Those dreaded words from our family internist came via a telephone call. "Your child has mononucleosis." It wasn't the first time Dr. Bruce Sanderson uttered those words. He made that same phone call to us when our then-college freshman was heading back the next day for spring semester at LSU. "I think he should stay home and not go back just yet." Have you ever tried to reason with a college freshman? He wasn't having it. So that child spent three long months very ill. Dr. Sanderson said he had "an enlarged spleen and elevated liver enzymes." Not words we wanted to hear nor did the patient. He was so fatigued (the fatigue is quite numbing) on his seven-hour drive to Baton Rouge that he had to pull over in a small town in southeast Arkansas to nap in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart. He couldn't even muster the energy to make the trip without a nap. That was 2015. So when Dr. Sanderson called this time (2018) with the same news, different child, we felt like we had played this game before and maybe we had a home-court advantage. Rest. That is what Dr. Sanderson said would help curtail the illness. And rest she did. We are the parents who turn on bedroom lights and get teenagers up to go mow a lawn or unload a dishwasher. I don't like teens who lie in bed all day. Unless they have mono. It is the first time I insisted she go back to bed and drink plenty of fluids. She was living at home commuting to Dallas for work as a professional model, so she was able to let her agents know she was too ill to work for three weeks. She stayed in bed.
The challenge with mono is getting the wrong diagnosis. It happened both times to my children. (My oldest never got it). When our son went to the walk-in clinic on campus, he was disoriented and having night sweats and the worst sore throat of his life. The physician there swabbed for the flu (negative), saw his enormous tonsils and remarked about them, and told him he probably had a virus. It was the day before Dead Day at LSU where there are no classes while students prepare for finals. He was so sick. He came home after finals and his neck protruded where the tonsils were so enlarged. I sent him to a walk-in clinic in Little Rock where he was diagnosed with tonsillitis. He was given antibiotics. When ten days passed and he was no better, I called our family physician, Dr. Sanderson, who asked him to come in for a mono-spot screen and a physical examination to see if the spleen was enlarged. It was. Dr. Sanderson asked my son, "You mean, you've been living in a dorm with these symptoms, and no one tested you for mono?" "No, sir," he answered. The mono-spot test came back positive that afternoon along with the elevated liver enzymes. No athletic activities AT ALL for several months. He was on an antibiotic though it shouldn't have been prescribed, but one cannot stop taking them mid-course. Something about rheumatic fever or something plague-sounding. So he barely made it through that second semester of his freshman year. In fact, his tonsils never did settle down, and he had them removed along with his adenoids, septum repair and polyp clean out. It was a very difficult surgery for an adult to recover and he lost 18 pounds in three weeks from the recovery. He was so mad to be that uncomfortable but now he has no sore throats or any other sinus issues.
So when our youngest was diagnosed, Dr. Sanderson was dealing with someone who was told she had strep throat without a throat swab. ("Lisa, is the doctor a clairvoyant? Because one cannot be diagnosed with strep throat just by looking.") Our daughter, too, had been put on antibiotics unnecessarily, which makes my skin crawl. And she, too, couldn't stop the course of the medicines for all the stuff we didn't want. She broke out into the rash that mono patients get when they are put on antibiotics when they don't have strep. Now my skin went from crawling to my blood boiling. Getting her back on her feet was my number one goal for about three weeks. I did my research and found a few things to help.
First, she started on colloidal silver drops. She did that at least once a day. The problem was her throat hurt so bad that she had a hard time swallowing.
Second, she took the Myco Shield Spray Immune Support. She did that twice a day.
She took something twice a day for lymphatic support. There are products called Red Root that are good. I really believe lymphatic support is important.
Finally, besides good ole Vitamin D from sitting outside and drinking plenty of fluids with electrolytes and lots of rest, she underwent IV therapy for her immune system. Vitamins B and C and anything else our nurse practitioner Lindsey Gillum, APN suggested is what she did.
How is she now? We are a month out at this writing, and she is slowing easing back into modeling. She has been fortunate to have short jobs (like four-hour jobs) and has not been booked back-to-back. Mono is a tough one. Some take a year to recover; others are more fortunate. I do think the early diagnosis and the immediate rest helped.
Bottom line: if you have a child with the worst sore throat that child has ever had and extreme fatigue DEMAND to have your child tested with the mono-spot test. And don't let your child take an antibiotic for strep throat unless the strep screen comes back positive.
And remember, I am not a medical doctor and this is not medical advice. It's mom advice. Which might be even better.