Indonesia Travel

Struck With Dengue Fever In Indonesia

Surfboards On The Beach In Bali

Waking up in agony, and falling to sleep 12 hours later in the same state is no way to go about living your life. It’s even less of a way to do this when you’re in South East Asia experiencing what is supposed to be one of the highlights of your existence. But, it was my life when, without too much warning as these things are want to be, I came down with dengue fever a few weeks ago.

Sky high fevers and the strange feeling of cooking in my own, once tanned, skin were nothing compared to the beginning of the joint and muscle aches. Let’s just say they don’t call it break bone fever for nothing. In truth I wasn’t sure whether to curl up and try to die, or stretch out and let myself depart the world that way, at my full height. There’s really no relief to be found anywhere, unless overdosing on over the counter painkillers was how you saw your life coming to completion. As that was really not where I planned to be heading, there was nothing to do but wait out the fever for three days, and then go to the doctor to confirm that my misfortunes already had a name, and that name was dengue fever.

Blood tests, blood tests, blood tests (coincidentally also something I would become very familiar with as I fought to maintain my platelet levels) and the answers are clear. Yes, I have dengue fever. No, there’s nothing we can do for you, go home and rest, drink lots of water. Should you go to a hospital? Well, the jury’s out on that one. Lucky for me, I have travel insurance with a great health section (knew that was a good idea). But unlucky for me no expensive procedure is going to make my life more easy or less uncomfortable.

So all I could do is wait it out.


The boyfriend-turned-nurse and myself hole up in a little home stay in Sanur, seeing as that’s as far as we got before dengue struck. The proprietor is an easy-going guy, who doesn’t seem to have any issues with the fact that we rarely make it outside of the room, and when we do I’m a ghost of the person who checked in a few days prior. I struggle to do even the most simple of tasks, but with the patient (and occasionally no-nonsense) hand of the boyfriend I suffer through it all. The random muscle aches, the intense migrane-level headaches, the waves of nausea, until finally I appear to be on the last symptoms. Unbelievable, body-wide itching that starts on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet and just keeps on going. On the first night it’s so bad I nearly scratch my skin clear from my flesh, and I don’t even have long fingernails. It continues for days, and indeed as I’m writing this, now I should hope well into the recovery stage, it continues still. Occasional but intense itching that overtakes my entire body and leaves me either scratching like a crazy cat-lady with a serious case of fleas, or sitting rock still trying not to appear as a crazy cat-lady with fleas. Ah, what a life.

But, 10 long days (possibly more) after my original diagnosis it seems the universe has made it’s decision on one thing: I have survived dengue fever. I did not do it with grace. I did not do it without copious complaining, I did not do it the easy way but I’ll be dammed it if isn’t done. Now all I have to do is survive recovery (which joyously and totally without surprise I find can take up to a month) and get on with my life.

Want to avoid dengue (and note that the answer to that question is always yes), then here’s what you do!

  1. Wear as much mosquito repellent as you can bodily fit on your person without the immediate need to die from breathing in toxic chemicals. Then put on some more.
  2. That’s pretty much all you can do while travelling, so repeat often and without fail.
  3. Done


This post originally appeared on, the pre-evolved version of Maps And Mandalas. I’ve republished it here with its original date because I love it that much.

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