My Bout with HCMVA Story by The Golden Pen
My bout with cytemeglavirus in 1994
CMV stands for Cytomegalovirus virus, a virus that causes enlargement of epithelial cells. The virus is a mild form of the herpes virus which is transferred by saliva or bodily contact. The symptoms are similar to that of hepatitis or mononucleosis. Some people do not display any symptom whatsoever; but those with a compromised immune system, the symptoms can be serious. I do not know how, in God’s name, I came across this virus since:
· I have never had any blood transfusions
· I had never been sexually active
· I never shared any of my make-up or cups with anyone
· I am a very clean person
· I never ventured outside on my own except to and from work.
I suspect that I may have contacted the disease at work. I worked at the children’s department at the West New York Public Library. There was a public fountain in the main reading room and I often drank from it. I also conducted pre-school Story Time at the library and worked with many preschool children at the time.
I had an incredible fatigue that drained me of all energy. I slept seven hours a night but when I woke up to go to the bathroom I couldn’t move my body; I felt so exhausted that I had to go back to sleep. I never felt so tired and fatigued in my life. I had swollen glands, a sore throat, a fever, bodily aches and pains and a rash all over my body.
The following is a journal that I kept depicting this illness from January 1994 till April 1994 when I was thirty-one. I started this journal on the 26th of August, 1991. It is a small paper journal. I decided to recount the story of my illness because the ink in the journal is slowly fading away and I want to preserve the memories of this most trying time in my life.
Thursday, January 27 1994:
I have been sick since last week. I’ve had a severe rash all over my body, a sore throat and a fever of 102ᴼF for seven consecutive days. I have missed three days of work last week; and this week I don’t have work because they are installing rugs at the library.
Mum took me to see Dr Nunez, a general practitioner who had an office a few blocks down our street. Dr Nunez thought I had allergies. He gave me a shot of Benadryl and told me to take Tylenol tablets. A few nights later my fever returned and Mum phoned Doctor Nunez again. Mum was fed up with Dr Nunez’s nonsense and took me to see Dr Gastell, another general practitioner in the neighbouring town of Union City. It turns out, according to Dr Gastell, that I have tonsillitis, bronchitis, and allergies. He prescribed a whole bag of medications and promised I would feel better in two to three days.
¥Monday, February 7, 1994
I still have this illness"a constant cough, an agonizing rash, a fever of 104ᴼF, and a throbbing sore throat. I went to the doctor’s again on Friday. He said I was better, but that I had bronchial asthma. He gave me another round of medication. He said he’ll have to take a chest x-ray if I didn’t get any better. Today the West New York Public Library was again open to the public after being closed a week. The new carpets look lovely. They are a deeper shade of blue.
¥ Thursday, February 24, 1994
This winter was the winter of many snows. Since December we’ve gotten many snowstorms with blizzards and accumulations of about a foot of snow in places. Yesterday was the thirteenth snowstorm of the week. The library closed at 3:00 P.M. I stammered into work for a couple of days, even if I felt awful. I couldn’t miss too many days; my sick days are almost depleted. But today I just couldn’t make it in. It was raining heavily and bitterly cold. I feel so exhausted.....so fatigued. I don’t know what’s happening to me. Why do I feel so sick?
¥Monday, March 7th, 1994 (My 31st Birthday)
I had a quiet 31st Birthday. I had the day off from work. John gave me a CD player with five CD capabilities. He also gave me a beautiful Precious Moments figurine. Mum gave me a beautiful aquamarine ring. John had to work. He works as a cameraman for Univision. Mum, John and I went to eat lunch at Mum’s Pancake House in the neighbouring town of Union City. I didn’t feel too well on my birthday. I had diarrhoea, a headache, and cough. Overall, I had a nice birthday.
