Couchfish Day 133: Travel, interrupted

Couchfish Day 133: Travel, interrupted


The first time I headed overseas, all the talk at the travel doctor was about malaria. There were daily, weekly and monthly pills to consider, and of course a chunk of dosh. In all my travels I could count on one hand the number of travellers I’ve met who have caught malaria. Dengue fever on the other hand ...

Random photo from Sidemen, Bali. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

Over the years I’ve had dengue fever twice. Once I was hospitalised (the first time), the second time, I just rode it out at home. Overall, I would not recommend catching dengue fever.

So imagine my elation when I woke the morning before last at 1 am, feeling, well less than terrific. By 3 am I started to suspect dengue, by about 6 am I was thinking, oh no not again. A few hours later, I was pretty much certain. This morning, a little over 24 hours after first waking up feeling like I’d been run–over by a garbage truck, I’m certain.

Sadly, dengue is a bit like riding a bike—once you know how it works you never forget it. Third time around the characteristics are all too familiar. So what are the characteristics?

Dengue is not known as “break bone fever” without reason. Imagine someone affixing two or three vices to your tibias. They’d need to somehow manage this direct to the bone, as the pain is not muscular. It is totally in the bones. Then they wind them as tight as they’ll go. Then tighter ... and tighter.

Later, they add three more, to the femur. These they spin even tighter. How tight? Tight enough to bring on nausea now and then. This time around, these are the worst. It is magically indescribable. Pain is the wrong word, yet it is far more than an ache. Far more.

Moving up the body, yesterday afternoon I scored two vices on each humerus. These have not been spun as tight, but it is painful to lift my arms—typing is a joy ha ha.

The other classic dengue symptom is a searing pain behind the eyeballs. This pain comes and goes, but when it is bad, I’d say it is like having nails driven into the back of your eyeballs. Having never had nails driven into my eye sockets, I’m guessing here. Suffice to say it hurts, and closing your eyes doesn’t help.

It isn’t called dengue fever for nothing. The first time I had this you could have fried an egg on my forehead, but so far this time around, the fever and chills have not been so bad. Then there is the exhaustion—I tried to walk to the minimart last night, lets just say that was an error in judgement. Extreme skin sensitivity rounds out this little bevy of joy delivered by some random aedes aegypti mosquito.

Treatment? Rest, staying hydrated, and lots of paracetamol. Lots. I love paracetamol. Anything but the vile papaya leaf thing.

So, this is a long–winded way of saying Couchfish is off the couch and in bed till mid–next week. I’ll pick up the missing entries once I’m back on deck.

Stay safe, and if you see a mosquito, please hit it with a hammer.

And hey, at least it isn’t Covid19!


The Couchfish podcast. Following a day by day itinerary through Southeast Asia—for all those people stranded on their couch.