Monday, August 16, 2010

Diagnosis: Simple Virus

Today, we got the news that we had been hoping and praying for - Henry does not have Dengue Fever! Although his fever had subsided, he developed a rash on his torso so the doctor wanted him tested for Dengue. This morning, we again hopped the water taxi to the mainland for a blood test at a medical lab in Belize City. After an hour, we were told that the Dengue test was negative. We walked the results down to the pediatric clinic to show the doctor, and he confirmed that it is just a virus - not Dengue.

Other than the time that Caroline was hospitalized as in infant for dehydration, I don't think I have ever been as scared as I was these past few days. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than hearing the words, "Potentially life threatening," come out of your child's doctor's mouth. It has been 6 days since Henry first developed his fever and we haven't slept much. We have been riddled with worry - and with guilt.

Up until the last few days, we really didn't think that the mosquitos were that bad here (we've certainly had FAR more problems with them in Michigan). Though we each had a couple of bites, it was really the flies and sand fleas that were more troublesome. We also assumed that the strong ocean breezes would blow the mosquitos away. However, we are next to a jungle, so with every rain came the mosquitos.

As Bill and I sat waiting for the water taxi to bring us back to Caye Caulker today, we wondered how the poor islanders here would have been able to deal with a similar situation. These people face the threat of mosquito borne illnesses like Dengue Fever and Malaria everyday and have very little means to prevent it. They don't have air conditioned homes that they can close up at night and they certainly don't have easy access to medical care if and when they do get sick. It is heart breaking to think of them having to watch their babies suffer through one of these illnesses. Our hearts were breaking for Henry, and he is otherwise strong and healthy - what if he already had other medical issues to contend with?! I can hardly let myself think about it . . .

When we went to the travel clinic in Chicago, we were vaccinated for Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Tetanus and were given Malaria prophylaxis. Dengue Fever was vaguely mentioned, but there was nothing we could do about it, so we sort of dismissed it. I left the clinic thinking it was just a mild disease. Having done hours of research this past week, I discovered how wrong that thinking was! Dengue Fever is fast becoming a global threat and is every bit as serious as Malaria. However, there is little mention of it in the media. It is a serious, painful disease that has the potential to develop into Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, a life threatening complication. Once contracted, there is little you can do other than wait it out. There is no medication, no vaccine and no treatment other than rest and hydration. It is extremely scary!

Given the events of the past few days, Bill and I have decided to cry "UNCLE!" and leave Caye Caulker in the morning. We cannot prevent the kids from getting more bites here, and we cannot relax. We have this beautiful house with big french doors that we are too scared to open, and gorgeous decks that we are too scared to sit on. It just isn't worth it anymore. We have bought tickets for the early morning boat to Chetumal, Mexico where we will board a bus to Tulum. We still need to use tonight to do some further planning, but we are thinking that we will find a resort along the shore and away from the jungle (anyone who knows us, knows how desperate we must feel to be considering an all-inclusive resort!). Hopefully, we will find a spot where we can relax and enjoy ourselves again. Kim and Ruby have been absolute life savers and have done everything in their power to make our stay here a good one, but it is time for us to move on. When we started out, we said that we would go somewhere until it didn't work for us anymore, and Belize just isn't working for us right now.


  1. This is very good news about Henry. Be safe in your travels.

  2. We are very happy that Henry is feeling better. We are saddened by the news that you are leaving, but proud of where your priorities are. The kids have no idea how lucky they are to have you as parents. One day they will!
    Please continue to write about your next adventure!
    We love you and think about you everyday!

    Tons of love,
    Boob-boop & Apie

  3. Having trouble with internet connections where we are. Having a lovely time and all are well. Will get back to the blog asap.

  4. Jude,
    Glad to hear that Henry is alright, great news! Sure it was somewhat of a hard decision to reach but sounds like the right thing to do. As April said, I'm proud of your priorities! And it doesn't for a second take away any of the already amazing, once-in-a-lifetime, life-altering experiences that you guys have already obtained. It's been so inspiring and mind-opening to follow your stories and experiences (btw: I thought I was posting my comments all along but don't think I was doing it right). Hope this one gets to you. Miss you guys!