Last Wednesday night Naomi and Jessie the Confinement Nanny were wondering why Kai had started sporting a few freckles and moles on his face and body. We had no idea what was to follow.
Thursday morning saw a few more spots on his face, some reddish, some brown, and there was a bruise on his leg. A diaper soiled by weird coloured poop confirmed a trip to the doctor’s, where we were told to walk across the road from Paragon and get Kai warded immediately because it was suspected that his platelets were low, and that those spots weren’t moles or freckles, but bleeding under the skin. A check of his mouth showed more red spots on his upper palate.
We were terrified, but probably not as frightened as Kai was as he was taken to the treatment room for an intravenous plug to be inserted in his wrist, and several blood samples taken from him before he was handed back to us in our room, bruised and all cried out.
About an hour later, the results came back, and we were strangely relieved he had tested positive for dengue.
The doctor explained that his platelets were around 10,000 units per litre (a healthy level is 150,000 – 400,000 units) and that a transfusion was needed.
It turned out to be two transfusions before his platelet levels climbed out of the danger zone, and he stopped being bruised everywhere we held him. Even the blood pressure machine cuffs bruised him on the first two days. Apparently, spontaneous bleeding occurs when platelets fall below 30,000.
I had never heard of an 8 week old baby getting dengue, and as far as we could tell, neither had the nursing staff at the hospital, who kept telling us that Kai was being kept warded because of the availability of resources such as transfusions and medicines. We knew that it was also because dengue had the ability to turn things awry very very quickly. And that’s for adults.
But. thankfully, by Sunday, things stabilised enough for Naomi and I to take a walk out of the hospital and have dinner while Jessie took over the watch for a couple of hours. But probably the most relaxing meal outside the hospital was the one we had at home on Monday night when we were all home again after Kai’s platelet count had hit 78,000 in the morning.
The scary thing was that Kai didn’t have a fever throughout the episode, and we were really lucky to have gone in to the doctor’s on Thursday instead of doing the usual and practical wait and see.
The NEA response to my request that the entire Singapore be fumigated was measured and calm, and I was told that our block was fogged last Saturday, and that ‘measures are being taken with the management committee to try to make owners of vacant units open their premises for inspection’.
Then again, it wasn’t as if our apartment complex was swarming with mozzies in the first place. We hardly get any bugs in our flat. And as far as we know, Kai sported only the one mosquito bite on Monday night.
That’s all it takes.
First signs: spots and a cut (from fingernail) that took a long time to clot
The intravenous plug – must’ve hurt
Where they take blood samples from – we think Kai’s traumatised by it now because he gets really uneasy when you take his socks off