Bronchitis: Strike Three!

Source: shutterstock

Source: shutterstock

Forgive me for not writing for such a long time,  but so much happened since words last appeared on this blog. I embarked on a rollercoaster but enjoyable trip to Sukkur and Moenjodaro and survived massive fatigue in Swat.

For the last two years, I had caught the condition of bronchitis roughly around this time of the year. I had resolved that this year would be different. However, not to be. For the third straight year, I am now fighting the terrible condition of bronchitis which has made life as difficult for others around me, as for myself. It conveniently came when I was on an official tour to the northern parts of the country, which are not particularly known for moderation in cold temperatures. Perhaps leaving me in a more humiliating position than ever before.

I wrote about how bronchitis felt last winter. Similar feelings now. The same coughing fits. It’s just that I was prepared for it to hit this time around.

Just did not know I would hit the emergency twice in two days. Even though it just hit at the perfectly wrong time. When I was out in the field for work and just when I needed to keep myself fit and well. But I was anticipating its arrival. It was just a matter of time. And I would be lying if I said I took enough precautions. I guess it takes walking around wrapped in a quilt.

But as I approach the next year, I do have one resolution to make among a few others. I am not going to catch bronchitis for the fourth year in a row.

But I have a feeling that I will be writing a similar post next winter. And I seriously doubt that I would be walking around wrapped in a blanket.

I predicted it the last time too.

The Bronchitis Post

Source: healthtap.com

Source: healthtap.com

For the second straight year, at this very time of the year, I have been hit with the terrible condition of Bronchitis. Now that I think about it, it was perfectly avoidable, regardless of the fact that I have seen many people in the community exhibiting similar symptoms.

The dry roughness of the parts from the nasal cavity all the way down to the trachea makes this condition absolutely unbearable for the initial days, not to mention the brain-paralyzing fever. And not sure if it gets any better unless you pursue aggressive treatment proactively. I am not sure if you can leave this condition as it is and wait for it to get better. Maybe you can, but not sure. I was prescribed antibiotics and an NSAID. In any case, I guess this must be the closest you get to pneumonia.

Sickness can really paralyze your body and mind, but it has its due share of pleasures. It offers you the reshuffling of brain cells required for the much needed clarity every now and then. Not to mention the freshness of perspective and a renewed sharpness for concentration. Or maybe it’s just the drugs that I am heavily under the influence of these days. Though I am still pretty dizzy, 7 days and counting. So probably you do need a jolt like this every now and then to get your act straight and wear down the lethargy of being healthy.

However, the note to myself following this experience is what I would probably be ignoring around this time of the next year. Cover yourself properly when winter gets at its worst. Especially when you don’t have the most enviable heating around, if at all.

Cold kills people. It kills hundreds of people in this part of the world, by which I mean, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan. Particularly the homeless without adequate heat and shelter. It has even killed at least a dozen on the US East Coast following one of the worst blizzards in history.

And this is probably how the cold kills.

Dengue Fever Blues

Source: phuketgazette.net

Dengue fever. I had heard the name of the disease quite a few times throughout my life, ever since my childhood, and I had always taken it lightly. Of course you are not supposed to get freaked out by a disease you don’t even know about when you are a child, until recently as all that changed  A serious dengue fever epidemic broke out in Punjab with its greatest concentration in Lahore. Thankfully, as yet, I or anyone that I know personally have not been infected yet, which is a great advantage of not living in Lahore right now, or say, the parts of Lahore which are getting affected the most, as there are many cities within cities.

Becoming sick in a country where an epidemic outbreak is wreaking havoc can be a very dangerous feeling. In case of dengue fever, caused by dengue virus of the genus Flavivirus spread by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes recognized by its distinct white spots or stripes, the very thought, let alone actually contracting the fever, is probably much more excruciating than any other disease. There is a reason for that. The symptoms of the disease are so vague and commonplace that everyone who gets ill can start fearing for their lives.

Of course, the bone-breaking part of the fever and the appearance of the rash are very specific symptoms that point towards dengue fever, but other than that you would never be able to tell if you have the virus in your veins and if you are in risk of developing serious complications that it could lead to. So it is only natural that the entire city turned up to get themselves tested for dengue fever at hospitals in Lahore. What makes things even worse is that in many cases, it remains asymptomatic. Surviving with the dengue fever virus can be alright, but that exposes other people to the risk of infection.

No one would be afraid of, or even give a damn about the dengue fever thing had so many people not died because of it in its present outbreak in Lahore, with over 5,000 cases reported, over 100 lost their lives and many ill even at this time as I write these lines. I have not kept the exact count of the deaths caused by the epidemic, or at least that is what have been thought to have caused those deaths, but each time you hear the news of more deaths, it shakes you for a minute, frightening you, while also alarming you and renewing your caution.  Although statistically, the death toll resulting from dengue fever is supposed to be extremely low. Maybe, the deaths caused by now have been extremely low. Who knows. One death seems a lot.

This is where an epidemic can be frightening. It is living among death, in a sense. But not too much. I recall that the world has seen worst epidemics, and pandemics for that matter. Wonder how they would have lived through the Black Death.

There is no vaccine or treatment for dengue fever, they tell me. This is how much control we have over the life of the patient, but the treatment is based on symptoms.

This makes you wonder how helpless we are. The only way to evade the disease is to kill mosquitoes and not to let them bite you. Simple. But it is not that simple. At the same time, the politics people argue about it as usual and people die, suggesting that perhaps not even an alien creature can unite the human species. So much for Roland Emmerich’s ideals. If you don’t believe me, you can enlarge a mosquito to giant size and see for yourself what I mean by the alien creature. Now I spend my days dodging it all the time.

Although dengue fever poses a statistically small threat of hemorrhagic fever resulting in death, but how do you know you are not under the risk when you suffer from it. And there is no way to kill the microbe because it is a virus, yeah right. That’s just about how strong human beings are on a cosmic level. The question is what is the point of creating all the sophisticated weapons in the world, which are supposed to protect you, when you cannot even protect yourself from a damn virus, or even a mosquito if its occurrence is not prevented in the first place.

This also raises a question about priorities. Neither will everyone see this nor necessarily agree with it, but why cannot humans as a species concentrate on research that allows them to overcome microbes and diseases resulting in severe complications and deaths with increased focus, and I mean spending more on it than on other apparently useless ventures, as I am sure medical research is always an ongoing process and has made tremendous progress.

Because to me, the measure of the scientific progress of the humans is the absence of a vaccine for a microbe that causes a deadly disease. And I am not even talking about the efforts of the local governance because usually this particular disease breaks out in countries with low resources and generally incompetent and/or corrupt governments.

However, I salute all the medical professionals whoever they are and where ever they are working against this epidemic and curing people and most of all, offering them hope for life. I can never do that. Believe me, you live like never before after you have a close encounter with death.

Why not wage wars and Crusade and Jihad against mosquitoes, especially the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, instead of each other.

At least I am declaring Jihad against mosquitoes.