Woeful and wan

We thought it was dengue.

I sat in my home office, clutching my son, tears streaming down my face as I prayed, “Please, not dengue. Please, not dengue.”

Lucas had been sick before. He was around three months old when he had an ear infection, then a mild fever, and a cough and cold, all within a span of two weeks. All of these were worrisome, of course, but he’d always been cheerful despite his symptoms, and he bounced back quickly.

About a month ago, Lucas had a teensy bit of blood in his stool. He was with me in the office, and he had four bowel movements within the day, which was unusual. But he didn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort. Still, Oneal brought him in for a checkup. The pedia didn’t seem worried.

Then, a few weeks ago, I had to go to work on a Sunday. Lucas and Oneal came along, since we were meeting family and friends after my appointment.

Oneal said Lucas seemed a little fussy while I was attending to work matters, but he thought it was just because it was a warm day. I finished my work obligations, and off we went to the Sunday market. On the way there, Lucas fell asleep. He looked a little grumpy, and he cried when he woke up.

We thought he was just feeling warm, since we were outdoors. We took off his socks and his pants, hoping he would feel more comfortable. But he slept and slept, and despite feeding and sleeping, he looked unhappy, and his body felt a little warm.

My mom and my brother arrived. They were supposed to take care of Lucas while Oneal and I went for an afternoon date. But they saw how grumpy he was, and we all decided that he needed to rest.

We went to Yale, so we could all rest comfortably. We gave Lucas some Tempra, and he promptly threw up.

We attempted the Tempra a few more times, and he threw up a few more times. He slept fitfully. Eventually we gave him smaller doses of medicine, and he didn’t throw up anymore. When he seemed calmer, we went home.

The next day, he didn’t have a fever anymore, but he was still a little warm. Yaya noticed that he had a rash on his body, arms and legs. She said her son had those symptoms, and it turned out to be dengue. I panicked, and I asked our pediatrician for an appointment.

Lucas was cheerful, but a bit lethargic. We packed his diaper bag, and Dad drove me, Lucas and Yaya to the hospital. Oneal met us there. At 2:00, the pediatrician saw us.

It wasn’t dengue. We breathed a sigh of relief. She said it was an allergy, or roseola, better known locally as “tigdas hangin.” She prescribed an antihistamine, and told us to give him Tempra if his fever came back.

Whatever it was, it went away on its own. The fever didn’t come back, and the red marks on his skin eventually turned out to be heat rash. Still, there was so much worry. Did we do something wrong? We probably forgot to put mosquito repellent lotion on his clothes. We forgot the mosquito net. Maybe I ate something bad. Maybe he has a food allergy. Maybe it’s skin asthma. Oh God oh God, please let me be sick so he doesn’t have to be.

The litany goes on and on, and it keeps going until the fever is gone, the rash is gone, the baby is back to his usual cheerful self, the pedia says it’s all okay. You can read all about the baby illnesses, but there’s no manual for how we parents were supposed to cope when the baby got sick.

Lucas is fine now, but I’m sure I’ll be a wreck again next time he gets sick.

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