Back in 1980, I was stationed at Ft Carson, Colorado and had just gone through a devastating experience. My body must have been in a weakened state following that and I somehow came down with mono. Now, back in my day, they called this condition/disease/affliction the kissing disease. Well, I certainly had not been kissing anybody and by the time my friend found and rescued me, I was pretty near death.
All I knew was I was sick, sicker than I had ever been in my life. I had checked with my doctor, who told me I had strep throat, isolated me to my room at the barracks, and it was there that I continued to deteriorate. Everyone knew where I was but no one came to visit, I assume for fear they would catch the horrible thing that I had. I must have had a mini-fridge or a cooler in my room, I remember getting some ice cream because my throat hurt so bad, but it melted and I was left with some milky foam…not appetizing at all.
I must have been in isolation close to a month when my friend finally called me to check on me, when I answered her in a strangled, high pitch squeal she couldn’t even understand she said, “I’m coming and I’m taking you to the hospital!” All I could think was it was about time someone finally cared about whether I lived or died. I had wasted away up there, I lost 14 pounds due to the fact that my tonsils had swelled to the point of touching, I could not get any food down at all. I was managing water and broth and the doctor had given me medication to numb my throat, yet the antibiotics he gave me were not working at all.
Once my friend arrived and carted me to the hospital, I discovered the reason nothing was working was because they had been treating me for the wrong thing. I had mono, not strep-I remember the doctor saying, “I’ve got good news and bad,” and I asked him, “Am I gonna die?” He laughed and said no, but I would be going home for awhile, I was that sick! He said I needed a mother’s love and would need about another month to get well. I had to get my top’s (sergeant) permission to leave, walking out on the parade field to get my paperwork signed, he saw me and his mouth fell open at my appearance. He did not even recognize me! (Note: Mono is a virus like Ebstein-Barr and that’s why antibiotics weren’t working)
My parents were so concerned about me, they babied and cared for me for three weeks and nursed me back to health. I must have been super sick to get a medical leave, they thought and they were right. I was so sick I even developed hemorrhoids from all the diarrhea and strain on my body. My mother said it was unheard of for a 19-year-old to have those, and gave me the medicine to fix it. I guess my weight looked ok to them, what they didn’t know was that I had gained about 15 pounds from drinking and so when I lost that weight, I was actually back to my normal size. When I learned to drink, it was white and/or black Russians and sloe gin fizzes that were my choice at the time. One night I drank 15 black Russians…it’s amazing that didn’t kill me itself! I had been dancing, so I thought I was burning it off. I was so stupid, moving actually makes you absorb it more!
Soon enough, I was better and had to go back to Colorado. My Dad put me on a bus (really?) and two days later I was there, and again I was put on light duty. My body took another two months to fully recover, and then I was back to my wild child self again. I pretty much maintained my weight after that, I decided the pudgy look was not a good one on me. I kept the weight off by dancing like a maniac and stopped drinking the sugar laden, milky beverages I had grown accustomed to. I didn’t stop drinking, however, I just switched to a less caloric choice. Rum and coke I think it was. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m lucky to have survived. Thank God I had at least one friend willing to break the rules that day (I was in isolation, remember) or I’d have surely been a goner!