During my college years, my body somehow learned to sleep better, not great, but better. I don’t know how or why, but I am grateful for it. I don’t think I could have survived college without proper sleep. My college years were similar to my high school years in that I was involved in lot of different activites. Music groups, opera theater productions, social events, basketball, cheer-leading, sorority officer, etc… I am somewhat shy, so I don’t have this big booming personality, but I think I do have the type A drive. I was definitely a perfectionist in certain areas, but not every area. (Just ask my mom what my room looked like as a teenager. It wasn’t pretty!)
The first semester of my senior year (1995) was packed FULL of stress. It was generally good stress, but I had so much going on in my life. It was my heaviest academic load and I had the leading role in the college’s opera production. Tony and I got engaged and started planning a wedding. I was singing in several different music groups and rehearsing all the time. I was stretched to my limits. This was a very HAPPY time for me, but I was pushing beyond the boundaries of my physical limitations. As the semester ended, I was greatly looking forward to the long Christmas break for some time of rest and relaxation.
The next to last day of the semester, I was at a Christmas Banquet with my fiance, Tony, and I remember feeling “off”. I wasn’t hungry, a little nauseous, and I didn’t eat anything at the banquet. I just felt ill and thought maybe I was coming down with something. This feeling never went away. Over Christmas break, I was exhausted all the time in spite of sleeping all day and I was constantly nauseous. I hardly ate anything and this continued for several weeks. I lost 30 pounds in a six week period. It was very noticeable. I just didn’t want to eat. I was in bed ALL day, everyday. I finally went to see the doctor. He asked all the depression screening questions. I knew where he was going with this. I know it was his job to ask these questions, but I already knew that depression was not the cause of my illness and it irritated me that he wasn’t believing me. I had seen and lived with family members that were depressed. My parents are counselors and know the symptoms of depression. I knew what depression was on paper and this wasn’t it. At the end of the visit, my doctor did a mono spot test. It came back positive. Well, there you go. I had mono. It was kind of a relief. At least I wasn’t dying of some kind of cancer or disease. Easy explanation and hopefully some quick healing.
The next day, my doctor called me and said that even though the mono spot came back positive that the blood tests at the lab revealed that I DID NOT have the Epstein Barr virus so it was impossible that I had mono . It was a false positive and said my symptoms were probably caused by depression and prescribed antidepressants. I really don’t have words to describe the feelings I had during that phone conversation. You think I am depressed? What? Antidepressants? I was angry and overwhelmed with fear. I knew it wasn’t depression and now he tells me it isn’t mono. Then what the heck is it? and am I dying from it? I was scared and at this point, VERY sick.
The spring semester started and was my last semester before graduation in May and our June wedding. I told everyone I had mono. This explained the rapid weight loss and the missing classes all the time. I didn’t know if I had it or not, but I didn’t have any other explanation and I fit the mono profile and I had a positive mono spot test. This was my story. I didn’t have another one. I was determined to finish college in spite of how awful I felt. I only had 12 credits left and I decided to live at home for that semester so my mom could take care of me. I was bed ridden. I could hardly walk. I was so weak. I passed out once because I hadn’t eaten in three days. I was beyond exhausted all the time, but had trouble sleeping. I had headaches, no appetite, constantly nauseous, pale, dizzy, muscle aches like the flu, muscle weakness, painful lymph nodes, sore throat, restless legs, anxiety, profound exhaustion, and the inability to get restful sleep. If I wasn’t in class , I was in the bed. I HAD to be in bed, but I was determined to finish school and not postpone the wedding. I could do this. It was so difficult and I missed a lot of classes, but I made it through. By God’s grace and a lot of praying, I finished that semester AND planned a wedding. I made it to college graduation, but I wasn’t feeling any better. How was I going to get through the wedding feeling like this?