"Her life was pick up one," said my mother-in-law, using a Chinese turn of phrase (她的命是捡回来的). "We almost lost her."
"I remembered going to the hospital every day to visit her," I said.
"I don't remember much," said the wife.
"You were in a daze most of the time because of the fever," I said. "You kept holding on to my hand and saying weakly, 'Don't go, don't go, stay with me.'"
"That part I remember," the wife laughed.
It was the early nineties when this happened. My in-laws were away at Bali with her two younger brothers for a holiday and the wife, then my girlfriend, was at home alone with her paternal grandfather. I was in the midst of my university exams and was trying to make it through my papers.
Then Ginny complained of a fever and I told her to see her doctor. The GP said it was just a fever and gave her some meds for it. For the rest of the week, her fever came and went, came and went. She was getting weaker and weaker.
Worried, I told her to see another doctor, to get a second opinion. Her family had also returned home by then, and her mother immediately sent her to another GP because her skin had reddish spots and she was getting darker.
Her grandfather, who was recovering from a stroke from a fall, sat in the house, and reported to my mother-in-law, in Hakka, "Chin Nee hao xing ku." ("Ginny is in a lot of physical suffering.")
"If I had come home from the holiday even a day or two later, who knows what might have happened?" said my mother-in-law.
This new doctor took one look at Ginny's skin and said, "It is dengue, she has to be hospitalized".
She spent one week in the hospital battling the dengue fever. She got really dark, like she had a tan, even though she was not exposed to the sun at all. Those rashes mean that her platelets were likely crashing. The hospital gave her a blood transfusion, I recall.
Sometimes, she was awake and lucid. Other times she would seem like she wasn't all there.
I visited every day, trying to make time to be by her side, even though the exams were quite a burden.
Eventually, the fever subsided and she was allowed to go home. I learned from then on, never to ignore fevers and always to be serious about dengue, especially now that I have three kids of my own.
As you know, dengue cases aren't getting fewer, even after 23 years. In fact, they are continuing to rise. It gets worse during the June peak season and since dengue is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, preventing the breeding of mosquitoes is key. The deadly buggers can breed in a pool of water as small as a 20-cent coin.
Please do the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout every Sunday, and every alternate day if you live in RED alert dengue clusters like Tampines. You know what? My wife lived in Tampines before we got married, when she got hit by dengue. I guess it was a red alert area even two decades ago.
You may also visit the NEA Dengue Portal for more info on the dengue situation in Singapore.
You can die from dengue. My wife was fortunate but I don't take chances any more. You shouldn't too.
(This is one of our earliest dating photos. We were a very prim and proper couple.)