I’m going to tell you a little story, today.
It’s the equivalent, I suppose, of trying to entertain you with a rousing story about having gout, or a lengthy description of passing a kidney stone, but as a public service, I will tell you.
It was bizarre experience — but beware, it could happen to you or someone you know.
When it was me? It would have been really nice to have a heads up. So here you go.
A year ago, I experienced a series of weird symptoms that knocked me flat, and still plague me from time-to-time.
It all started with the Royals World Series parade, when my family traipsed downtown to watch the victory celebration. We were lucky, scoring spots right by the ropes. We walked a modest distance, stood for maybe two hours, and then got out easily, and were sitting in a restaurant with food and drinks in time to watch the rally on the restaurant’s TVs. We did the parade like rock stars.
But by the time we got home, my body ached like I’d walked miles, not mere blocks, on hard pavement. My legs, my back, my knees, everywhere. I vowed to get in better shape.
Over the next few days, more symptoms occurred. I awoke one morning with my face completely swollen. Another day, I found myself covered in hives. And the aching recurred at various times.
It was a couple days later that the aching truly took form.
I woke up with my thumb in pain, wondering if I’d be able to type. By the time I got to work, my thumb was fine, but my knee throbbed. When my coworkers and I took a short walk to a restaurant, my ankles began to hurt so badly I almost asked them to get a car to take me the two blocks back to work. That evening, I drove my kids from place to place, spending my down time sitting in the driver’s seat, in too much pain to climb the two steps into my home.
I know what you’re thinking, that I was suffering from hypochondria or perhaps Munchausen’s syndrome. I was afraid the doctor might think the same.
The next day, I was able to see the doctor.
“It could be MS, or rheumatoid arthritis, or maybe fibromyalgia,” the doctor said. I quietly panicked. She ordered blood tests, which they couldn’t even get me in for for over a week.
The next day, I emailed my boss and coworkers, explaining my situation.
Within minutes, they emailed me a diagnosis that turned out to be correct. I had “fifth disease” — named because it’s the fifth most-common childhood virus, characterized mostly by a butterfly rash on a child’s face and sometimes a fever.
But in adults, it’s quite a bear.
The kids’ school nurse confirmed that it was going around, and soon my daughter developed the rash. I called the doctor, and they said, “Yeah, that’s probably it.”
I was told it would probably pass in a couple weeks, but could take months, and I’ve found plenty of message boards — mostly on arthritis websites — saying it could take years to fully resolve.
So, my friends, that is the saga of an adult getting what’s a harmless to kids, (but dangerous to pregnant women!) disease. Like chickenpox, it is much worse than one might expect for a younger patient. It can last a while, but eventually goes away.
So if you know someone, be a bearer of good news, like my boss was that day. Tell them to float it past their doctor — save them some sleepless worrying!
Reach Overland Park mom Emily Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@emilyJparnell.