How ChikV Hijacked Our Vacation and Continues to Disrupt Our Lives Part Three

If you haven’t already, read part one and part two.

As could be expected we were quite tired and lethargic, we slept for the entire weekend. What we didn’t expect was that this fatigue plagued us for about two weeks. My lymph nodes, although less painful, remained swollen for a week. I somehow got the impression, from all the information in the media and on the internet about the disease, that it was only a small percentage of persons whose joint pains persisted after the other symptoms subsided, this impression was totally incorrect. Over a month after having the disease I continued to experience joint pains. The most painful and frequent being the pain in my fingers and wrists. I couldn’t open a bottle or grasp things properly. Getting up from the bed in the morning or from sitting for a prolonged period would result in pain and stiffness in my knees, ankles, back and hips. I hobbled like an old lady. It also brought new dimensions to wearing heels. My ankles, which normally give me no problems at all, hurt during and after wearing heels. ChikV is also quite talented at digging up your old injuries and hurting you where you’re already vulnerable. An interesting and attractive after effect of the disease that I’ve been experiencing recently is excessive peeling of the skin on my feet.

It’s not just me, I’m surrounded daily by others who suffer along with me. Just this Saturday I attended a wedding and encountered women scrambling for seats during the cocktails to relieve their “ChikV ankles”. Half my department at work contracted ChikV and on a given day you can find someone getting up super slowly, rotating a joint to ease stiffness, or limping. In the height of the outbreak in Kingston it seemed like half the office was absent at any given time. On a visit to Island Grill I observed a sign apologizing to customers for delays in service as they were experiencing a high level of absenteeism due to Chikungunya.

Although the symptoms still haven’t subsided completely, I’ve noticed an improvement this week. The severity of the pain and stiffness has reduced slightly. I’m hoping they will do me a favour and allow me to enjoy the holiday season in peace but we’ll see. Even while typing this post the joints in my fingers have been quite stiff and my right knee started to hurt from sitting cross-legged for too long.

The scary thing, which I don’t like to think about is that these joint pains can last for years. I pray it doesn’t, I pray for us all. This is only intended to be a three part series and I’d hate to be writing a post one year from now discussing continued symptoms and after effects. I’d much prefer it to be a distant memory. THE END … soon…hopefully.



How ChikV Hijacked Our Vacation and Continues to Disrupt Our Lives Part Two

If you haven’t read part one, read it here.

We stayed in a beautiful and spacious room with a wonderful view. The hotel knew we were celebrating our anniversary. The bell hop gave us a bottle of wine and the hotel had chocolate covered strawberries and sweet treats waiting for us in our room along with a handwritten card and a spa discount certificate. Pity I didn’t get the chance to use it. I did drink the wine though. You must forgive me for the sparsity of pictures in these posts. As you can imagine, I wasn’t in the picture taking mood.

View of the beach from the hotel room where ChikV held us hostage

View of the beach from the hotel room where ChikV held us hostage

On Monday the 13th of October, our anniversary, we awoke and discussed what we planned on doing. Being the mushy woman I am, I had my heart set on going to a romantic dinner along Fort Lauderdale Beach and staring into my husband’s eyes that night, but we decided to play the daytime activities by ear. I suggested that since it was Columbus Day, maybe we should stop by the mall and get a few things since there would be sales. VERY BAD IDEA. Yes I did get some good bargains on some skinny jeans but, what was supposed to be a short stop at the mall turned into a four hour adventure at the end of which we were both feeling unwell. Anthony felt worse than I did, probably because he was the one who drove and had to deal with all the traffic while I napped in the passenger seat. When we got back to the hotel he went straight to sleep and slept through the evening and the entire night. He was sick, I couldn’t wake him, that would’ve been cruel, so much for the romantic dinner.

On Tuesday I awoke and went into the bathroom. I didn’t recognize the person who was staring back at me. The rash was back and it was back with a vengeance. I got my trusty Histal out and dosed up, got my makeup bag out and proceeded to cover the spots on my face. Like many Jamaicans, most times we visit South Florida, we spend the majority of the time shopping. We wanted to be different this time and just enjoy the area. Do some “tourist” activities, spend time together, relax. To that end we decided to go to Jungle Island. We had a great time there and it was a nice sunny day. We really enjoyed it. But near the end I started to feel ill and the rash which was a little itchy and unsightly in the morning had begun to intensify. On the way home I felt as if I was on fire. We stopped at CVS and I got some hydrocortisone cream, hoping that lathering it on would’ve helped.

We got back to the hotel and I was really hungry. I decided to remove my makeup and go downstairs and grab a pizza for our lunch. By then my rash was so bad that I could see people staring at me concerned and frightened as the spots on my face resembled something highly contagious. I decided not to leave the room again until it went away. That Tuesday was agony for me. The itching was the worst I’ve ever felt, worse than chicken pox. I started to wish I had some tamarind bush to boil and bathe in. My mind was filled with one thing and one thing only “Do not scratch it, do not scratch it, it will make it worse”. Anthony fell asleep but I could not, I was too itchy to sleep. In his sleep my husband’s foot would stretch across and touch me. Even that was agonizing. It intensified the itch in that area. I kept nudging the foot so that he’d move it and he would, but shortly thereafter it would return until one time when he got up grabbed his pillow and said “Fine! I’m going to sleep on the couch!”.

