I Got Sick

Posted Sat 25 January 2014 14:26 under category personal

As I alluded in my last post, I've had a fair bit of extra time on my hands for the last couple of weeks. That's because I've been quite ill. This post is the exciting story of what I've been sick with.

Starting in the evening of Friday, 2014-01-10, I had body aches and a fever. Now, at first, I didn't even know if anything was wrong — I'd slept poorly the night before, and maybe I was just feeling poorly because E was going back to school. Unfortunately, when I woke up on Saturday, 2014-01-11, the fever was worse, so I stayed in bed all day. I did't feel too terrible (I went to the grocery store and did my regular errands on Sunday, and even went to work on Monday), but I knew I was sick. I just hoped it was a cold or something else minor that would go away by itself. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, the fever was high enough that I knew I wouldn't be productive, so I had to stay out of work. Wednesday continued the high fever and brought intermittent sore throat (only on the left side, though, which was weird), which was enough for me to decide to go to the doctor.

Of course, like so many irresponsible young people in my age cohort, I didn't actually have a doctor. So I decided to sign up with One Medical Group, which is a pretty cool concept. For a nominal yearly fee, you get not only a doctor, but the ability to make same-day appointments to see any doctor in their network. A $15 copay and the ability to be seen by a GP-type doctor definitely beats having to go to the ER for minor illnesses, right? So, Wednesday night, I took an Uber out to Pac Heights and met with Dr. Ciccarone. He looked at me, looked at my throat, and told me that my left tonsil looked like a textbook picture of strep throat. Then he did a RADT, which was negative for strep. Hm. I guess he had some kind of hunch, because he poked me on both sides of my belly and asked me which one hurt more. Apparently, I answered the side that my spleen is on, and a sensitive spleen is diagnostically relevant for things that aren't strep throat. He still took a full strep culture, though. Then he told me to keep taking ibuprofen and report to the phlebotomist the next day to get blood drawn.

The next day (Thursday), I woke up feeling even more miserable (temperature hovering around 102°F / 39°C), took some more ibuprofen, and went to a different One Medical Group office to get my blood taken... which was quite painless.

Epstein-Barr Virus1

Friday, a different doctor called me to tell me that the blood tests were positive for Epstein-Barr Virus, which causes a disease known as mono. Symptoms of mono include fever, sore throat, and fatigue. And, as a virus, there's next to nothing you can do about it except wait it out. So, over the weekend, I waited it out, while the fever and sore throat got worse. By Monday, I couldn't swallow solid food at all, and even liquids were challenging.

beta-hemolytic strep2

Fast forward to Tuesday, 2014-01-21. I got another message from the doctor — apparently, the throat culture that Dr. Ciccarone had done last Wednesday came back for "β-hemolytic Streptococcus, not group A isolated", which is apparently a somewhat uncommon variant of strep, the symptoms of which include fever, sore throat, and fatigue.

Yep. I got both mono and strep. Which probably helps explain why I've been so miserable lately. The doctor prescribed Cefuroxime to wipe out the strep, and continuing rest for the mono.

Finally, after a frankly miserable two weeks in total, the fever finally broke on Friday, 2014-01-24, just in time for my coworkers to send me a care package containing delicious Wise Sons challah.

As of this posting, I have no idea how long it'll take for the rest of my symptoms to go away, but I'm just glad that the fever's gone and the sore throat has eased up enough that I can start eating actual food again and contemplate doing actual work.

  1. (2005) Virus Proteins Prevent Cell Suicide Long Enough to Establish Latent Infection. PLoS Biol 3(12): e430 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030430; Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 

  2. (1979) Photomicrograph of Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, 900x magnification from the CDC. Public Health Image Library ID#2110; Public Domain