So today is day four of my two week long doctor-prescribed “don’t even get up to make yourself a can of soup” bed-rest. I must say, for the social butterfly I am, constantly moving from one coffee date to another, I’ve taken to this quite well. Don’t get me wrong, the first couple of days were HARD. You don’t really think about how productive your day is until you’re forced to slow down.
Back in January I had come down with what I thought was the flu. Fever, chills, body aches, the whole nine yards. This mystery bug hung around for about a week (both my boyfriend and I had it) until we started to get our strength back. Nick fully recovered and was back to work. I however was not so lucky. I managed to go back to work but I just wasn’t feeling quite right. It was like the bug was more of a parasite, giving me just enough strength to stand, then draining me by the end of the day.
I went to my doctor and explained to her my symptoms. They ran a couple of blood tests and a urinalysis and eventually I was sent home with amoxycillin. “This should take care of it…. whatever it is…” I reluctantly took the antibiotic, since I still didn’t know why I was so tired and felt nauseous every time I ate or drank, but I just wanted to get better. Four days in, I started running a 103 fever, had a sore throat and then broke out into a head to toe, pits of hell kind of firey rash. And I’m not just talking like, little speckles. Noooo, this was like patches on patches of red, itchy, miserable hives. So needless to say, I immediately made another appointment.
This time, the doctor seemed surprised to hear about the rash, but told me to continue the amoxycillin and that it would get better. I knew my body and knew that more drugs was NOT what I needed. I stopped the antibiotic and sure enough, the rash was gone two days later.
Rashless, feverless and with a soothed throat, I still found myself right back where I had started; sick, tired and with lots of questions. I returned to my doctor, this time with my sassy pants on. I was at my breaking point. Being sick for 3 months with no explanation and seemingly no interest from my doctor in finding the answers, I walked in and said “I am seriously ill. And it’s not getting better. I need you to help me, or I can find someone who will.”
They sent me for an abdominal CT scan and MRI. I was told it was anything from an umbilical hernia to a hepatic cyst. None of these diagnoses came with explanations or what-to-do-nexts. They were simply just telling me what the inside of my body looked like, and leaving the rest up to me.
Keep in mind, while all of this is going on I’m still living with and taking care of an older man in a wheelchair with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s. I would come into work at 11pm, wake up every couple of hours to check on him, then get a few more precious hours in before 7am rolled around and I had to help him get up and dressed for work in the morning. By 9am, I was exhausted and couldn’t even think of making the trek down to DC for a 10 hour day like I had been doing the six months leading up to this sickness.
I sought out an internal medicine specialist who was rumored to be the female hippy version of Doctor House. I was excited to get some answers. Finally. I was led back the hall to the examination room where I sat for about 15 minutes. After the doctor came in, she asked about my symptoms, my current medications, what tests I’ve had, etc. Then she felt around my abdomen. My throat. My groin. My armpits. She didn’t say much, but when she did, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “You have Mono.”
Apparently I had been trying to force my body to function normally with this debilitating virus inside of it. This threw my blood pressure out of whack and caused me to become light-headed while standing/sitting. I had gotten this diagnosis before, so it was less than terrifying. The scary part came when she told me I would not get better (and the virus could potentially get worse, turning into MS or lymphoma) unless I took this bed-rest seriously.
I’ve lost 20 pounds of muscle, and four months of my life. So here I am with my rice&beans, Netflix que and tons of pillows. Ready to fight…
Side Note: Apparently that bastard rash I had was from the Amoxycillin reacting with the Mono. So if you have Mono, don’t take any Penicillin derivative. Hippie doctor told me this, and WebMD confirmed it. Yikes.