As most of you might already know, my eldest son got dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) last week. At the onset of his fever, Nathan already told me that he felt this wasn’t just your ordinary flu. His headache and body pains were severe and his fever spiked up to 40 degrees. On the third day of fever, we took him to the hospital for a blood test. He was confirmed positive for dengue. His platelet count had started to go down too. On the 6th day, his fever finally disappeared, and his platelet count took it’s lowest dip at 13,000 (the normal count is 150,000-400,000.) We were told that the next 24 to 72 hours would be critical because it was during this time that fluid would be leaking out of his blood vessels. They extracted blood every six hours, and watched out for shock, lung congestion and bleeding.
DHF is quite a tricky illness and can be fatal. The thing is, there is no specific medication for it. You are trapped into a waiting game, hoping that it doesn’t take a turn for the worst, as you wait for the virus to run its course in the patient’s body. Thankfully, after a week in the hospital, Nathan is home now, completely well.
I want to share some of the things I learned from our experience.
1. My family is not exempt from dengue or any disease for that matter. Jesus never promised us a life free of troubles, but He did promise to help us overcome. He promised us grace that is sufficient for whatever we are going through. He promised us healing and provision. He promised us rest in the midst of trials.
2. After reading article after article on dengue and talking with doctors, I learned that the one most important thing that a dengue patient can do is to stay hydrated during the illness. For mild cases that can be managed at home, drink lots and lots of fluids, but for severe cases, hospitalization is best. Do not have second thoughts about bringing your child to the ER. Early detection reduces the risk of complications. I thank God for assigning a doctor to us who was always a step ahead of every possible scenario in Nathan’s case.
3. It’ll always be hard for parents to see their children suffer, no matter how old they are. I thought it wouldn’t hurt as much to see my 17-year old in pain, knowing he was bigger and stronger. But I was wrong. It still hurt as much. I thank God for giving Nathan the strength to endure it and for giving us the grace to stay by his side.
4. My family is bigger than I thought. Nathan’s hospitalization gave me the opportunity to see our church in action. I think this was the “blessing in disguise” from our experience. As soon as word got out about Nathan’s condition, messages of prayer, faith and encouragement kept pouring in. We heard even from our friends from other countries. Several committed to fast for his healing. Our friends brought our meals, and even strangers dropped by to send us natural supplements for Nathan. Some offered to adopt our smaller kids for the day. And so many visited just to keep us company. We never had the chance to feel alone. Our spiritual family made sure we would never feel that.
5. I can always choose joy inspite of my circumstance. It was difficult to be in a situation where you can’t get any assurance that it will be okay. All we heard was “Let’s see…” Things were definitely out of our hands. But how could we choose joy? Because we knew that things were in God’s hands. While the doctors couldn’t give us any guarantees, we had this quiet assurance that God will deliver Nathan from this “deadly pestilence” as He promised in Psalm 91. We could choose joy as we hung on to every promise of healing God gave us through His word.
The last week was tough, yes. But it is a testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. As Charles Stanley puts it, “Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.”