“Helen already showed you where we put food waste right? Okay.” The roommate left, briefly, and then laughed to herself in the living room. She came back into my room. “Oh…and we have mono,” she said, smiling.
At first, I just laughed at her. “Oh! The kissing disease! How awful, I’m so so sorry,” I said. The girls insisted the virus was probably past its incubation period.
“We won’t infect you, just don’t lick our glasses or anything!” they said to me.
“Okay!” I responded.
I liked them. They were nice girls, and I wanted nice girls. And besides, it was just Mono…it wasn’t the bubonic plague or whatever terrible virus would make for an interesting contrast.
Then, hypochondria happened and I found myself listlessly searching “mono” in wikipedia.
Fever—this varies from mild to severe, but is seen in nearly all cases.
Tender and enlarged/swollen lymph nodes—particularly the posterior cervical lymph nodes.
Sore throat—White patches on the tonsils and back of the throat are often seen
Muscle weakness and Mental fatigue (sometimes extreme)
Some patients also display:
Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly, which may lead to rupture) and/or liver (hepatomegaly)
Abdominal pain - a possible symptom of a potentially fatal rupture of the spleen.
Loss of appetite
Dizziness or disorientation
Uncontrolled shaking at times
Unable to swallow due to enlarged tonsils
Supra-orbital oedema—the eyes become puffy and swollen—may occur in the early stages of infection
Wow…those all totally suck.
And this was the kicker:
Individuals in close living arrangements nearly always pass the infection onto each other, although symptoms may not present for months or even years.
Okay, so at first I read that and I was like “nuh uh wikipedia…not this time. You be full o’shit,” I mean, since Wikipedia is peer-reviewed, perhaps that sentence just slipped by some real smart folks who meant to change it but never did. Or perhaps it was written by a monkey, or maybe a cat walked over someone’s keyboard but it just can’t be true.
You mean there’s no way to avoid it, Wikipedia? What if I bathed my dishes in Purell? What if I gargled with hot water after meals?
I felt hopeless. Depressed. This room was by far the best living situation I could have asked for, minus the threat of depression and skin rash. One of the past roommates had worked for Anthropologie and left all her niceass shit in the apartment inches away from my room and I know Anthropologie gets crap from people because its owned by Urban but this stuff was nice, and intricate, and the girls were sweet and we had already bonded over shared music tastes.
That night, as I breathed, I thought about the mono. Was it in the air? I thought something smelled funny. Was I getting depressed? I sure felt tired. Maybe I already had it.
I called my doctor the next morning. “Can I live with these people?” I asked the receptionist. She told me she’d ask someone. The nurse practitioner called me back and left a message while I was babysitting.
“Hi Steve, well I checked with doctor Mann and he said you should wash your hands a lot and never share dishes or glasses or anything with your roommates. He was not sure whether it was definite you would catch mono, but, if you can, you should also try and stay away from your roommates as much as possible. Oh, and ‘good luck.’ Those are his words, not mine. He wrote good luck. Ha ha ha well isn’t that funny. Well have a good day, Steve and we hope to see you in the next week or month or year. Buh-bye.”
Stay away from my roommates? But. I live with them. How is that possible? And what was with this defeatist “good luck” statement. I wanted to know; what kind of tone had my doctor used to say “good luck”? Was it sarcasm? Genuine heartfelt fuzzy good wishes?
That afternoon I had to pick up the kids from soccer practice. I tired to listen to “Matket Watch” on NPR, but my thoughts were all over the place. I called my mother and told her everything. “Move the hell out,” she said to me. “What are you, crazy?”
That night, I told my roommates I was leaving. "This is a break-up. I am breaking up with you because you're sick," I told them. They told me it was fine, they were used to it, and they were surprised that Helen, who owned the room I had moved into, had not told me about their illnesses.
I started to pack all of my books into boxes. That's when I got thirsty. I opened one of the cupboards and stared at the beautiful anthropologie cups for about two minutes, trying to decide which one looked the least infected. I chose an orange one with vines. I decided I'd have to make a hot drink, because I thought heat might kill the mono. I began boiling water for tea, first running hot water over the entire tea kettle to make sure it wasn't still infected. The kettle crackled as water dripped down on to the electric stove.
Next, I ran the cup over hot water until my hands were red and burning. Shaking, I stuck a packet of "calm" tea in the cup and waited for my water to boil. The irony of this did not alude me. After I had poured the boiling water into my cup, I began to attempt to "air sip" my calm tea. Hot water poured down my chin and onto the bottom of my t-shirt, where it made a small pool.
"This is not going to work, even for one day," I thought to myself.
It's now the fourth day. I move out tomorrow. Please don't feel sorry for me.