After 10+ days, I am resurfacing from the dead. Where have I been? I contracted Dengue Fever in India.
On October 16th I took an overnight bus to Hampi, the UNESCO world heritage site located just about 7 hours outside of Bangalore. As you can imagine I was pretty exhausted when I arrived. I laid down to rest when I got a phone call in a language I didn’t understand. I had spent the week prior in an orphanage and one of the women working there had told her two sisters and cousin that I was coming to Hampi. Unknown to me, the three women had taken the day off to spend with me and were calling to meet up with me. I pulled myself together and met them off of their bus.
We enjoyed a few hours together but I was feeling extremely exhausted. We agreed to spend Diwali together in their home that Thursday and that I would take the next day or so to rest. That night I got an unbearable headache and fever. I didn’t know it yet but Dengue Fever had hit me. I was texting with some of my best friends from home Caleb & Liz telling them how awful I felt. My Indian friend Tony, who I met hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, was constantly checking on me to see if I was feeling any better. Things quickly escalated to the point where I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. My body and head pain was so acute that I was almost crying and no pain killers were helping. I knew I had to go to the hospital.
That Thursday, I didn’t celebrate Diwali in Asha’s home but instead she came to get me and took me to a hospital. The hospital tried to charge me 3,000 rupees for a 300 rupee service. Asha called her brother in law and we went to another hospital. By having a man around, we were able to get care much more quickly and for a reasonable price. Even though the service was better in the second hospital it was still extremely unsanitary. Before taking my temperature, I watched the woman rinse the thermometer with tap water before sticking it in my mouth. It wasn’t however the time for me to be picky…we got my blood work done which confirmed Dengue Fever. The hospital prescribed some medications which I started taking immediately. I vomited and then we went on our way. I tried booking a hotel in Hospet (the town I was in) but almost everything was booked because of Diwali. I finally found a hotel, not in the best of areas, and booked it for two nights. Asha, clearly one of my guardian angels decided to stay with me in the hotel. I am so glad she did because she was with me during the loud knocking on the hotel door in the middle of the night and when I woke up feeling awful and vomiting. The next day I knew I had to get out of Hospet and go back to Bangalore, a bigger city where I could get quality care.
The only transportation option was an overnight bus which I was not willing to take. Uber & Ola were not available in Hospet and I was not able to find a taxi service that would take me to Bangalore. I started reaching out to people on CouchSurfing for help. I finally found someone who said they could organize a taxi for me. After much back and forth, trying to convince me to first visit their family doctor, the taxi came to the hotel for me. Tony was a rock for me during this entire time, although he was studying for exams in another part of India, he was with me every step of the way calling me multiple times a day to make sure I was okay. He had me send him pictures of the taxi license plate, the drivers name and phone number to ensure I was safe. Asha at the last minute decided to take the 7 hour taxi ride with me and then take it 7 hours back just to make sure I was okay. In a place where I knew nobody, I had strangers looking out for me.
The taxi dropped me at the emergency room of Fortis Hospital in Bangalore. There I was given IV fluids, injections, and medications. They took a look at what the prior hospital has subscribed me and told me to stop those drugs immediately. I was released from the hospital at 1am with no where to go…the nurse was incredibly kind and helped me find a hotel. I spent the next 3 days in bed, resting, and trying to stay hydrated. Unfortunately it was very difficult to eat good meals as there was not much around and I didn’t have the energy to venture out. I ended up becoming very weak and 3 days later I was admitted into hospital where I was given food, hydration, and my platelet count was monitored. I spent two nights in the hospital. When I was released I reached out to a friend of a friend who was living in a hotel in Bangalore and here on business from NYC. Although he had never met me before, he invited me to come stay with him in his hotel for as long as I needed. I have been here 3 nights now and am finally regaining my strength. Its been a long road and I am so grateful for all my friends and family who came through for me. Without my Aunt I would have never had insurance coverage for my stay at the hospital. Caleb, Liz, Sarah and Shannon gave me emotional support that I needed during a really difficult time. Tony made me feel taken care of and looked out for me every step of the way. Asha took care of me when I literally had nobody. Donnie gave me a home to recover in when I had nowhere else to go. I thank all my lucky stars and the universe for looking out for me.
This was certainly not how I wanted to spend 10+ days but now I’m on the other side… The adventure must go on! With a ton of mosquito spray of course 🙂
Jenna, I am so sorry you had to endure this illness. I knew someone who had it so I’m glad to hear you are recovering. Is there anything I can do for you at this point?
Thanks Barb – thankfully I am feeling much better 🙂
Jenna, I am glad to hear that you are OK now, what an adventure! I will continue to pray for you and your continued journey.
I’m very relieved that your platelet count came back up. My ED doctor friend said it would last 10 days so you are definitely out of the woods. Not surprised that the public hospital tried to room you or that having a man with you changed the dynamic. But, you’re okay and it is all part of the experience of traveling in that part of the world!!!
Thank you for all your help and advice during – I really appreciated it 🙂
Jenna, so happy and relieved that you are on your way to recovery. Despite the friendliness of others it still must have been a very scary experience with many dark moments. The little girl I once knew has obviously grown up to be an amazing young woman with great fortitude and resilience.
Just wanted you to know that your comment made me smile 🙂
Troubling story, so glad you’re doing feeling better! XOXO
Damn Jenna such a bad luck! Really happy you are feeling better, wish you a fast full recovery.
Keep strong and keep traveling! Kisses from Barcelona.
Jenna you are a true fighter! Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I can’t imagine how scary it must have been. I am so relieved that you are getting good care. It’s wonderful to hear about all the people who went above and beyond for you. Talk to you tonight, love you to the moon and back. ❤️
I’m so thankful you are on the upswing and that there were people in your path to help you along the way. What a scary, eye opening and inspiring story all in one.
Hey Jenna, This is the first that I knew of your situation. So sorry to hear this news but so glad that the universe has supported you in all the ways that you have described in your blog. Please send me an email if you find yourself in another very challenging situation; I will always do whatever I can do to help you, in whatever way I can. Thinking of you. Much love & a massive hug, A. Nother Aunty xxxxx
Terrible to hear you had to go through this and go through it in a foreign place. Glad you as lineable person and that you have good friends looking out for you
Dengue is very dangerous and a scourge for the people of South Asia. I’m so glad your feeling better I can’t even imagine what is just have felt like.
Glad you are recovering. Even in this unfortunate story, there is a spirit of thankfulness n forward movement. Good for you.
Jenna, what an ordeal! So very glad you are feeling stronger and in better health. Thankfully others were watching out for you.
Gosh, Jenna — you look miserable in that picture! I’m glad you’re feeling better! One thing I learned in my journeying through Samui is that the extract of the papaya leaf will treat dengue symptoms. Good news is that you can only contract each type of dengue once, but bad news is that there are four types. Hopefully, you never contract dengue again; but if you do, find a papaya tree (which shouldn’t be difficult in SE Asia), grind the leaves, squeeze out the juice in fistfuls, and then drink the bitter wonderfulness that results. You can sweeten with honey, if needed. However, I’m sure if you have dengue you won’t give a shit about whether your cure is bitter or not. By the way, I will be back in Thailand in December. If you’ll be around, let me know. Anyhow, good luck on your continued journeys. I was just in Bali a few weeks ago, and it was great!
Haha thanks Jason! Always full of valuable information 🙂 Have a blast in Thailand- I’ll still be in India and then headed to Japan. Keep me posted on your travels!
You are a strong woman so I am not surprised you pushed through! I am glad you are doing well and continuing your journey.