Category Archives: Dengue Diaries

Dengue Diaries: Final

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries under ‘Dengue Diaries’.

Monday.

We go through the morning routine of drawing blood again and waiting for the results.

A’s report shows a count of 57,000. There‘s no drop, but no increase either. We hope it‘s the nadir and that it will start rising from now. Just in case, we have a few friends lined up for transfusion.

It’s an uneventful day for me at the hospital. I spent most of the day by myself. My blood count has shown a good increase – 100k. The doctor says that I can go home .But I have to wait for J to complete the discharge process. In the meantime, the paediatrician informs us that A’s BP and all other vital signs look good and if the evening blood test show a significant increase, then he can go home.

J has taken his laptop and some DVDs to the hospital today to relieve A from his boredom. He watches his latest favourite movie ‘Megamind’! The IV fluid is still running and he develops some itching. There are no rashes, but he, too, is given the anti-allergy medicine. Soon, his blood results are in – 84,000.  The doctor announces that A can go home now;  he has a gleeful smile on his face! By the time the discharge formalities are done and they get home, its late evening.

It’s too late to start my discharge process now, so I spend another night at the hospital and go home the next afternoon, happy that the ordeal is over.

But tough luck!

The following morning when I wake up, I get dizzy and land up in the hospital again diagnosed with very low BP and an extended 2 day stay.

Prologue:

It’s exactly a year today when I finally came back from the hospital. The only silver lining in this whole fracas was that   my younger son, though diagnosed with dengue, didn’t need to be hospitalised. He was safe at home under the loving care of his paternal grandmother.

It took me an entire month to get back to normal, nurtured by my mom who went to lengths to feed me with a variety of nutritious food- I was specially advised to eat pomegranates and papaya leaf juice to boost the platelet counts. (though I’m not sure if there’s any scientific evidence to back this.) My older son A, fortunately recovered in a week and was able to resume school quickly.

The rise in dengue cases and resulting death in the city in the last few months made me realise how fortunate we were to come through with no major after effects. Dengue is one unique disease that actually makes one more vulnerable to it . After one who has had it , contracts it another time, it can be far more dangerous.

It has been a life changing experience.  Life happens ! And whenever it throws a spanner in the works, I only pray and hope that I have the fortitude to endure whatever is thrown at me and my family!!

Advertisements

Dengue Diaries: Day 7

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries under ‘Dengue Diaries’.

Sunday.

It’s just past midnight. We call our son, A’s paediatrician, who advises us to bring him to the Hospital, where he’s a consultant. He will inform his colleague who’s there now and reserve a bed in the paediatric ICU.

About 6 people come to lift him into the stretcher and transfer him into the ambulance. A has been sleeping peacefully all this time. As they  struggle to lift him, he wakes up startled and exclaims,” Why are so many people here?”  Then he himself climbs onto the stretcher ; I kiss him on both his cheeks and bid him goodbye. My mom arrives to keep me company as J and his sis go along to the new hospital.

Soon after they leave, the next round of SDP transfusion is set up. A little later, I feel  itchy and see rashes on my arm. I call the nurse,  she says it’s highly improbable for a SDP to cause a reaction. She gives me an anti-allergy medicine through the IV line and restarts the transfusion after a few mins. Inspite of that, I feel a flush of heat and itchiness all over; soon ,both my arms are completely covered with bright pink rashes and spreading fast. Another anti-allergic medicine is administered which relieves the symptoms slightly.  By the time the transfusion is completed, it’s 1 a.m.

Just then, I hear from J, the paediatrician has found that A’s BP is indeed low, and is monitoring his condition under fast flowing IV fluid.

In the morning,I decide to move into a single ward, and find myself in a spacious ,brightly painted blue room which has a nice view of the beautifully landscaped front yard of the hospital. I’m happy to have my own brush and shampoo! Most importantly, I have my phone to keep in touch with J.

Blood samples are taken to check the platelet counts, both A’s and mine. Mine is up to 90,000 ; A’s is down to 56,000.   We pray and hope that his won’t drop further and that he shouldn’t have to undergo the transfusions as I did.

The next blood test will tell us the course of action to be taken for him. The paediatrician confides that  he has no experience with platelet transfusion in children, but if the counts drop below 40,000, he will decide to go for it.

Dengue Diaries: Day 6

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries under ‘Dengue Diaries’.

The platelet results are in – 41000. Eureka!! I can’t wait to get out of the ICU, but Dr. Sanju says the counts aren’t good enough to warrant a shift to a ward. So I have to probably stay here another day.