I felt terrible. Aside from the fact that he did nothing wrong and we were on our vacation, remember, Anthony was also ill. Although he had not had the misfortune of the dreaded rash, he was experiencing joint pains that seemed worse than mine,  weakness and the occasional fever and by now his gums had started to randomly bleed. He had enough to deal with. I apologized and he understood but he thought it best to stay on the couch. I didn’t sleep much that night. Every time Anthony passed the door to go to the bathroom he would peep in to see if I was asleep. I was always awake.

Wednesday morning I took the last of the bottle of Histal, and quite frankly it didn’t help much with this new mutant version of the rash. Anthony offered to change our flights so we could go home early. I refused. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to travel like that. Determined to do something to help me, Anthony set out to CVS to get me more medicine. He came back with Claritin and Allegra and ordered me not to leave the hotel room for the entire day. It really helped. On Thursday morning I felt much better. I took a cold shower and it felt so good. It seemed to calm the heat of the rash for a bit. The rash had started to subside but now I began to feel some swollen, hardened, painful bumps at the back of the neck, all around my ears, under my arms and around my groin. My husband informed me that these were in fact my lymph nodes which were now inflamed. Who knew we had so many lymph nodes? I should have paid more attention in high school Biology. Great! Just when we thought it was going to be over, another fun symptom to contend with. We took our usual pain killers and felt well enough to go out. We went to the mall and did a little shopping and returned to the hotel. ChikV, like many other diseases, makes you quite tired so we weren’t able to do much. We took a nap and in the evening we met up with a friend for dinner.

Friday was our last day. The rash had fully gone down now and we decided to check out the beach. Being from the Caribbean we were pretty sure we wouldn’t enjoy it. That it wouldn’t be as nice as the beaches at home. We were pleasantly surprised. The water was actually very clear, we could see right to the bottom. It was shallow for quite a far distance out. The sand was soft. It was wonderful and refreshing. By far the best part of the vacation. We both wished we had gone in sooner. We’ll definitely be back. We got out, checked out and headed to the airport. After an uneventful flight, our friend picked us up at the airport, we got some fast food, went home and collapsed into bed.






How ChikV Hijacked Our Vacation and Continues to Disrupt Our Lives Part One

Long title huh? Wondering where I’ve been? Here’s the story:

On October 7th while attending a friend’s baby shower, my husband complained of joint pain while he got out of his car on his return home from work. By the next morning he was totally overtaken by Chikungunya (ChikV) . Keep in mind we had already planned and paid for a vacation which was set to begin on October 10th. He couldn’t move that next day despite putting himself on a strict panadeine regimen, taking it religiously at the prescribed frequency. I took care of him as best I could while ramping up my own prevention campaign by dowsing every inch of myself in repellent, refusing to open windows, using vape, among other things. I suggested to Anthony that maybe we should check out the cancellation policy of the airline, but he insisted that it wasn’t necessary and laboured on like a real champ.

Well, much to my distress, on October 9, the day before our vacation, while having wine with a friend, I began to feel  joint pains in my fingers and collarbone. Had it been my knee I would’ve brushed it off as regular joint pain due to past injuries or something, but finger joints? Collarbone? Those aren’t joints I’m familiar with feeling pain in. All of a sudden it hit me, I have ChikV. I don’t know how to describe the flood of emotions I felt next. I’d been looking forward to the vacation for what felt like eons and I was making such an effort to not be ill on my vacation and BAM! There it was. I was outraged and disappointed.

We both packed and went to bed. Intent on not letting the disease defeat us. In the morning our dear friend and frequent airport transportation,came to take us to the airport. As though it was fate, he happened to have a bottle of Histal with him that he had bought because the ChikV rash was driving him nuts. That morning I had also woken up with the rash all over my body. He graciously allowed me to steal it from him and I took a dose as well as Panadeine for the joint pains. The rash quickly subsided. Off we went.

First stop was Baltimore for a family event. I’m the kind of passenger that falls asleep as soon as she boards the plane. I’m asleep before the seatbelt sign is turned on, before the safety announcements, before the takeoff. I was out like a light. Incidentally my husband hates this because he’s not quite as gifted in the sleep department and ends up being alone for the entire flight. I got quite a bit of rest on the way, between my affinity for sleeping on flights and being drugged up, as you can imagine. So when we got to Baltimore in the late afternoon and my husband decided to call it a night, I went to hang out with my Dad, at my cousin’s house. Well, I paid for being over zealous. That night Anthony woke me worried, I was roasting with fever. He gave me an extra dose of medicine and all I can remember next is waking up completely wet in wet pajamas, wet sheets, wet everything. The fever “broke”.

On Saturday morning I had all these plans. I wanted to check out the farmers market and the aquarium. I even planned to take pictures and blog about it. I convinced Anthony to come along with me. We decided to stop at the CVS one block away first to pick up some supplies. After leaving CVS I said to him, “I feel like I could just turn around and go back to the hotel”. He quickly agreed. We made a quick stop in Whole Foods, across from the CVS, to get some fruit, juice, water and lunch for the day and headed back into bed where we hibernated until it was time to go to the family event that night.

We made it through the event fine. It wasn’t bad at all. Having all that rest. We thought we were getting better. Silly us.

On Sunday we slept right up until it was time to get ready to check out. I asked the woman at the front desk for a restaurant recommendation and she recommended Ten Ten which was deeeeeeelicious and they served brunch until 3pm which was in line with our “sleep as long as possible” state of being. After brunch we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Fort Lauderdale where we planned to spend the next few days and celebrate our second anniversary. After arriving at the hotel in Fort Lauderdale we pretty much went to sleep. Keep in mind that all this time we are popping pills “on time, every time” exactly as prescribed to keep our symptoms at bay.