I Went To Work While Having Dengue And Didn’t Even Know It

We talk about dengue like it’s this monster of a sickness we always have to be wary of. While that’s true, the implication there is that dengue is something we should easily spot. But the dangerous reality is that it’s not. It takes on such common symptoms that we can’t really distinguish it from a regular bout of sickness. That is, at least, until it gets bad. 

Luckily, the ‘getting bad’ never happened to me. I was able to scrape by because it was my first time having dengue. Apparently, it only becomes worse and worse the more often you contract it. 

The truth of how I got through having dengue without actual treatment is that I convinced myself it was just the flu. It started how most flus do, after all: body aching, general weakness, and spikes of fever. Although I could tell something was off because I’d never been quite so drained I still told myself I was just tired. 

(Yes, You’re Sick But That Doesn’t Mean You’re Weak)

As it got worse over the next few days and passed the 3 day mark of a “safe” fever I rationalized that my immune system was just weaker than usual. I was rarely even bitten by mosquitoes, so regardless of how many times my family asked me to get checked for dengue I refused. Plus, I had a cold! A cold was definitely a symptom of the flu and not dengue. 

I learned later on that the cold was most likely the result of some long-term allergies. Ironically enough, when my dengue rashes came out I waved those away as allergies. My sickness was really just a long game of back and forth, lying to myself about how sick and tired I really felt. 

Throughout all this I was trying to live life just like usual. I was writing and submitting work deliverables. I would help around the household — cooking, washing dishes, walking the dog, and all the rest. I refused to give in and admit I was feeling less than well. I was even a little optimistic because my fever did break on the fourth night…only to come back worse the following morning. That, I learned later on, was also a tell of dengue. 

(10 Signs You’re Overworking Yourself And Need To Take A Break)

It was only at the end that I found out I was seriously sick. After 7 days of working through a near-constant fever I gave in and saw a doctor. But the very day I went into the hospital also happened to be the day my fever did break — for real, this time. So I got checked and had tests run on my blood, all the while simply doing it to humor my mom’s request. When I got my blood results back I learned there were no active traces of dengue in my system…anymore. It did, however, indicate that I had recently contracted it.

By that time there was nothing to do about it because I’d just gotten over it on my own. But that didn’t stop my mom from lecturing me (a grown and working adult) on how I have to stop lying to myself about how sick I feel.

I’ve always had an aversion to taking my own sicknesses seriously. I have the mentality that if I’m not dying, then I can still do everything else. But the danger in that — for me and all the other workaholics who think like this — is that it might one day actually kill you. 

So remember that it’s important to acknowledge the stress your body is going through and to know its limits. Don’t push yourself to the brink just for the sake of work or productivity. Be kind to yourself.

What do you think about this?

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Disclaimer: Dengue is usually detected by a sudden onset of fever for 2 to 7 days, and at least two of the following symptoms: headache, body weakness, joint and muscle pains, pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and rashes. If you suspect yourself to have it, do get checked by a medical professional. 


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