t cure, characterized by—well, exactly the symptoms he’s been having! My Mexican friend down the street explained that the baby was taking Adam’s energy, too—drawing on both parents’ bodies as it gathers the strength to be born. I like that egalitarian notion—I like it very much.

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