Bad LuckHue

5 days in a Vietnamese Hospital with Dengue Fever

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It all started on the night train from Hanoi to Huế. In the middle of the night I woke up a bit feverish, feeling hot and cold at the same time. I tried to sleep it off but was still feeling very weak when we finally arrived in Huế. Luckily it was only a short taxi ride to the hotel. We checked in, I slept some more and promised Birthe we’d go to the doctor if I wasn’t feeling better after a good night’s sleep. The next morning I woke up feeling pretty OK. The fever was gone (we have a thermometer with us to check) and I enjoyed breakfast and a nice shower. Danger averted!

Unfortunately I started feeling worse again in the afternoon. I took a quick nap in our hotel room and woke up with a another fever. As promised it was time to see a doctor. We checked with the hotel and they sent us to the nearby Huế Hospital, just a short taxi ride down the road. It was already past 6pm so there was no-one at the reception but eventually we ended up at the ICU where they promptly put me in a hospital bed, checked on my vitals and drew some blood. One of the nurses knew some English and tried to explain what was happening. He told us we’d get the results in 2 hours.

A few hours passed and in the meantime they had dressed me in a hospital gown and moved me to a bed in a large room full of other patients. At least there was a curtain to get some privacy as everyone seemed to be staring at the only Western people in the room. Birthe tried to get some information from the nurses and what appeared to be my doctor, but the language barrier made that quite difficult. Eventually some of the results came back. It wasn’t Malaria (great news!) but I’d have to stay until the morning for another blood test. Birthe went back to the hotel and I tried to get some sleep in a room with dozens of other coughing and snoring people.

Passing time by Reading
Chicken Soup from the Hospital Cafetaria

I was already feeling a lot better in the morning. No more fever and the breakfast Birthe brought was very welcome. They drew some more blood and the nurse promised we’d know more at 2pm. The nurse did come back with my blood results, showed them to us and tried to explain the different values. Apparently my platelet count was low, which was an indicator of dengue fever. They’d have to follow up on this which meant a few more days in the hospital. We asked a few people if it was possible to move to a smaller room and eventually we managed to ask someone who apparently had the authority to make that happen. A few hours later I was in room with 1 other Vietnamese kid (who had been in a traffic accident). This room actually had airconditioning, an ensuite bathroom and a TV, so this was definitely an improvement. I also managed to get the WiFi password and the kid liked watching English cartoons, so there was some entertainment, at least.

The next few days were pretty frustrating, I was feeling good but had to stay for more blood tests. To make matters worse the friendly kid was moved and replaced with an old man who liked listening (he wasn’t really watching) to Vietnamese television. At night he enjoyed coughing and snoring. One day the WiFi stopped working and no-one seemed to be interested in fixing it, so the rest of the days were very boring. Birthe was getting tired of having to get take-away for lunch and dinner as well, but the food in the hospital cafetaria wasn’t that great so it was our only option.

Except for the very first day we didn’t really see a doctor, so after 4 nights in the hospital I went looking for him myself and asked when I would be able to leave the hospital. He said something along the lines of “Oh, you want to leave?”, took another look at my test results, checked with administration if everything was paid (more on that in a second) and told me I could leave immediately if I wanted to. When asked what had been wrong with me he just confirmed “dengue fever” and that was that. I got out of the hospital gown they put me in 4 days ago and just walked out of the hospital. We stayed in Huế for 2 more days, just to be sure, and were on our way again.

Very happy with the Pizza Birthe brought
Enjoying some take-away on the Hospital Bed

We did some online research of our own and it does seem like dengue fever fit the symptoms perfectly. You basically just have to sit it out and make sure it doesn’t get worse during the first week. It also mentioned that the fever would probably be coming back for 1-2 days, which did happen for me when we were in Hoi An. Symptoms can linger for 3-4 weeks, so I have a few more days of feeling a bit weaker left.

The silver lining to all of this: it seems like the travel insurance we got is definitely worth its money. We contacted them the moment we got in the hospital and after a few emails everything was arranged. They handled the payment directly with the hospital and I didn’t have to worry about anything. Without travel insurance that short stay in the hospital would have cost us about $1800, which is double of what we paid for a 1-year family plan.

All in all it wasn’t too bad. I was only feverish for 3 days in total and mainly just bored and frustrated about not knowing what was going on at the hospital. I’ll just make sure to use even more mosquito spray. Those annoying little devils can’t be trusted!