“Dengue Fever! … I’ll be an RTW Rockstar!”


Well, this has been a rough week … especially for James. We’d only just arrived in Wellington, New Zealand when James got really sick. Scary sick. 

He went to bed feeling great, but at midnight he woke up extremely ill – sky-high fever, bone-shaking chills, and incredible muscle pain. All the symptoms you don’t want to have when you’ve just come from traveling in Southeast Asia for nearly two months.

At first we thought he had some awful flu, but as his illness progressed, it became apparent that this was more serious. He added fatigue, loss of appetite, and an unusual rash on his face to his roster of symptoms.

He went to a great doctor here in Wellington, and after a series of tests she determined that he has Dengue Fever. Wow! Didn’t see that one coming!

Although this illness is serious, fortunately he doesn’t have Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, and with some time, he will fully recover.

He got it from a mosquito bite (which is amazing because mosquitoes usually ignore him and go straight for me!) in Cambodia, Singapore, or Bali (given the potential incubation period). We never even saw a mosquito in any of those places, so we’re mystified.

There is no vaccination or prevention for Dengue Fever – and there is no treatment or cure. The virus just has to run its course … which is what it’s doing. Luckily, it’s not contagious. Every day he makes a little improvement, then some new, weird symptom shows up. Yesterday his fever was gone but he developed a new and different rash. This morning his chills were gone, but all his food tastes like metal and the bottoms of his feet feel like he’s walking on marbles. Go figure!

But those of you who know James, know that he has a great sense of humor (I think he’s definitely confusing the New Zealanders). Yesterday when the doctor gave him his diagnosis, I think she was expecting a somber response from him. Instead, James said (with a twinkle in his eye),

“Dengue Fever? … I’ll be an RTW Rockstar!”

That’s the James we all know and love.

Friday, I drug him all over town by taxi to visit the doctor and take all the various tests. Bless his heart – he felt like crap – and it showed. When I finally got him to the last place for blood tests (he doesn’t have a good history with this – lots of passing out), the waiting room was jam-packed with people. Uh-oh! But they took one look at him and vacated an entire couch so he could sit down. Then, nobody would sit beside him! I told him it was because he had that “wild stallion trapped in a box canyon” look in his eyes!

Meanwhile, we’re staying put here in Wellington – what a lovely city with kind, helpful people!), and James is working on his recuperation. I’m trying to find food that doesn’t taste like metal to him – so far the only winners are french fries and coconut cookies … hmmm!

Being sick on the road is truly the pits! Every traveler has a tale. Some experiences are worse than others, and this one is right up near the top … well it may be the top. It will enter into our collective memory as,

“Remember that time in Wellington when you went to sleep feeling good …
and woke up with Dengue Fever?”

In the meantime, I’m keeping a watchful eye on him. As the Doctor said – and our research shows – he’ll be fine in time. He’s very weak and can’t do much but stay in bed, which is what he needs to do. So that’s the latest, and I’ll keep you posted on his progress.


P.S. My incubation period isn’t over yet … so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

5 thoughts

    1. Thanks for the warm wishes Elke. Luckily, after quite a few months, I’m fully recovered from Dengue. It’s a strange disease, with very weird side effects, so a sense of humor is sometimes the best medicine. All the best. ~James

    1. I was one sick puppy in NZ and spent a couple of weeks in Wellington recovering. Luckily, I got well enough to travel and we took the train from Wellington to Auckland. It was a wonderful glimpse of the countryside. Auckland was very cool, but honestly, I wasn’t at my best. Dengue is a debilitating disease that takes weeks to get over, so I still had very little energy when I was there. We’ll be back at some point, and I won’t arrive from SE Asia, which is where I caught dengue (for the second time). ~James

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