The neurospecialist then walks in to check the other 4 Neuro patients. The one on my right, a very old man, probably in his 80s, keeps calling out the names of 2 women. Even the nurses are puzzled by this, but he doesn’t respond to their questions. I later find out that he’s suffering from Parkinson’s and the 2 women are his wife and daughter.

The nurses are discussing a complaint lodged against them. Apparently while performing a procedure on one of the patients, the skin had peeled off! None of them seem to be aware of it and they start discussing ways to counter the complaint. Finally, they decide they will say that they have no clue how it happened!

Shortly, the head of the ICU, Dr. Shiv kumar, the gregarious doctor comes in. He looks at my file and says,’ So, Deepthi, are you older or younger to our student’? referring to my sister. I tell him that I’m older and that my name is Deepa, not Deepthi! ‘Oh’, he says ‘Everything looks ok, so we will move you out to the ward today’. I’m absolutely thrilled! I can’t wait to get out of here…

The cleaning woman comes next to empty out the trash bins. She starts from the first bed, on my right, emptying the contents of the bin in to a large polythene packet. As she’s transferring the contents, the packet slips from her hand and I see a large diaper and all its contents spill out on the floor. She mutters something under her breath and then picks it up with her gloved hands and in to the packet. I wait to see if she will sanitize that area, but she just walks out after clearing out all the trash. Thankfully, the room is mopped half hour later.

My sis comes in to say that a ward has been booked for me to move. She tells me that my older son, A, has also been admitted that morning and he’s on IV fluids. He had woken up feeling exhausted . So J and my sister brought him to the paediatrician at the hospital, who advised him to get admitted. J has booked a 2-ward room so that we can be in the same room.

My sis wants to get back the same day as her daughter wants her back home. She wants to make sure that I will be transferred before she leaves.  Around lunch time, the transfer takes place. My son’s lying on the bed, looking very exhausted and also upset that he’s hospitalised. It’s his first experience too. When I ask him how he‘s doing, he replies in a very feeble voice that he’s tired. J jokes that we’re one happy family together in the room.

It’s a small room with 2 beds for patients and 2 tiny, child-size beds for accompanying family to sleep overnight. There isn’t any TV unlike the other wards, which could have helped cheer up my son. The beds are about 5 feet long and 2 feet wide and they also have wheels. So every time a person sitting or sleeping shifts his position, the bed rolls. J and his sister start arguing about who will spend the night there. I know that it will be inconvenient for both, as they are very tall and well-built. Anyway, I thought it best we cross that bridge when we come to it.

It’s time for my sis to leave. I ‘m sorry to see her go, but happy that she’s come all the way, even if it’s just for a day. As she’s leaving the hospital she bumps into the paediatrician, and enquires if he had looked up my son. He hadn’t come to check him since he’s been admitted. He says he had forgotten, so she accompanies him back to our ward, and leaves finally after that.

The next blood test shows a slight drop in platelet count. One more SDP is required. J calls one of his colleagues, who had earlier agreed to donate platelets if and when required.

After dinner, the paediatric duty doctor comes to check A’s vital signs. The doctor seems flustered and  calls for other interns and several different BP instruments. She then rushes out and comes back to say that his BP is low and he needs to be moved to the ICU for monitoring. But there is no vacancy in any of the ICUs and so he has to be shifted to another hospital.

Dengue Diaries: Day 5 contd

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries under ‘Dengue Diaries’.

A few hours after lunch, my sister walks into the ICU. My spirits soar as soon as I see her smiling face. She tells me that she has spoken to the Head of the Internal Medicine department who assured her that the right measures and precautions are being taken.

My sister is several years younger to me. I remember the time when she was born; I couldn’t wait to carry her and straddle her on my lap and rock her to sleep. Now, the roles are reversed and she’s one looking after me.

Later, the nurse draws blood from my left arm to check the counts .Within a minute; I notice a small swelling there. I point it out to her, but she brushes it off saying it will get ok and goes away to attend to some other work. A few minutes later, it’s blowing up like a balloon. I call out to the head nurse passing by and she immediately tells one of the other nurses to tie a bandage on the area tightly. It’s a hematoma, a collection of blood outside the blood vessel perhaps caused due to the low platelet count preventing the blood from clotting. The mark left by the hematoma,  a large black blob like splattered ink remains on my arm for almost a month.

At long last, Dr. Sanju comes with the results- platelet count 26,000!! My sis is with her, looking jubilant- she says now the upward trend has started and it should only get better. We ‘re all relieved. But the counts are still not in the normal range, so one more transfusion is needed and this time it’s ready!