¥Wednesday, March 16, 1994
I am here at Meadowland Hospital. I was admitted here because on Thursday, March 9th, Jane and the girls at work were concerned about me. Jane took a look at me and said that my eyes were yellow. She told me about jaundice and I didn’t know who Jaundice was. Jane persuaded me to see a doctor. She said she had a friend who had jaundice and it turned out she had glandular fever. “It is serious, Mary...you should go see a doctor.” I didn’t believe her. After work Mum came as usual to pick me up from work. “Mum....Jane said my eyes are yellow and suggested I go see a doctor.” My Mum took one look at the whites of my eye and the yellow tinge on my complexion and ran with me all the way to see Dr Augustine Diaz, a new doctor who lived two blocks away from us. I’ve never seen my mother run so fast in my life.
Dr Augustine Diaz examined me. He suspected I had hepatitis. He asked me if I was sexually active but I wasn’t. I was not allowed to date anyone; not with my over-protective parents. He ordered me to stop all my previous medications. He vaccinated my parents and my brother against Hepatitis. On and around the 11th of March, I got worse. I was shaking with fever, my glands were swollen, my urine was a dark yellow and my stools were a mousy colour. The rash covered my entire body. My entire body ached. Dr Diaz hospitalized me. So here I am at the Meadowland Hospital on my back. Dr Diaz came to see me and asked once again if I had any sexual contact with anyone. Again I shook my head and told him I was a virgin. He didn’t ask me again. He ordered a CAT scan and lots of blood tests. The phlebotomists all came around like hungry blood-sucking nosferati looking for blood every five hours. There came a time when I bared my arms to them like a willing victim and said, “Come for more blood!?”
¥ Friday, March 17, 1994
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. The ward was decorated with green Leprechauns and shamrocks. In the evening I was taken to have my CAT scan. The technician made me drink this horrid liquid that tasted like sulphur. Oh, it was vile! I couldn’t drink it but the technician told me I must. I was brave and reluctantly gulped it down my throat. Next I was laid on a bed and told to hold my breath for a minute while I was fed through this tube. The whole procedure lasted half an hour. Then I was taken back to my room for the evening. But as I was about to fall asleep, the phlebotomist came in with her vials to take another series of blood samples from me , I have never given so much blood before. I didn’t think I had so much blood left in me.
¥ Saturday, March 18, 1994
I slept well yesterday. My fever broke. The rash on my body subsided. My stomach-ache went away. The orderly took me to have my chest x-ray and to my sonogram. The technician applied this cold gel on my belly. It felt weird and cold. I saw my liver on the monitor. It was weird. It looked like an octopus. At times it looked like a foetus or a little bunny. Dr Diaz came by my room and studied my chart. He was delighted with my progress. My parents’ friends, the Fontaina family, sent me a beautiful bouquet to flowers.
¥ Saturday, March 19, 1994
Dr Diaz said I had CMV, a virus that attacks the cells and causes mononucleosis’ like symptoms. He said that I should be going home either on Saturday or Monday. I’m about to get my period. I’m so achy. The phlebotomist walks into the room and fills four more vials with blood. My arms feel like an addict’s arm, full of bruises. I looked up the disease in the dictionary:
(Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Microbiology) viruses of the herpes virus family that may cause serious disease in patients whose immune systems are compromised Abbreviation CMV
¥ Sunday, March 20, 1994
They might discharge me today. If not, then the following day. The hospital has a policy of discharging people after 1 O’clock in the afternoon. I’ll have to phone my parents to let them know when they’ll discharge me so they can come and get me.
I’m starving"where’s my breakfast? My appetite has returned"that’s a good sign. The doctor came over to see me and was pleased with the prognosis. He ordered more blood work done for this afternoon. Spring came today at 3:35 P.M. My parents and brother came to visit. Wrestle mania was on the television. We sat and watched it. There was this crazy man next door to my room who smoked. My brother complained to management and they transferred me to another room.
¥ Monday, March 21st 1994
Dr Diaz discharged me today. He said I should be back to normal in a couple of weeks. He prescribed some steroid medication for a week and told me to get enough rest. He asked me to make an appointment with him this coming Friday to see how I was getting on. He was pleased with my analysis. I plan to watch the Academy Awards tonight at nine O’clock on channel 7.
