In 2017, Pavan Srinath, a researcher in public policy from India, contracted dengue fever twice. After a mild first episode, the second infection far away from home proved much worse, and Pavan speaks here about his experience, as well as the burden dengue fever placed on his primary caregiver which was his fiancé Winona.
My name is Pavan Srinath. I am a resident of Bangalore, India, and I am a public policy researcher.
Last year, I suffered from dengue twice, once in October 2017, and once again in November end, 2017. The first time, I recovered from the disease by just rest, fever control and the intake of fluids and nutrition at home.
My second attack of Dengue, which was severe, happened when I was on vacation with my fiancé (now wife) Winona in the Himalayas in the state of Sikkim, India. This was just two months before we were to get married.
This episode was more severe and I was hospitalised twice before getting better. I had to spend a few days in a local hospital which barely had any doctors and little experience dealing with dengue, and no airport. It took me the better part of a day to travel back to Bangalore, which significantly worsened my symptoms. Back in Bangalore, I spent 72 hours in a High Dependency Unit at a private hospital -- a stepped-down version of an Intensive Care Unit, before recovering. In that time, I developed retinal edema and had my platelet count drop to 15,000 per cubic millimeter of blood. I recovered because I was well-off, had insurance and access to good private healthcare in Bangalore.
Along with my story of being a dengue patient, the story of those who have to attend on dengue patients is one that needs to be highlighted as well. Through it all, my wife Winona had to care for me in a new city, procure food and nutrition for the both of us, help me get back to Bangalore, and manage every single thing. The greater costs of Dengue were borne by her: as the patient, I was mostly sleeping and resting. This strain was both physical and cognitive, as she had to be on high alert through out the episode.
Dengue fever places a severe burden not only on the patients but also on the entire communities and networks around them, whether because they are caring for severely sick people or because they are themselves at a high risk of the disease. In dengue endemic regions, the story of dengue patients is a collective story of the whole communities.