The 7th transfusion is started and we have to wait till next morning for the result. Later in the night, I overhear that a new patient has to be brought in, but there’s no bed available. After some deliberation, it’s decided that I be moved to the Neuro ICU. I am not happy about having to move, but can’t do anything about it.

At around 11 pm, I’m transferred to the Neuro ICU, a small narrow room with just one window. There are 5 beds in a row, close to each other and I’m shifted into the second bed. The other 4 patients are all old men. It’s even gloomier in here and I’m not excited at the prospect of having to stay here.

 

Dengue Diaries: Day 5

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries here: Preface, day 1, day2, day 3, day3contd, day 4, day 4 contd, ICU

Friday, October 28th, Day 5

Early morning, my blood sample is taken for testing. Around 8, Dr. Sanju walks in. Quite early for rounds, I think. She tells me the results are in. The counts are 8000(Normal range is 150k – 450k). I think I hear wrong and ask her to repeat it. Seeing the shock on my face, she tries to cheer me up saying, “At least, we know for sure now it’s Dengue. The blood report came positive for it. Our treatment is on the right track. So, don’t worry!”

One more round of platelet transfusion is required and my family has been notified to arrange for the donor. She says with such low levels of platelets, it isn’t wise to get out of bed as the slightest incident can cause internal bleeding and complicate things.

I still can’t believe that the counts dropped so low! It seems surreal!! I start to think that it was time for me to join my father. Perhaps he’s getting lonely up there.But then, the faces of my 2 kids float in front of my eyes, they are both down with fever still and they need me.

I suddenly remember reading about the mind control method- where one focuses and meditates on what one wants, imagine it very clearly in one’s mind- and it actually happens. Why not give it a try? I try to picture the bone marrow and will it to start producing the platelets. I keep focusing and meditating on this process for a while and start feeling much better.

My mom comes in with the entire paraphernalia- gown and mask and gloves! Her eyes, which are the only thing I see, are extremely worried and tired. She says that my sis, as soon as she had heard the news,  arranged for a car and driver and is now on her way, leaving her 4 year old daughter behind for the first time! She also tells me that my cousin, S, has come to be with her. S was to travel that day with her husband for a wedding. But, when she heard about my condition, she cancelled her trip and stayed with my mom.

J’s cousin, R who fortunately is back from his holiday, donates the platelets in the morning. At about 11am, the platelet transfusion is started again.

A CCTV is going to be arranged for the patients in the MICU to talk to their family members waiting outside.  The CCTV makes its way around the room very slowly. Of course, most patients are either unconscious or fast asleep and it’s the nurses who give their families an update on their condition. Finally, it’s my turn. I can see J and his sister on the camera.

Today, J’s sister has taken both children to their paediatrician and he’s done a complete blood test. J had been in touch with the paediatrician over the last few days, but he hadn’t seen them physically as he was on leave.  The results showed that both of them had tested positive for Dengue. Younger one’s platelet count is in the normal range while older one’s has just dropped below normal to 135k. The doctor has advised rest and plenty of fluids.

They also inform me that anticipating another donor would be required, my cousin, S has arranged for one, her husband’s friend, and he has come from the other end of town, commuting an hour and half. We’re starting to get the hang of this whole platelet donation thing now!!

Dengue Diaries: In the ICU

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries here: Preface, day 1, day2, day 3, day3contd, day 4, day 4 contd

Perceptions of a reluctant Homemaker

The Daily Post has thrown a challenge to use active and passive voice in an engaging way. A year ago, I was hospitalised for dengue and here’s an account of one day in the ICU.

I was wheeled into the MICU, a huge spacious room with large glass windows and transferred onto the bed right next to the entrance, for which I was glad. Not that I wanted to escape or anything, but just in case! The nurse’s station was right in front of me and through the window across the room , I could see a Gulmohar (mayflower) tree , in full bloom, with flaming orange flowers, the only bright spot in the otherwise gloomy surrounding .  It was quite unnerving to see the other patients (about 10 in all), with a host of tubes, bandages and ventilators!

Just as I was settling in, an X- ray machine was wheeled in…

View original post 437 more words

Dengue Diaries: Day 4 contd

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries here: Preface, day 1, day2, day 3, day3contd, day 4

SHIFT

Once again, we find ourselves in the emergency ward, but this time at a larger, busier and better equipped hospital. The staff too look more energetic, efficient and effusive. The other good thing about this hospital is that my sister had studied at the medical school attached and knew most of the doctors here. She calls to tell us that through her contacts, she has found a young PG intern, Dr. Sanju working under Dr. Kumar.

