Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mononucleosis: what its like to have Mono as an adult

I'm a 38 years old woman and I haven't felt well in weeks. The insidious and seemingly disconnected initial symptoms were; fatigue, belly pain & swelling, tmj (temple-mandible joint) flare-up, headaches, night chills/sweats, back pain, sunken eyes, and nausea. I say the symptoms were disconnected because they came & went unpredictably and didn't necessarily occur at the same time or in the same order. The quality and intensity of each complaint changed, too. Like the back pain; sometimes felt stabbing and sometimes was more of a burning pain, sometimes was acute and sometimes I couldn't tell where it hurt. Among all these symptoms, there were also periods of time where I felt normal.

At first I felt normal most of time which gradually changed to feeling mostly sick with the additional symptoms of: loss of appetite, mood changes (grumpy/irritable), and yellowing around my sunken eyes. My pants were too tight due to bloated abdomin and it was all I could do to show-up in clean clothes. I began over-sleeping & arriving late to work, taking naps on my breaks, and asking to leave early. After weeks of this I went to the doctor and described my menagerie of symptoms, feeling like a hypochondriac, and asked to be put on medical leave. My doctor gave me a note for a week off of work. At the end of the week I felt the same and asked again to be put on med leave. My CBC panel (complete blood count), anemia test, & thyroid test all came back normal (I take daily thyroid medicine). Doctor said I didn't have anything to justify med leave; but said she would put me on stress leave. I felt "stress leave" was dismissive of my physical symptoms, so I filled out the SDI paperwork for "chronic fatigue/pain".

Yesterday morning the explanation of my blight came in the form of a phone call from my doctor letting me know my blood test for Mono was positive. I was told this explained my chronic fatigue & pain and that I was to rest & keep hydrated. I asked when I'd feel better and get my life back and was told the symptoms could last 3- 6 months but it could be a full year before I felt normal again. Since onset was unknown, a year from onset was also unknown. These succinct answers were not enough to quell my curiosity, so I turned to google. I found lots of scientific info about Mononucleosis, that its caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, how its transmitted, and what it does to the body; but I found very little in the way of personal accounts. Parents had written what it was like to care for a child with Mono, but I couldn't find accounts from those who'd had it in adulthood.

Today is St. Paddy's Day 2012.... I've spent the day feeling feverish and typing this post inbetween naps and cups of tea.