Would you know if you had dengue fever?

posted in: Health, Preparations, Travel | 0

The more intense preparation period for my trip has started and everything seems to be more “real” now. Lots of things need to be organized. To make things more complicated, prior to my departure to PNG in October I will fly to Germany to visit my family in September. They sponsored me a flight because they have not seen me in a few years. So they thought they should get me home for a visit before I am so old and gray they wont recognize me anymore. I am very much looking forward to it but it’s not a small weekend trip I can just  squeeze in.  I will be crisscrossing the globe like crazy in the next few months.

I was informed by Kesaya from VSA that the accommodation complex of the National Fisheries College is currently full and at the moment they have no place for me to stay. Now the VSA Programme Manager in Papua New Guinea has to fly to Kavieng over the weekend to find an alternative place for me. What a mission! I hope they will find something and I won’t have to roll out my sleeping bag in somebody’s pig stall. It seems they only have an issue with space for a short time. Eventually I will be able to move into one of their regular houses.

Yesterday I had my second round of vaccinations from the travel doctor. I don’t really know what they put into me but it has funny effects on my body. Sometimes I’m dizzy, then my ears get really hot and red, then my ears get really cold and my chest gets hot and it changes every 5 minutes into a new combination. At least this way it doesn’t get boring. I have to go three times in total to cover everything. The first time I went  I had to do a full examination by the doctor. When the results came in the doctor called me and asked if I knew I have had dengue fever in my life. I said no, because I didn’t. Really? What? When I talk to people about tropical diseases they usually make a serious face, squint their eyes and say in a matter-of-fact voice: “What you don’t wanna get is dengue fever!” I was/am really worried about it and now it turns out I had it already? I could not remember it at first but then my one week trip to Rarotonga three years ago came back to mind. I googled if Rarotonga actually had dengue fever. And it turns out they have a virus called “Zika”, a dengue fever related virus, fortunately a mild form of dengue fever. It is associated with a skin rash and when I saw photos of the skin rash the memories fully came back. At the time I thought it was a weird allergy and the flu I had at the same time was, well, just a flu. Ok, I usually don’t see flashing lights while having the flu and I am not THAT delirious but it was the time of the swine flu craze and I thought I had swine flu. Well, apparently it was dengue fever. Maybe I should have seen a doctor. Unfortunately my approach to medicine and doctors is as follows, I make use of both options, but only if the only alternative to that would mean certain death. It looks like this line is a fine one and might be a bit blurry at times and I certainly have to be a bit more careful in PNG.

I assume I caught it while doing the Cross Island Trek in Rarotonga with Pa. I got stung by a lot of mosquitoes that day, despite using insect repellent (Bushman!). Who is Pa? Pa is a local guide there and organizes this trips. He is also a healer and the photo above shows him listening to a river rock, because rocks are his friends. Pa is a real character and I can recommend his tours if you go to Rarotonga.










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