Shortly, Dr. Sanju herself comes to see me and assures me there’s nothing to worry. Then she asks me to look out for any signs of bleeding and to inform the medical staff if such a thing occurs. So much for not worrying!

In the meantime, our cousins land up at the blood bank to donate blood. J asks them to wait as he’s busy with the admission formality and they need the reference letter for the platelet collection. The admission process is taking longer than usual, and by the time J gets to the blood bank, the cousins have already donated blood.

Seeing that they had been waiting for a while, the staff at the blood bank told them that they could donate the blood, and they would make sure that the concerned patient receives it. But when J shows them the SDP (Single donor platelet) request letter, he’s told that the blood collected cannot be used as the process for SDP collection is different.

So after having the cousins come all the way on a festival day (It was still Diwali), we don’t have the SDPs and no other person we know was immediately available that day.

Realising the gravity of the situation, J’s cousin’s husband hangs around trying to figure out what to do. Just then, one of the hospital’s regular donors walks in. My mom and cousin catch hold of him and request him to donate platelets, but he refuses. After much cajoling and pleading, he relents and I get my first dose of SDP.

Platelet donation happens in a process called apheresis, which takes 3 hours as opposed to a routine blood donation which takes about 20 mins. The long process is therefore a deterrent to most people who are unaware of it.

Dengue Diaries: Day 4

This is a chronicle of events that happened a year ago when I suffered from dengue. You can find the previous entries here: Preface, day 1, day2, day 3, day3contd

Thursday October 25th, 2011 Day 4

At 6am, the nurses are back. After checking BP, temp and pulse, they start the 3rd platelet transfusion. They are also administering an antibiotic- to prevent infection and a steroid- to stimulate platelet production.

J’s sister is coming from Mumbai today to attend their cousin’s wedding set to happen a few days later. As soon as she lands, she comes to see me. J jokes that every time she comes, someone from the family is in the hospital. (The last time she came, just about a year ago, my MIL underwent surgery)

By noon, the remaining 2 pints are also transfused. A blood sample is taken to check the platelet count. In the meantime, I have to go for an abdominal scan (as the dengue virus can cause a leakage of plasma in the abdominal spaces) . Though Dr. S maintains that it is not dengue, she is following the treatment and precautions for the illness.

The scan results are normal, but the platelet counts aren’t. In spite of transfusing 5 pints of platelets, the counts have diminished further to 22,000. Dr S tells us that we need to get SDPs- single donor platelets.

SDPs are obtained from a process called apheresis by which the platelets are separated from other blood components and are more potent than RDPs. SDPs are collected against specific needs and therefore donors have to be arranged. As J cannot donate blood due to a pre-existing condition, we call 2 of our relatives- my cousin and J’s cousin’s husband who both agree.

While I wait, Dr S suggests I go for short walk. As I walk in the gloomy corridors, a middle-aged lady, also a patient comes out of her room to speak to me. She asks me if I have Dengue and enquires about my platelet count. When I say 22,000, she is surprised that I’m allowed to walk around.

She tells me she had severe body pain and exhaustion and when her blood test showed platelet count of 75,000, her doctor asked her to get admitted and she was put on IV fluids. Now her count has come up to 150,000 and hopes to be discharged soon. I want to ask her who her doctor is, just then her phone rings and she goes in to answer it.

Niggling doubts about the hospital and doctor enter my mind. Back in the room, I discuss with my family about shifting to the other hospital which has the blood bank and also better facilities. We inform Dr. S, to our surprise; she agrees immediately and arranges for the transfer. The medical director comes to visit us and recommends another doctor, Dr Kumar, who is a consultant at both hospitals. He would have the health history updated by Dr. S and continue the same treatment.

Later, I realised that I would have to be shifted anyway as the low counts warrant restricted movement and continuous monitoring, only possible in the milieu of an ICU and the current hospital didn’t have one.

Dengue Diaries: Hospitalisation

Its been a while since I updated the Dengue Diairies. As I have been getting queries about the rest of the story, have decided to continue with it. Those, who have missed the previous entries, can find it here:  Preface, day1 , day2 and day3

Wednesday, October 24th. Day 3 contd..

I’m at the hospital waiting for the formalities of admission. I’m a bit nervous as I’m unfamiliar with this hospital! But Dr S assures us that the hospital is well-equipped and the nursing staff well-trained. After the formalities, I ‘m taken to the emergency ward where there is a flurry of activity. Three nurses materialize suddenly. One checks the triumvirate of BP, temp and pulse.  Another jabs my left arm to insert the IV line while the third jabs my right to draw blood for the platelet count.

