Have you been sunbathing? No, I have dengue fever!

I suppose after a summer of several accidents whilst working in Greece it was inevitable that I would end up in hospital at some point! However I could not have predicted how, why and when that would happen.

Accident number 1 – fell over backwards onto my bike and put out my right hand out to break my fall and ended up with a sprained wrist.

Accident number 2 – Sprained ankle this time. After stepping down off a coach my left ankle rolled over and I could hardly walk. I hobbled around on crutches for 3 days and relied on lifts to and from work, this was the most serious I had hurt myself ever.

Accident number 3 – I collided with a moped whilst riding my bike and hurt my left leg.

Accident number 4 – Whilst waiting in a queue of traffic on my bike for the lights to change, I was hit by a car, as I fell over, I just thought ‘not again!’ Luckily I wasn’t hurt at all but the bike was damaged. I just couldn’t believe my bad luck at being in yet another accident and 3 out of 4 of them involving my bike. After that I decided to walk to work!

I made it out of Greece in one piece in September and less than 2 months later I found myself admitted to hospital in the Philippines!

Having completed the 2 week studying part of the Zoox marine conservation course, we had moved to the small island of Malapascua to start the practical work experience as assessors for Green Fins as explained in my last blog (you don’t know what you don’t know 2 Nov). After 10 days on the island I began to feel unwell – big headache and my face, neck and chest felt very hot. I had to cancel my dive the next day and I spent the next 3 days in bed, taking paracetamol to try and reduce the fever. My manager Alan thought I had dengue fever and recommended I go to hospital on day 4 of the fever. He has had dengue and so recognised the symptoms and knew what to do.

With a temperature of 38.6 degrees I set off with Alan to go to the hospital. Malapascua does not have a hospital and so we had to go to one on the mainland in the city of Cebu. We took a small rowing boat out to the big boat that would take us across to the mainland port, however because of low tide we had to then step down off the big boat to another small rowing boat to take us to shore. There was quite a lot of swell so timing had to be right to step down into it, I was feeling quite shaky but with help was able to step down to the small boat, as we made our way to shore, we were hit sideways by more waves that almost capsized us! Thankfully the car journey of 3.5 hours was uneventful, just the normal Philippine way of driving – honking at everyone, overtaking every vehicle and sudden braking to avoid oncoming traffic whilst overtaking – often on bends or going up hill!

I was admitted to the hospital after blood tests confirmed I had dengue fever. I was a bit confused when they asked me if I had been sunbathing as my face was so red – err no people, I’ve been in bed for 3 days!

The staff who looked after me were lovely and competent even though they did all look about 12 years old but without fail came to check my vital signs (blood pressure, temperature and screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-17-12-12pulse) every 4 hours and I mean EVERY 4 hours. For the whole week I was in hospital I did not get a single night of good sleep. Every night I had at least three people coming in to see me between midnight and six am – to take blood, check the iv bag, take my temperature (in my armpit) and even though it was the middle of the night, they entered with a very cheery and loud ‘good morning m’am’. I’m sorry but it is not good morning when it is clearly the middle of the night and I am asleep, needless to say the response they got from me was far less enthusiastic!

Twice a day a small army of people (medical students, nurses) came to see me on their rounds, this involved about 9 of them coming in the room, looking at me then disappearing again just as quickly, usually one of them took a quick look at the IV bag but that was it – in and out in 10 seconds.

Shortly after their morning visit my doctor came to check on me. Doctor Bimbo Tequillo. I swear I am not making up that name!

He assured me I wasn’t going to die (thanks doc!), explained the results of the blood tests and said I could stay as long as I wanted. After several days of fever, the platelets and white blood cells drop. The normal platelet count is between 140,000 to 440,000, when I was admitted my count was 58,000, over the next 2 days it continued to drop to 35,000. This did rather concern me but Dr Bimbo was not worried (he was a very cheerful chap!) so I trusted him. Dengue fever is treated just with an IV drip to keep you hydrated until the fever goes and the platelet count increases.

Dr Tequillo and the staff were wonderful, the food was not!


I am British, I don’t eat rice and vegetables for breakfast!

Here is an example of one of my meals – burnt roast potatoes with a slice of orange!


It was always amusing to see just a pile of carbs (usually mashed potato) on the plate. The salad or vegetables were always in a separate dish. One night I even got a four course dinner – soup, salad, spaghetti and a slice of pineapple for dessert!

After one week of lying in bed with the IV drip in my hand I was finally well enough to be discharged. Hurray! So here I am back on the island of Malapascua, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and sunshine and hoping the rest of the year will be accident & illness free!



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One Response to Have you been sunbathing? No, I have dengue fever!

  1. Isabela says:

    Wow… Hope you are feeling better now Jenny. I wish I could send you some cheese from Villefranche, pistachio yogurt from Greece and burek from Turkey 🙂


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