Fever. How do you handle it? You take paracetamol and get on with it. You go to work. That’s what I do. I’m sure that’s true for most you.
What if the fever refuses to go away even after popping two paracetamols every six hours? That’s what happened to me. The body temperature remained high. A thermometer became my constant companion.
However, as you will agree, in these COVIDian times, fever is suddenly more sinister. So, when I came down with fever and body pain, I wasted no time getting tested for COVID-19. The test returned negative. In a few days, my body pain vanished. But the fever kept me on a slow burn.
COVID-19 or viral fever?
There was some respite after three days of rest. But my eagerness to resume duty spelt disaster. What followed was a fever that raged for 10 days. Food felt so tasteless that I was forced to sustain myself on kanji (gruel or rice porridge). And I became weak.
My doctor friend assured me that I didn't have COVID-19 symptoms; it looked more like a virulent viral fever. Even if it was COVID-19, the treatment is the same. “We treat for the symptoms. So just have paracetamol,” he insisted.
The soles of my feet felt like they were on fire. My legs were warm. My arms too, occasionally. It was a bit like arthritis, but I wasn’t worried. After all, my fever stayed away. That was all I wanted.
But I was wary and not easily satisfied. I remembered my father’s remedies: steam inhalation for cold, and warm saline water gargle for sore throat. My throat wasn’t sore, but on some mornings I woke up with one of the nostrils blocked. So steam inhalation and saline water gargle four times a day became part of my regimen.
That was not all. Vitamin C and B complex tablets joined my daily diet. Zinc tablets too; that was my boss’ suggestion. All my friends and colleagues had plenty of advice to offer. And I was prepared to try anything and everything. I knew I was clutching at straws, but I would have done anything to make the fever vanish.
I called up a colleague who went through a similar spell of fever. His experience helped. It gave me an idea of what to expect. One advice from him which I diligently followed was to have plenty of fluids.
Help and advice aplenty
More help came from friends. One of them gave me tips on diet. He said kanji and payar (moong dal or green gram) was the best; that’s what I’d been having. He said curd was fine, but not yoghurt (it’s heavy on the stomach, he says). Oranges and lemon juice are fine, but not the first thing in the morning, he added.
I followed his advice because he’s obsessed with naturopathy and Ayurveda. When I told him that I had some fiery rasam (a south Indian soup-like dish) to revive my taste buds, he was furious. “Wrong thing to do,” he messaged urgently. I needed to calm my stomach, not set it on fire! Which meant only soothing foods, he said.
At that point I would have done anything to quell the fever. I'd stopped watching TV; barely followed social media, and kept reading to the minimum. All I did was eat a bit and sleep for seven days. That helped and slowly I reduced my paracetamol intake to one tablet; that too only when I felt feverish.
At the end of 10 days, the fever eased. My body temperature dipped below 99F. I was thrilled but fragile. Mutton soup helped. Not an old wives tale, mutton soup. My appetite returned slowly and I could feel the strength seep back into my sinews.
Things were still not fully okay. The soles of my feet felt like they were on fire. My legs were warm. My arms too, occasionally. It was a bit like arthritis, but I wasn’t worried. After all, my fever stayed away. That was all I wanted.
With each passing day, my health improved. I am now close to my usual self. I have resumed my morning walks down the Sharjah Al Majaz Waterfront. Living room yoga was a drag in any case. I prefer the fresh morning air, albeit only on the half of my face not hidden beneath my mask. I enjoy the twittering of the birds and sound of water lapping against the concrete wall on Khalid Lagoon, before I strap on my headphones and tune into my favourite podcasts.
Mornings never felt so good. There’s something especially magical about it when you have spent two weeks battling an unreasonable fever.
For the record, I tested COVID-19 negative. But, was it a “false negative”? I hope not. Although, if it was then I would have gained antibodies and some immunity. Not that it's worth celebrating.