Tom & Hayley are visited by the Dengue Fever Fairy

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our plans for Laos have been pretty loose; we wanted to use our 2 weeks in Laos as a chance to relax and soak up the atmosphere so we didn't really have much planned for our time here. We will be spending most of our time between the northern and southern cities of Luang Prabang and Vientiane before we head back to Thailand and continue the rest of our trip through Asia. After our long journey to Luang Prabang we spent the first 2 days wandering around town and getting our bearings. Laos is an old French colonial country and even though the French left in the mid-20th Century there are still lots of French influences to see everywhere; one of the main influences is that they sell the most amazing French baguettes and pastries. Bakery products aren’t very abundant in Asia so we were sooo happy when we arrived and saw stall after stall of baguettes, donuts and Danish pastries. On our first two days we tucked into the huge baguettes which, I’m embarrassed to admit, were some of the best food we have tasted in ages. To be honest Luang Prabang is a very strange place; Laos is registered as one of the world’s 20th poorest countries, however a couple of a-list celebrities came to the northern city of Luang Prabang over the last few years, including Brad and Angelina, and since then the city has got more popular and more expensive. It is now a bizarre mix of truly shocking poverty and high-class spas and restaurants. We have heard wonderful things about Luang Prabang and I can see why it is so popular with travelers, but we found it a weird place; it kind of felt like someone had built a shiny plastic tourist town in the middle of a poverty-stricken jungle. It’s just a very weird place!

On our third evening here we went along to a local book store and café which shows free movies in the evening and got some nice ginger teas and watched The King’s Speech with Colin Firth (which is bloody brilliant and we highly recommend watching it). On the way there Tom mentioned that he had some funny tummy pains, nothing too painful and he managed to watch the film with no problems. Afterwards as we were walking back to our guesthouse I also started to get tummy pains and we figured that we must have eaten something a bit dodgy. We went back to our room and planned out our sightseeing for the next few days, after relaxing for the first two days we figured it was time we actually started to visit some of the sights. Little did we know what was in store for us over the coming days and weeks.

It is really difficult to explain what happened next. We woke up the next morning and we had both become so so ill. We awoke to find that we had blinding headaches, especially behind our eyes, raging temperatures, sore backs and necks, joint pain, stomach pains, vomiting, sensitivity to light, nausea, dizziness. I have never had a fever as high as this before, we were sweating through our clothes and the bed sheets and mattress were soaked. When we had checked in to our guesthouse they had no double rooms left and we had been forced to stay in a twin room instead, which actually turned out for the best because it meant we had separate beds which helped when we were so hot and sweaty.  The worst symptoms were the headaches, dizziness, fever and joint pain. The pain in our joints were horrifically bad, especially in my kneecaps; just walking to the bathroom reduced me to tears, it felt like someone had smashed my kneecaps in with a baseball bat. We were exhausted and we spent the entire day falling in and out of sleep and trying to drink as much water as we could. As the first day wore on and the temperature outside increased our fevers were becoming unbearable and pretty soon all of our symptoms were eclipsed by an increasing feeling of delirium. Neither of us could think straight and after a while we became so delirious we didn’t know exactly where we were or what the hell was happening to us. In all honesty it was terrifying. These feelings of delirium lasted for the first two days of our illness; I can hardly even remember these two days properly, it all feels like a blur and all I can clearly recall is looking over at Tom and seeing him writhing around on the bed in pain and dripping in sweat, all the time feeling like the room was spinning into space. Luckily there was a water cooler downstairs in the guesthouse courtyard and every hour or two we would hobble downstairs together, holding each other up in case we keeled over, and fill up our water jug and bottles; we knew that we needed to keep drinking as much water as possible.  

Now I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t you just go to the doctor? Well if only it was that easy. As I said earlier Laos is one of the world’s poorest countries and unfortunately for us Laos is just not set up with health care of an international standard. Our guidebook advises that while healthcare in Laos is adequate for sprained ankles it is not good enough for anything more serious than this. There is local healthcare, however this does not guarantee that the 'doctor’ you will see has actually had any medical training, they are more likely to be a local villager who has experience of helping sick people. Third world countries also have issues relating to sterilized needles and we were terrified at the thought of having blood tests or injections with dirty needles. It is advised that if you need medical treatment you fly back to Bangkok. Despite being so ill a small part of our brains were still functioning well enough to know that we couldn’t risk visiting a local Laos doctor and that if things got really bad we needed to get our arses back to Thailand. At first we thought that we had food poisoning but as the two first days passed by something in the back of my head was telling me that this didn’t make sense. Before we had arrived in Asia I had read about the many tropical diseases which are prevalent here and something in my memory was telling me to take another look at the health section of our guidebook. As soon as I did this it was made sense; all of our symptoms tallied up with Dengue Fever.  Reading further we learnt that there is no treatment for Dengue other than rest, paracetamol and plenty of water; so we got back in bed and fell asleep.

On the third day we woke up and, thank god, the delirium had passed. We still felt like death and were in agonizing pain but at least our heads felt clear today and we could think straight for the first time in 48 hours. Prior to this Tom and I hadn’t even been able to hold a proper conversation with each other so now was a good chance to talk about what we had been through. We were still so ill though, we were sleeping approximately 20 hours a day and doing nothing other than lying in bed, walking to the bathroom and filling up the water jug. Neither of us could walk more than a few feet without feeling massively dizzy so we were having to walk everywhere together to hold each other up; we would take it in turns going to the loo, one would wait outside the bathroom and then we would lean on each other and hobble back to our beds. Feeling so weak and fragile was a frightening experience. This level of our illness lasted for the next 5 days, we were still confined to our beds and were in agony with our joints, backs, necks and heads, our temperatures were soaring and we were utterly exhausted. At one point Tom was wrapped up in his blankets during the searing mid-day heat and when I went over to him I could feel a wave of heat coming off his body from about 7 inches above the blankets. However our temperatures were slowly starting to lower and we managed to book ourselves into our guesthouse for a few more days; the owner of the guesthouse comes from Switzerland and having lived in Asia for many years he has had every tropical illness possible and once we chatted to him about our symptoms he agreed that he thought we’d had Dengue. He might not be a doctor but it was comforting to speak to someone who had suffered from Dengue before and could reassure us. Being so ill had completely thrown all of our plans out of the window, we had no idea what day it was or what we were going to do next, so we just booked ourselves into our guesthouse for the foreseeable future so we could recover. Gradually we were starting to get better and we were so grateful that we were over the worst of our illness.         

However, we really do have the worst luck lately. The following day I woke up and had a new type of agonizing stomach pains. I was doubled over in pain and spent most of the day in tears. It was all too much for me, having been so ill for so long I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was terrified that something awful was happening to me and worried that the Dengue had come back or taken a turn for the worst. At 9pm I broke down in tears and Tom and I agreed that we couldn’t let this carry on any further. I dosed myself up on painkillers and got back in bed and by 10pm Tom had bought us some last minute flights back to Bangkok for the following day and booked us into some nice accommodation. So despite seemingly starting to get better we now had flights booked and were due to leave Laos in less than 12 hours. After a 3 day journey to get here we couldn’t believe that we were having to leave under such a black cloud and without having even explored Luang Prabang properly. It was a very strong reminder that sometimes life takes unexpected turns and you have to do your best to deal with them.

P.s. all these photos were taken in the first 2 days before we became ill xxx
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: