Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's STILL Mono!

I have turned into the biggest couch potato in the history of couches. And potatoes.

I have not left my house in over a week. (Actually, I tried to go to work last Thursday and was promptly driven home by co-workers). I have not done a single plank or lifted a single weight. I have not run a single step. The only walking I have been doing is from the couch to the bathroom to the bed to the fridge and back to the couch. And yet my appetite is completely intact, complete with cravings for foods that will do nothing to advance my recovery- particularly chocolate and ice cream.

A lot of people have been asking me if it's contagious. The answer is that Mono is spread through saliva, so you won't catch it unless you kiss someone with it or share food with them. Greg still does not have it and I really hope he doesn't get it. I have no clue how I got it because I don't know anyone with it. All I can think of is that I must have eaten food somewhere that someone coughed directly on. Ew. And then there are some people who come right up to me and hug me without thinking twice about if it's contagious!

I think my experience with Mono has been somewhat unique. It's gone through distinct phases, which I will outline for your reading pleasure.

Phase I: Textbook Mono (but I didn't know it)
This phase lasted for about two weeks: June 18-30. My main symptoms were a severe sore throat and swelling of the lymph notes. This was the worst sore throat I've had in my entire life, and I am really glad it seems to have gone for good. I went to the doctor and all of my tests were negative, including the mono spot test, so I figured it was just some nasty virus. I wrote extensively about this phase in my June 25 post

Phase II: The Glory Days
This phase lasted for about two and a half weeks (July 1-18). I thought I was 98% better. In fact, the only reason I knew I wasn't at 100% was that my runs were still extremely slow. But they felt good, so I wasn't really worried. I even ran a 13-miler one weekend, and then a 14-miler the following weekend. The 14 miler was a 9:24 pace, all in zone 2, so I figured that I must be getting back to 100%. But then the trip to Chicago really did me in and all my symptoms returned on July 19. I really think that if I hadn't gone to Chicago, I would have made a complete recovery within the next week!

Phase III: Ups and Downs
I returned to the doctor and got the Mono diagnosis. They said I was in the "convalescent" (recovering) stage, so I figured it shouldn't be too long before I was truly 100%. Greg and I thought "wouldn't it be great if this relapse just lasted a few days and then I went right back to where I was before the relapse!" I kind of told myself that's what would happen, so after taking just three days off of running, I made another attempt. I felt decent for three miles, but then when I turned around to come home, the last three miles felt tough. During the day, I felt off and on. I would feel great in the mornings, but when the afternoon hit, I would feel completely zonked, like I had to go to sleep instantly. I could barely hold my head up at work and had to leave early twice to go to sleep. 

Greg and I took our planned mini-vacation to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Toronto, which I knew would be an immune system buster. I felt great for parts of the trip, but not so good for others. I had plenty of energy for walking around Niagara falls, going bowling, and even some easy treadmill running. But I also would get tired very easily and took naps. This "ups and downs" phase lasted for nearly two weeks (July 20-31).

Phase IV: Lack of Energy, Strength and Balance
Zebras keep  me company in bed while I recover.
This is the phase I am currently in, and have been so for just over a week. The couch potato phase. When I am sitting down or laying down, I feel good. No sore throat (just an occasional cough) and relatively normal feeling. However, getting up and trying to walk around the house just feels completely off. I actually fell down while trying to do the laundry (and have since ceased trying to do any house work). I saw black spots in the shower. I am not sleepy or exhausted feeling like I was in Phase III. I am definitely more tired than I am when I'm healthy, but the tiredness is secondary to feeling completely spacey and off balance when I walk around. 

Also, I was able to do planks and other light strength training in the earlier phases. Now, I cannot do anything that is physically taxing. I feel too weak and spacey for that. I've been working from home for the past week and feeling alert while doing so, just as long as I stay seated. I get occasional dizzy spells, where I cannot look at the computer. I have an appointment with my sports medicine doctor on Tuesday. I am going to ask for more blood tests to see if my levels indicate that I am getting better. 

My biggest fear is that this is turning into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I've learned from Dr. Google that this can develop if you don't recover fully from mono. This lasts six months to a year. Whenever I have started to feel the slightest bit normal, I have tried going to work and running. And I've taken two trips. Obviously these were not smart choices but a) I didn't know I had mono for a lot of the time and b) I didn't really have a choice about the Chicago trip. There's no real test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you just get that diagnosis once everything else is ruled out.

I would just really like for this whole thing to be over and done with.


  1. Yuck!! I really hope you're feeling like yourself soon, and please stay away from Dr. Google, I hear he didn't even graduate from a real medical school ;)

    Anything I can do to help you pass the time? I can recommend (and even share if you have a kindle!) terribly easy to read books [that I read while writing my grant when I didn't have the mental stamina to read anything more energy-demanding] and trashy TV shows (if you wanna watch gossip girl... I have it all. Shh, I really am smart, I promise, it's just...I have a thing for trashy TV. Esp when I'm sick!)...

    Have they done blood work to see how you're progressing/can they do that? I've been outta med school too long to remember what that would entail [though I distinctly remember it being *tested* on step 1, don't remember the answer so well...].

    I hope the next few days/weeks go by very quickly and you're back to you ASAP.

  2. Agree - Dr. Google's not very good.

    I have nothing except sympathy, alas.

  3. Thanks so much for your kind words about my dog bite! I'm almost all better now. I really hope the after-effects of your illness go away soon. You seem to be taking a wise course in not pushing yourself now...the roads will still be there in the fall, right? Take care, rest!

  4. Dr. Google is the worst; he's a quack. I've been there. Is there a type of specialist physician that you can see about mono? Maybe s/he can give you a good plan for recovery?

    I hope you feel better soon!