At the beginning of October, Kosrae had a Dengue Fever outbreak. In two short weeks, there were something like 29 reported cases. Fliers about prevention were passed around, and Peace Corps sent out emails as outbreaks hit other islands in the FSM as well. School was even canceled one Monday so that students would stay home and clean up potential mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. Main symptoms of Dengue Fever include fever (duh), intense headaches, and a rash that covers the arms and legs.
I awoke Sunday with a fever that hovered around 102.6 for the following three days. I contacted my PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and since I didn’t have a rash or headache, we decided I should take acetaminophen for the fever, drink plenty of fluids, and rest until it broke. On Tuesday, my eyes started getting a little sensitive to light, but that was about the only other symptom I had.
Teacher absences are a significant problem at my school. Out of about 30 teachers, we had a total of 41 teacher absences for the month of October. Thursday my fever was gone, and though I wasn’t back to 100%, I felt guilty about missing yet another day of school. I lasted one period before apologizing to my co-teacher and vice principal, and thanking the heavens that someone in the office offered me a ride home.
Friday I was really feeling better, so I was set on going to school and lasting the whole day. I went through my standard morning routine and got ready to leave. No more than 15 seconds after going outside and putting on my sories (flip flops), I noticed my arms and hands covered in red splotches-there it was, the telltale rash. It didn’t itch or hurt at first, but I got kind of freaked out and started shaking. I called the PCMO, who I’d been in touch with all week, and he decided that I ought to get a ride to the hospital and be tested for Dengue.
I’m usually a pretty good sport about doctor appointments/hospitals/needles, but the rash already had me anxious, and getting blood drawn in a developing country's hospital wasn’t something I was especially excited about. At the hospital I reveled in the air-conditioned office where I filled out paperwork (Parents names. Okay, does it make sense to put my actual parents’ names here, or should I be putting down my host parents?) before I was sent to a line of chairs to wait for an available doctor. Eventually I was called, my vitals were taken, and I was directed to the lab to get tested for Dengue Fever.
Of course the actual blood-being-drawn-part went smoothly and negated my worries. One of the lab techs left the room with my blood as a younger one came in. The younger lab tech told me it would take about half an hour to process, and started asking me questions…
You World Teach?
Nope, Peace Corps.
Oh. How old are you?
Really? I would’ve guessed 30’s.
You look older than me, and I’m 25.
Hmm. I wasn’t in the right mood to engage in polite small talk, so I pulled out my iPad and continued my reading of the history of ESPN. Soon enough the first lab tech came back with my results-positive on both accounts (I don’t know the specifics, but they always run two separate tests when looking for Dengue Fever).
Things That Make Me Feel Like a Real Peace Corps
- -Riding in the backs of trucks in lawn chairs
- Not having internet access at home
- Being told "Kosrae wangen atros"=The island is out of eggs
- hiking Menke
- Getting Dengue Fever
Much like the rash, though I was no longer in any pain, the actual test being positive made me uneasy. If you read the story about the spider, you know that I usually start laughing or reacting in an inappropriate manner if something is making me feel uncomfortable or nervous. First words out of my mouth?
Positive. Well, that’s cool.