Mononucleosis, or Mono, is also widely known as “the kissing disease” for the simple fact that it is mainly spread through the saliva. It’s a viral illness and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics like a bacterial infection. The only cure for mono is some good old-fashioned rest and lots of fluids.
After learning from my doctor that my blood test came back positive for the mono virus, I felt defeated. Not just from the physical exhaustion this illness had havocked on my body, but I was mentally wiped.
I remember my mom hanging up the phone with my doctor and summarizing the diagnosis to me. Unexpectedly, I began to cry.
It was a combination of finally knowing how sick I really was and feeling sorry for myself because of how much work I would miss and how this would affect me long term. I felt silly for crying, but it was the reality of the situation.
Thankfully, I have some of the best parents in the world so I stayed with them and my little brother at home where my mom spent the good part of a week taking care of me.
And since there was no magical pill I could take to get better, my days were filled with cups of tea with lemon and agave (sorry I’m vegan, save the bees), cough drops, salt water gargles and a special gargle my doctor prescribed that basically numbed my entire mouth and throat so I could get food down. Sounds like lots of fun, huh?
The worst of the sickness was over in about 3 or 4 days. My pounding headaches subsided with the help of ibuprofen, my sinuses began to drain (unfortunately it was so much sometimes that it caused me to gag and vomit on a few occasions) and the physical pain in my throat slowly went away.
I will never forget how absolutely weak my body felt. If you, or anyone you know has ever had mono, I’m sure this point is relatable. It’s the weakest I’ve ever felt in my life. I could barely get out of bed to even go to the bathroom and I remember the extreme strength I had to muster to even get a cup to my lips the first few days.
Some of the things I learned about my illness from googling and researching while I spent days on end in a stationary position is that the only way to be officially diagnosed with mono is through a blood test. Your doctor uses the sample to see if there are certain types of white blood cell in your system that attempts to kill off the virus. And much like chicken pox, most people only get infected with mono once in their lifetime.
The only tricky part is that contrary to chicken pox, although you only get it once, the mono virus lives in your body for the rest of your life. For most of the time, the cells will stay dormant. But in times of intense stress and strain on your immune system, it can resurface and you can have a “flare-up”, which unfortunately happened to me.
Stay tuned to see how mono affects me today…
Or read Part 1 here if you missed it
The Mono Chronicles, Part 1: The Infection
Thanks for reading!