Thursday, April 09, 2009

Confessions of a Mom with Mono

Mono is a funny sounding name for a virus that I've done very little research on. I'm not sure if I'm a) scared to find out what I'd read or b) would feel helpless once I did know more or c) just too tired to read online for that long. For whatever reason, I'm not well read up on the topic.

But, I have lived, breathed, slept and sweated a mono-type virus for the past 3 weeks so I think that's why I'm self certifying myself to write these Confessions.

Mono attacks the immune system (I do know that) but how and why, is unknown to most (if not all) people. I have never been in contact with someone who has a virus like mine nor do I randomly drink out of random cups of random people's drinks when I'm randomly in public. I don't even drink out of public drinking fountains, for that matter. Mono is typically spread through saliva so you tell me how I got mono if I haven't been kissing random people or drinking out of random cups.

Mono has a constant fever pattern that is physically draining although the pattern is inconsistent. Some days I wake up sick; other days I wake up well for a couple hours. Some days my fever is only 99; other days I have a hard time keeping it away from 102. Coupled with that is extreme fatigue, a pounding head ache, frequent dizziness and growing physical weakness that seems to get worse every day.

Opening the fridge takes effort. Screwing lids into place is hard. Locking doors is a strain. Rolling over in bed is a huge job. Walking hurts, even slowly. Talking is draining -- my voice takes muscles I don't have. I feel so weak.

Little accomplishments are noticed though -- like tonight I made mac and cheese for supper and felt like the world's best gourmet cook. And I did it all while the ibuprofen I took 8 hours before was wearing off. I even washed the pans. But, even though it seems like success, that's physically exhausting to the point of it not being worth it. I pretty much just have to go to bed after that.

Mono also attacks your brain (I do know that from personal experience). Everything is a big deal and either leaves a Mom with Mono in tears or slumped in a dark hole of depression or both. Like at night when my husband puts the kids to bed, as soon as everyone walks out of the room, I burst into tears mourning the passing of another day in my kid's life that I didn't make any worthy investment in. The guilt. The fear. The sadness. The loneliness for a fun family night. It's a heavy load. And the brain power it takes to process these feelings has completely deserted me.

Spiraling into a whirlwind of what I'm sure are pointless fears, I find myself growing steadily lower. And then I start worrying about things like if I'm pregnant or not and finally after worrying about it for 2 days, I breathlessly take a test. I've never prayed so hard that the double lines would not appear. Shoving the memory of the frequent 102 fevers into the back of my head, I wait anxiously, telling God, "No baby should have to go through this! No baby should have to go through this!" I have never been so relieved after finding a negative test result. That to me was actually a little confirmation that God is still good and does know what's best for me. And for my children.

Rain or shine, the weather doesn't really effect a Mom with Mono. It's all alike to her. It all seems grey and gloomy. Although sunshine does feel good on a warm day, the brightness of the sun and the blue sky seem insignificant to the dark day it feels inside a Mom with Mono: if you can't enjoy it with your family, what's the point?

Resting and drinking fluids are easy to do for mono victims. I am so thirsty and so tired and could drink all the time and sleep forever. Of course you can't rest much when you drink a lot so the balance is usually soon found when dealing with mono.

And then come the aches and pains of laying in bed for so many hours out of a day. It feels like slats or springs or hard object are protruding from my pillow-top mattress and needles are sticking in my feet. So angling my legs in a different direction, I find temporary relief only to learn a little later that both feet are sleeping. If I google mono-type viruses, I'll find out if bad circulation goes with the virus. Otherwise, I see now how people get bed sores from being in bed for long periods of time.

It may be recommended to exercise which is something that would feel good to do in this warm, spring air. Yet even when I feel like doing it, and then do it, I spike a fever and suffer for several days, slowly getting back to the point I was before I exerted myself. Rest and relaxation are all a person with mono can do... poor circulation or not.

And finally, remembering that even though I may be helpless to care for myself, helpless to care for my children and helpless to care for my husband, God is not helpless to care for me AND all I care about. I confess thankfully that I am finding moment-by-moment comfort in that.

Disclaimer: I do know that I do NOT have the Epstein Barr Virus Mono and there is a bit of a difference between that and what the doctor diagnosed me with: a Mono-type virus. From what I understand, my spleen is not effected like it would be with the "main" mono virus which is caused by the Epstein Barr Virus.


Kate said...

I have had mono four times and now have an ever-present strain of the virus in my blood at all times - leading to this wonderfully vauge diagnosis of "chronic fatigue syndrome." I do know that you MUST give yourself time to recover. Get a family member or friend over and sleep, sleep, sleep. Even if this isn't the epstein-barr variety, I know you're more suceptible to bouts later if you don't care for yourself now! I know that will be hard for a busy mom, but try! I'll pray for you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Aww...poor Courtney!Sorry to hear you'r so under the weather,hope you get well soon:)Praying for you!!!

Ryan said...

Hoping you are feeling a lot better now! Thanks for the comfort that someone knows what I am going through, as a Mom with Mono.