“So, you have mono.”
The ER doctor’s words caught me completely off guard as my mind rushed to process the news. The “kissing disease?” But I’m almost 30. Isn’t that for high school or college kids? I mean, I knew I wasn’t feeling well. But really? Mono?!
The Onset of Symptoms
On June 29th, 2019 I announced on my Instagram that one of my friends from college had died in an unexpected and horrific plane crash. I mentioned that “Grief drains cortisol. And it sneaks up on you.“
I ended up spending about five hours in the emergency room later that night. I could not keep ahead of everything and my body screamed, “ENOUGH.” That entire night I kept thinking to myself, “My neck hurts. This is odd.” I chalked it up to stress and wrote it off.
A day later, I noticed white puss on my right tonsil. Some of my blood work on the 29th hinted at an underlying infection. I gave myself permission to remain on elevated cortisol levels as my body was obviously fighting some thing. I told myself I would carefully monitor my symptoms and seek help if they seemed to escalate.
More Swollen Tonsils
For the past two weeks, I have been monitoring that tonsil while popping throat lozenges like candy (side note: these are my absolute favorite). One white puss spot turned into two, which turned into multiple. This was not good.
On Saturday, July 13th 2019, I made the decision to go to a walk in clinic. By this point, I had been symptomatic for fourteen days. Also, I was set to fly to Chicago today (Sunday, July 14th) to speak at a conference about living that Clearly Alive life. I did not want to risk another ambulance on the tarmac adventure and was proud of myself for being “pro-active.”
The PA ran a strep test (negative) and decided to give me a shot of antibiotics, a shot of solu-medrol, and a five day z-pack. He was unsure if it was a potential sinus infection turned into angry tonsils or just angry tonsils, but he was confident that this cocktail of medicine would get me feeling better immediately. This all happened before 10am and I was sent on my merry way.
The solu-medrol shot did initially leave me feeling better. I even decided to treat myself to a manicure in preparation for my Tuesday afternoon speaking session. I was going to rock light blue for Addison’s Disease awareness.
The Shot Only Lasts Six Hours.
I still had to finish packing for Chicago. Around 6pm, I went upstairs. I had all my clothes already packed, I just needed to throw together my toiletry bag. Next thing I knew, it was after 8:00pm and I was still lying on my bed surrounded by my two cats. I had not packed, and I was not feeling well.
My flight was set to leave at 3pm the next day. I figured the best thing to do was call it an early night and try to do a “reset” on my body. I increased my basal levels on my cortisol pump, took all of my night meds, took a zofran, and texted a few key people (including my mom) letting them know that I was not doing well.
Around 10:30pm, I woke up with excruciating neck pain. I also realized that I was doing worse, not better. I needed my solu-cortef injection. But there was a problem. All of my solu-cortef was downstairs. I was upstairs. I was trapped.
Figure out a Plan, Amber.
The first thing I did was call my local ER to see how busy they were. If they weren’t that busy, I would drive myself there. She told me she was not allowed to divulge that information and that if I needed to go in, then I needed to go in. But she did say there were multiple people in the waiting room that had yet to be triaged.
After I hung up the phone, I started crying. I did not have the strength to spend three hours in a waiting room without an advocate. Think Amber. Think.
I tried texting my neighbor to see if she could could bring my emergency injection up. I knew that could potential buy me time.
At 11:15pm, I decided to crawl downstairs and get my medicine. I made it as far as my hallway before the dry heaving started. I immediately dialed 911. My situation was getting worse.
“911. What is your emergency?”
The first dispatch lady had a hard time understanding my address. I was still actively dry heaving and begging for an ambulance as soon as possible. She transferred me to the ambulance dispatch. I was short with the ambulance dispatch, but I did not care.
“Miss, can you explain to me what is going on?”
“Addison’s Disease. Adrenal Crisis. Request ambulance transport to local emergency room.”
“Are you in pain?”
*dry heaving* “Yes!”
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand what Addison’s Crisis is. Can you explain it to me?”
“No. F**** google it if you want to know.” *continues to dry heave*
“Can you explain your symptoms?”
“No. No strength. Send ambulance. Door is locked, but I have garage key pad code. Code is *****. Have two cats. Cannot lock them up. Send help fast.”
“They’re on their way. Call us back if anything changes. Good-bye.”
I got a slight chuckle when she hung up on me. The better dispatch people will remain on the line with me until help arrives. She legitimately hung up on me. But I had no strength to sit there and explain myself to someone on the other end of the phone as I was convulsing on the floor attempting to not throw up.
The Paramedics Arrive
One of the best modifications that we have made to my home is the installation of a keypad garage door opener. I actually own this one. This gives me the ability to let the paramedics into my home at any time without them breaking down my front door. Without it, I would have already had to replace my front door at least four or five times. I love the sound of the garage door opening. That means help has arrived.
I also had a repeat EMT. She told me as soon as she pulled up, she recognized the address. They asked what I did for a living and I told them I was a professional engineer. But that I was actually supposed to get on a flight in a few hours to speak at a conference about how I’m Clearly Alive, which was ironic at the moment considering I needed help walking and I could not see anything around me.
I pleaded with them to start IV fluids in the ambulance because I did not have the strength to wait 2-3 hours before starting any form of treatment. The repeat EMT was like, “She even has really good veins!”
Five sticks. Five separate sticks, y’all. Both EMT’s were shocked as they attempted to stab me simultaneously. While one was digging around in my left arm, the other decided to go for my right hand. Ironically, they both succeeded at the same time. Apparently, I was dehydrated.
No Wait. No Triage.
My timing of vomiting was impeccable. I had been dry heaving for a solid hour, but it had been fruitless. It wasn’t until I actually arrived at the ER that the vomiting started. And then continued. As for ER perks, number one would be the heated blankets. The number two perk is the blue bags for vomiting.
They immediately took me back to a room. The ER doctor ordered 125 mg of solu-medrol and another two liters of fluid. The nurse was thankful for the two lines. I had a liter flowing through one arm, and another liter flowing through the other hand.
Upon consult with the doctor, I informed him how I had already been at a walk-in clinic that morning and had an active script for a z-pack. But I knew to come in when the vomiting had started. He asked me if I had any aches and pains and I told him yes! My neck has been killing me! He found that odd and said he wanted to run some additional blood work.
So, you have mono.
I am so thankful the ER doctor had the wisdom to screen me for mono. He said the combination of the swollen tonsils and the unexplained neck pain led him to run that one additional blood test which led to the unexpected result. It takes a while for the virus to incubate, so it could have been a kiss. Perhaps it was a drink I had shared with someone. Maybe it was a fork or knife. Who knows? It is actually a really common virus that effects everyone differently.
What we do know is this is not something I can just “push through.” I need to rest and scale back from everything.
I was released from the ER around 4am. Before this mono diagnosis, I figured I would rest for a day and catch a plane ride to Chicago on Monday. After all, my session wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon.
But the ER told me no traveling.
To those attending the Magic Conference this week, do not worry. There will still be someone from the Clearly Alive family sharing my message. My mom was already planning on attending the conference to support me. Neither of us could have guessed that her way of supporting me would be physically filling in for me.
But my journey is also her journey. My message is also her message.
Although I am disappointed that I am not at the conference right now, I know I made the right decision. For those of y’all at the conference, you are in for a real treat. I cannot wait for you to listen to my mom’s session.
Let us live that Clearly Alive life. It is a life worth living.
Dear Readers, do any of y’all have experience with Adrenal Insufficiency + Mono? I honestly have no idea what to expect in terms of this virus and my steroid dosing. I would love to hear from you!