I just had my second or third bout of the extremely unpleasant dengue fever. I know you’ve heard all the classic advice for dealing with viral illness like get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Maybe you’ve even heard about the remedies like aloe juice and papaya leaf paste. What I’m fairly certain you haven’t heard is how to handle everyone’s second-favorite mosquito-borne illness like a journalist. Follow my lead if you dare.
First of all, make sure you get sick on deadline day. This means you probably have to get bit over the weekend, have a punishing and mysterious headache on always-busy pre-deadline day, and be reaching for whatever meds you can get your swollen little paws on for the all-important actual deadline day.
Speaking of medication, take some that you’ve never tried before. Later, you can make jokes about how you’ve puked out behind the office with the best of ’em. You can hint that this is because you are a hard-partying animal, rather than a dummy with a surprise drug allergy. Again, this should all happen on deadline day, so you can alternate writing and throwing up with no hope of leaving before your pages get sent.
As unhappy as your stomach is, you still have to eat. After things have calmed down, go for something bland and easy like a bowl of instant mashed potatoes. It’s very glamorous.
Once the paper is out, go ahead and stay home from work. Seriously, the last thing you want is the entire office also getting “breakbone fever” because the same mozzies that bit you are now biting and infecting them. That’s not cool.
But just because you’re home doesn’t mean you can’t work! If you plan it right, you can be home sick on a day the legislature is sitting, and have all the fun of listening to lawmakers conduct the public’s business while lying in bed. Nap while they take their breaks, and if you still have a fever, you might get really lucky and have a dream about the legislature. Freaking fever dreams.
Spend the next two to three days napping, watching cartoons, listening to audiobooks. Write one short story after you learn that someone else in the office is also sick. Go on that photo assignment with the cats. If possible, cuddle multiple cats.
When the rash appears, don’t scratch it. I know it’s all over and itches pretty much constantly, but the more you scratch, the itchier you will feel. It’s a dreadful cycle you don’t want to start.
Go back to work. Compare symptoms with co-workers, all of whom are now either sick or on vacation. Feel better than you actually are compared to the ones who are a few days behind you on the dengue calendar. Out on assignment, show off your rash to whoever wants to see. Listen to other people’s stories about what skin symptoms they and their family members have, and the debate about whether you have dengue or Chikungunya. Continue to drink lots of water, but don’t get on the internet, because that will only distract you from all those stories you didn’t write on your days off.
At the end of the day, feel great about getting some stuff done even though you’re still kind of sick. Feel even better that you didn’t get the scary hemorrhagic variety of dengue fever or something even worse. Vow to be militant about your application of homemade mosquito repellent in the future.