S M Ong: Because of dengue, my wife can't brush her teeth
My wife had a fever.
Or at least we believed she had a fever.
To double-check, we used different thermometers, but each thermometer showed a different temperature. Stupid cheap thermometers.
I suggested that she go to our neighbourhood supermarket and get her temperature checked at the entrance. If she had a fever, they would tell her.
She said I was an idiot.
It's never a good time to have a fever, but this is a particularly bad year to have a high temperature.
They won't let you into the supermarket to enjoy the aircon, I mean, buy food and other essentials.
Since the circuit breaker started, my family have avoided going out unnecessarily, but that doesn't mean we haven't gone out at all.
Is it possible that my wife got the coronavirus?
But she hadn't lost her sense of taste or smell, which is reportedly a symptom of Covid-19. She still enjoyed her teh-o and complained about my armpit odour.
Apart from the fever, she also had diarrhoea and started having rashes all over her body. The itch kept her up all night.
After two nights without sleep, she decided to see a doctor at our neighbourhood clinic.
The doctor said the rash was a "classic" sign of dengue and took my wife's blood to send for a test to confirm.
He told her to drink lots of water and stop brushing her teeth to prevent bleeding. Just use mouthwash.
Who knew the first thing you had to sacrifice if you get dengue is proper oral hygiene?
The doctor also warned that she would suffer "bone-crushing pain" - but sent her home with medication only for her diarrhoea and rash.
Even though he told her to take Panadol for the fever and pain, he didn't actually prescribe her any.
When she asked him what the treatment for dengue was, he replied: "Time."
That first doctor's visit cost $123.05.
She didn't even get an MC because she's a housewife, I mean homemaker, I mean stay-at-home mum, whatever.
The doctor seemed rather casual about a disease that has already killed at least 12 in Singapore with more than 10,700 infected this year.
Sure, Covid-19 has more than double the fatalities, but this ain't a competition. Or is it?
Later that day, my wife received a call from the clinic about the test results.
Near my block, there was a red dengue alert banner that said: "There are 10 or more dengue cases in your neighbourhood."
Thanks to my wife, the figure would have to be updated.
She was told to return to the clinic the next day for another blood test.
The test results showed that her "numbers" were "low", which was a bad thing, but not "low" enough for her to be hospitalised.
She was just told to keep returning to the clinic for more blood tests.
In the end, she took a total of four blood tests and had the bruises on her arms to prove it.
Each test after the first one cost $17.10.
The "bone-crushing pain" came as the doctor predicted. My wife felt like a different part of her body was being attacked each day.
One day, it was her arms. The next day, it was her back. Then it was her legs. Then only her feet. Then weirdly, behind her right eye.
I made her ham sandwiches to ease her suffering, but she still did the laundry.
Because of the coronavirus, we were staying home most of the time anyway. So it's not like her illness changed our lives that much.
Except, you know, for the "bone-crushing pain" part.
Actually, for her, the rash was worse. The pain could be managed with painkillers, but the relentless itch prevented her from getting much sleep.
I slept fine.
About a week after the first doctor's visit, my wife appeared to have recovered.
No more fever. No more diarrhoea. No more rash. No more weird pain behind her right eye.
Her final test results showed that her numbers were back to normal.
As the doctor said: "Time."
I read that last week, the number of new dengue cases in Singapore hit a new high, breaking the record of 891 cases set in 2014.
I wonder if my wife contributed to the new record.
She doesn't care. She is just relieved to be allowed to brush her teeth again.
Yeah, me too.