Fever. Exhaustion. Severe muscle and joint pain. Rash. I had classic dengue fever symptoms. The other night as I covered myself with a bed sheet to try and catch some shuteye, I instantly felt a severe itching crawling all over my body. I was hot. I had been exhausted for over a week, not even able to carry out my daily routine of walking for one hour each morning. I took an antihistamine and dozed off, only to awaken multiple times that evening. The next day, my skin, even more inflamed, my eyes red, my dengue fever scare in the Philippines hit the crisis mode. My asawa and I rushed off to the Guimaras Provincial Hospital’s Emergency room. Our local driver NoNo, who was still at home as we made our way to the local trike stand, quickly pulled a shirt on and delivered us to the health care facility in minutes.
I made my way to the emergency room desk and instantly spied a young doctor who had treated me for my previous kidney stone attacks. As I spoke to the nurse on duty, the physician nodded at me, came over to where I was seated, and quickly put a tourniquet on my right arm.
“This will be painful,” he advised me.
“Can’t be any worse than my kidney stone pain, Doc,” I replied.
The tourniquet was tightened. I did feel some discomfort and after five minutes the affable doctor pointed to the red splotches on my arm.
“Good news,” he said, “it’s not dengue fever. Dengue fever spots are in a circle about the size of a five peso coin. You do have an allergy and we will take a blood test now to confirm it is not dengue.”
At the Guimaras Provincial Hospital, there is no emergency room or charge for consulting the physicians on duty. However, all tests are paid for ahead of time, before they are done. The Dengue Blood Test cost a hefty 1,000 pesos, about 22.25 US dollars, but well worth the piece of mind.
A nurse came up to the table where I was seated to begin drawing my blood.
“They tried to take my blood five times at Great Saviour’s Hospital,” I informed the technician, “and they couldn’t get any blood from me. Even nurses in America have trouble drawing blood from me.”
“Stick him 50 times!” my doctor jokingly said.
But no problems, this nurse from the Guimaras Provincial Hospital was a pro. She had drawn my blood after one attempt and rather painlessly at that.
I was then instructed to lie down and was placed next to a lola in the next bed, who was coughing and gasping for breath. The doctor advised me that he was going to have me injected with a medication for my allergy and that most patients become groggy instantly afterwards.
After my wife paid for the shot, I was given the injection. Didn’t feel sleepy at all. Lola kept coughing My poor asawa’s face screwed up after each raspy, violent cough and I decided I would put on my shoes and get out of that area. We waited outside for the results of the blood test.
Thirty minutes later the doctor called us back inside. He confirmed I did not have dengue fever but my blood showed elevated levels for allergies and prescribed a week’s dosage of Ebastine Betamethasone, which he proclaimed was a powerful medication. Generics Pharmacy describes the drug as a treatment for allergies such as chronic hives. Each tablet costs 24 pesos, 53¢ in US currency.
The doctor instructed me to not eat any nuts, chicken, eggs or shellfish. I personally eat these foods all the time without any sign of the outbreak I now have and chowed down on french toast (made with eggs, of course) and Peter Pan Peanut butter yesterday morning, three days after the allergy. My eyes are still red and my chest, neck and arms still have some visible red splotches, but not as bad as a few days ago.
I still have nominal itching, very controllable, and personally think the liquid scented detergent and fabric softener being used in our new washer is causing the allergic reactions. I cannot stand certain perfumes and dyes but my asawa informs me she cannot find any unscented laundry detergents. I thought unscented Tide detergent was available at the stores in nearby Iloilo but I will have to wait until we make a return shopping trip there to find out.
My dengue fever scare in the Philippines was over. Though I have been critical of the Guimaras Provincial Hospital in the past, I cannot praise the doctor and and the emergency staff enough. They quickly attended to my problem and were extremely helpful and caring. I was extremely happy with the healthcare services they provided for me and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. Beats sitting in a doctor’s office in Iloilo City for four hours.