This mosquito-borne virus will knock you on your ass, let you get up, and then knock you on your ass again and again.
Other than the symptoms of a rash and bone-crunching pain, chikungunya had something else in store for me: it climbed into my brain and turned a night’s sleep into two hours of delirium that left me questioning my sanity. Thoughts, writhing like snakes, filled my head … sinister thoughts, dark thoughts that did not belong to me. These thoughts raged and I was terrified and then suddenly, as if speared by a brilliant light, I was filled with the joy of all that is good in my life. Afraid and unable to control the war going on in my cranium; I sprang out of bed and paced the room. I was shouting and talking to myself, chuckling, saying the weirdest things. In a calmer moment, I thought about calling an ambulance or a friend, or leaping out of the window. I was losing my mind …
Writhing from the heat, my body dissolving into the brazier of sopping sheets, the fever broke, and I shivered as though packed in ice.
I woke to sunlight streaming through the windows. I had been out for almost 15 hours.
Now it was just a matter of waiting it out. There is little else you can do. Lots of people suggested herbal remedies, infusions made from the leaves or roots of various tropical plants. It seems that these alleviated the symptoms for some people but not for others.
I tried a couple of traditional remedies, but what worked best for me was regular doses of paracetamol and plenty of rest, rest and more rest …
Folks said I had been lucky; my symptoms were nowhere near as bad as they could have been. I agree, as some friends are feeling the effects of the virus six month on. I still have days of flu-like symptoms but I know—after almost six weeks—I am on the mend.
The memory of a night spent hovering below the rafters as if on a bad trip is one that will stay with me. As will the knowledge that demons lurk in the dark corners of my subconscious. Perhaps it’s a good thing to know they are there, although I’m still trying to come to terms with that one.
Today, I was bitten by a mosquito but they say you can only get the virus once, and I’m grateful for that.