How do you prepare when setting out on a trip for one month? You think about what you are going to do, what you will need in order to do these things and so on. When travelling to an exotic country, you also consider the nuisances that could happen to you on such a trip, and you take precautions against them. One of them is getting vaccinated, the other is buying half of a pharmacy, just in case.
I am no hypochondriac but before leaving, I enumerated all the possible tropical illnesses and came to the conclusion that most of all, I would not like to get Dengue fever. Some of our friends and friends' children had it while we were living in India and it is a very nasty illness, with fever, muscular pain, headache, gum inflammation, rashes and all the rest that you can imagine. It is a neglected mosquito-born viral infection and there is not much to be done about it except for staying out of the way of mosquitoes. Now this is easier said than done, especially during this period of the year, the peak of Dengue is around the change of monsoon and dry season that is exactly now.
The first day I used anti-mosquito spray and just before leaving Brussels, I bought some citronella oil and a diffuser that I set up in my bedroom. (This seems to work as the only night I heard mosquitoes buzzing in my ear was the one when I forgot to turn it on.)
However, the restaurant where we go to eat most of the time, has a very decorative wall of waterfall with lights of changing colours, attractive to people - and mosquitoes alike, so we get bitten each night.
Not long after our arrival, I got a little sick. Just a running nose, sore eyes and throat. Nothing to worry about, just something uncomfortable but I could continue my yoga practice throughout. The guys I'm sharing the flat with all had something going on, but they were more affected than me. One had a flu and stayed in bed for 3-4 days, the other had fever that lasted about 24 hours and the third one was bed-ridden because of fever, too. When he was staying at home for the third day in a row, I suggested that he go and see a doctor.
He went to hospital and had to stay there immediately, as blood tests showed that he had Dengue. The poor guy has fever each evening and night, looks really bad and cannot eat much because of gum and upper palate pain.
We went to see him this morning and evening at the hospital, and although he got a single deluxe room (should I say suite?) with television, AC and an extra bed for a family member, no doesn't feel the better for it. He related to us how he could hardly sleep as every five minutes somebody entered his room, asking him if he needed anything. When the cannula was inserted for the infusion, it took two nurses and eight punctures to finally do it.
Staying ill in an Indian hospital is an experience I don't wish to anyone (although I had my turn when giving birth to my second daughter), even if the ambulance in front of the hospital building has a nice picture of Sri Krishna and a famous sage painted on it.