¥ Monday, 28 March, 1994
Dr Diaz said I had CMV, cytomegalovirus (CITA/MEG/LOV/IRUS) He told me that the virus will remain dormant in my system for life. I shouldn’t worry about it reactivating, but I can’t donate my organs. Dr Diaz said he wanted to take more blood from me next week. Last Friday I went out with my brother, John, his best friend Bernie Garcia and his sister, Tina. We went to Red Lobster. I had a cup of New England clam chowder and had a sirloin steak and fries.
¥ Friday April 1st 1994
Today is Good Friday. It is also April fool’s Day. Vanessa, my cousin, phoned me at 8:00 A.M. She is crazy for me to come over. She lives in Hialeah with her Mum, Dad and Sister Jeannette. I told her I had booked my vacation to coincide with her birthday and she went wild. Her sister, Jeannette fought with her because she wanted me to come over for her Birthday in June. Vanessa sent me a touching letter[i] I still have the letter to this day. In it she tells me to get better. My little cousins really love me and I love them very much. Vanessa, my Goddaughter is my inspiration. I wish to mould her into a lovely young lady full of self esteem and wholesomeness. She wishes to become a lawyer. Yesterday, I went to the doctor. He said I looked fine. He said I could go to work on Monday. Easter is here. I want to absorb the newness of spring.
¥ Saturday, April 2, 1994
Today is Holy Saturday. I got up at 10 A.M. Couqui and Sophia Cuadrado, the two old ladies who used to take care of my cousins Vanessa and Jeannette came round to visit. They brought me a small Easter bunny with candies. Mum, John and I went to put an Easter cross on my grandparent’s grave. Then we went to have lunch at the Millcreek Mall. I bought myself two new spring dresses. Mum bought me an Easter balloon with a plush bunny in it.
¥ Easter Sunday, 1994
Today this Easter Sunday I woke up at 11 A.M. I ate a breakfast of strawberry shake and read the Easter Story. Vanessa called me to say that she and Jeannette’s Easter bouquet card arrived. Mum, John and I went to see Addis, our parents’ friend. Afterwards we had dinner at the Couch House. I watched King Kong on TNT. The weather was nice. The temperature reached 60ᴼF. Yet, though it rained, it felt warm.
¥ Monday, April 5, 1994
Yesterday I went back to work. Everybody was glad to see me. Today I had Story Hour. I did it alone. Two kids were all that came. I played Bend and Stretch, Loopy Loo with the children. I read them two stories and played two finger rhymes. When I went to light the candle to say the Story Hour rhyme, my whole nail caught fire. Nothing happened. I quickly blew it out. No harm done. My finger was slightly singed, but no permanent harm done. The children didn’t even notice. I dismissed the children at 11:30 P.M.
I went to vote for the Town of West New York’s proposal of my new 1994"1995 contract. The Communications Workers of America is fighting for equal pay and benefits and a rise in salary for the Town’s employees. I’m watching General Hospital at the moment. It’s quite interesting!
It was four months of hell. Four months that felt like an eternity. I felt so very fatigued and bone tired. I’ve never slept so much in my life! I never heard of CMV before I was diagnosed with it. I cannot donate any of my major organs because the disease lies dormant within me. I pray that later in life I do not get shingles or the disease wakes up again and rises against me. Dr Diaz said it was highly unlikely for that to happen. 1994 was a very trying year for me. Seventeen years later I have contacted bronchitis, hypothyroidism and asthma. I still get bone tired and fatigued, but not as much as I did in 1994.
© 2011 The Golden Pen
Added on August 18, 2011
Last Updated on August 18, 2011
The Golden Pen
Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
AboutMy name is Mary Aris, A.K.A. The Golden Pen. I have published three poetry books, three children's fictions, one Gothic Novel and an Autobiography through Lulu.com. more..