Viral Meningitis: It's Awful, Don't Do It

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | 0 Comment(s)

Last week I conducted my Consumer Report testing on the experience of contracting viral meningitis,  all so you wouldn't have to.  The short version is, you shouldn't catch this disease.

Diseases do not look or feel like this. 
Let's start at the beginning -- many people believe, at first glance, that this is an infection that eats your brain.  That's not correct.  Those are zombies.  Even bacterial meningitis, the "worst of the meningitis's" doesn't eat your brain.  It inflames it -- or more specifically , it inflames the membrane around the brain (and spinal cord).  In viral meningitis, a virus is the mechanism of action causing the inflammation, meaning that throughout my thorough testing of said disease, I was quite literally "insane in the membrane." Take that House of Pain fans. 

I had one conflated variable which reduced my ability to speak directly to this awful friggin virus, and that was that I had the flu concurrently.  Bully for me.  So this whole ordeal, I mean scientific experiment, began the way most sicknesses originate, with hot and cold sweats throughout the night.  I tossed and turned while feeling the layer of sweat pooling on the sheets beneath me.  I only got a few hours of actual shut eye, and morning provided little relief.

Every time you defecate and vomit simultaneously, you are reminded of what it really means to be humbled.  As my humanity shot out both ends, I thanked my lucky stars that my wife, healthy and trapped with me in a small cabin in Vermont, took the "for better or for worse" part of her vows seriously.  She handed me the trash can to throw up in and I felt embraced by the warmth of her unconditional love.  Then i thew that up too.  

My wife drove what was left of me the three hours back to our house in Massachusetts, and I stumbled, not unlike a zombie I might add, up and into our bed.  Besides for brief jaunts to the toilet, I remained in that bed for the next 5 DAYS.  For those 5 days of this 8 day ordeal, even the thought of watching TV hurt my head. I couldn't take the bright lights or the sound.   So I slept or just kinda stared at the wall like a mental patient for 5 days. 120 hours. I almost sawed my arm off with a pocketknife just out of boredom.  

Here was the crux of the problem.  The flu only lasted the first 4 or 5 days.  The fever, body ache, and fatigue went through the expected trajectory for a sickness.  But where the flu stopped, the meningitis took over with a flourish. With the brain and spinal column inflamed, your head feels like cement.  I couldn't think properly.  Trying to remember facts or locations physically hurt, and the answers seemed hidden behind an impenetrable fog.  Actually moving my head in any direction was debilitating.  I would describe the experience as trying to transport the cement block of my dome through a semi-permeable viscous suspension -- like the world around my head was made of gel. The energy it took to locomote such a dense orb wiped me out completely. Going downstairs on day six took so much effort, that it sent me right upstairs and back to bed for another few hours.  

This general fog, combined with a neck stiffness that is still lingering a full two weeks later, truly sets viral meningitis apart from infections I've had in the past.  The intensity with which the virus "shuts that whole thing down" is as impressive as it was debilitating.  If you get viral meningitis, the chances are high that it will eventually bring you to tears due to the frustration of having your head booted like an abandon vehicle on the side of the road.  Even well after I felt 100% from the neck down, the infection in my brain's outer membrane was severe enough to still keep me from any productive activities.  By day eight, I was a fully-fueled race car stuck at an endlessly stale red light. 

I give viral meningitis 4 Snot Filled Tissues - the most caustic ranking in a 4 Tissue rating system.  Do not get viral meningitis, it really is the worst.

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