I start to feel like royalty!  Impressed with their alacrity, my fears about the hospital are allayed.

At the private ward, a half hour later, the blood results are in. The count has dipped to 37,000 (Normal range is 150 K to 450 K). Dr S says I need to get platelets transfused as the low counts are a risk for internal bleeding. (Platelets play an important role in the clotting of blood and very low quantities of platelets can lead to spontaneous bleeding).

We have to go the blood bank at a nearby hospital to acquire the platelets. J calls my sis for advice. In her opinion, platelet transfusion is done only if the counts are below 25,000.But Dr S is adamant about going ahead with it.

So, with a reference letter, J goes to the blood bank. He is told that only RDPs or Random Donor Platelets are available. At that time, we didn’t know much about platelet collection or RDPs. I found out that these are platelets obtained from whole blood in routine blood donations and pooled from several donors as the quantity of platelets obtained from whole blood is very little. After consulting with Dr S, he picks up 5 pints of RDPs.

Back in the ward, the nurse sets up the first transfusion and instructs me to inform her if there’s any itching. Since the RDP is collected from whole blood, there could be some blood components which can cause an allergic reaction. The 2nd round of transfusion is started after a gap of half hour. Shortly, I feel some itching on my right arm and soon there are rashes all over my body. I ring for the nurse who stops the transfusion, injects an anti-allergy medicine and then restarts the transfusion.

It’s 11 pm when the transfusion is complete. The nurses decide to continue the transfusions in the morning. J goes back home while my mom keeps me company in the ward. I am suddenly aware of the loud firecrackers being burst outside and can smell the acrid smoke. I think about my younger son who was so keen on firecrackers this year. We didn’t even get a chance to buy any, but no one’s in the mood to celebrate Diwali anymore!

 

DP Challenge: A day in the ICU

The Daily Post has thrown a challenge to use active and passive voice in an engaging way. A year ago, I was hospitalised for dengue and here’s an account of one day in the ICU.

I was wheeled into the MICU, a huge spacious room with large glass windows and transferred onto the bed right next to the entrance, for which I was glad. Not that I wanted to escape or anything, but just in case! The nurse’s station was right in front of me and through the window across the room , I could see a Gulmohar (mayflower) tree , in full bloom, with flaming orange flowers, the only bright spot in the otherwise gloomy surrounding .  It was quite unnerving to see the other patients (about 10 in all), with a host of tubes, bandages and ventilators!

Just as I was settling in, an X- ray machine was wheeled in and I was informed that a  lung X-ray had to be taken. The handler loudly announced “Radiation” and all the nurses ran over to the other end of the MICU!

No other patient was awake. The only sounds were of the monitors beeping away. Time was moving like a snail with crutches! I had to undergo platelet transfusion due to the extremely low platelet counts and soon, the transfusion was set up. It was late evening by the time it was done and I got to meet my husband briefly. He came covered from head to toe, in hospital garb. I could only see his eyes, looking strained, but trying to smile and make light of the situation.

The next morning, I was woken up at 5.30 am by the nurse to have my temperature checked and my blood drawn for testing. Then , a lady attender came to ask me if I would have a wipe-down bath in bed or if I would walk to the bath. I opted for the latter. I was escorted to the bathroom at the far end of the MICU and handed a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of ‘Dettol’ soap with instructions to wash my hair. I stared at the bar of soap balefully, wondering if my lovely hair would protest, but  since it was uncertain when I would lay my eyes on shampoo next,  I went ahead with it!

A change in the nurse’s shift brought a boisterous bunch of nurses, unlike the soft-spoken ones from the previous day. One of the nurses sitting at the station was learning Sanskrit alphabets from another nurse, while a third was describing her facials and how she likes to lick the face pack applied at the end!

Soon after, the head of the ICU, Dr. Shiv Kumar, a middle-aged, portly , gregarious man, walked in with his entourage of interns and PGs.  After the rounds, they got together at the nurse’s station and started discussing the first International F1 race taking place in India later today. One of the interns had apparently bought a ticket to the F1 for Rs. 30,000/- and Dr. Shiv Kumar found it incredulous that someone could spend so much money to watch a sport. He questioned a young lady intern if she would spend that kind of money and when she answered in the affirmative, he seemed even more amazed. Then he asked 2 other interns, and he was only satisfied when they both replied that they were not crazy about F1 to spend a horde of money on it!

An entertaining morning to say the least!