In this blog, I am going to talk about my recent experience of suffering with glandular fever from start to finish. My goal is to list everything I was feeling pre and post illness from the physical effects through to the mental effects. I am not pretending to be a doctor with my writing of this blog as with anything medical, I would always refer someone to see a medical professional.
Glandular fever, what is it?
I was aware of glandular fever and I was surprised with how many people had not heard of glandular fever or had no idea of what its effects are. Glandular fever is also known as infectious mononucleosis or Mono, apparently, some people know this as the kissing disease due to the virus being spread through saliva. I didn’t know this other name and only offered a blank look when the nurse asked who I had been kissing.
Glandular fever is infectious up to 7 weeks before you feel any symptoms and can last for many months. Because what we are dealing with is a virus, there are no medications to help, you will need to follow the advice from the doctor on how to overcome the illness. The most common side effects of glandular fever are tiredness, fever and a sever sore throat. Typically, this is everything I suffered with.
How it affected me
As I mentioned above, I had a severe sore throat, tiredness and a fever. The sore throat was like nothing I had felt before, meaning I was hospitalised me for a few days due to the lack of fluids I was able to get into my body, I would pay good money to never feel that again.
I first noticed something wasn’t right towards the end of July 2019, I was not able to get through a whole day without a sleep. This wasn’t a “I have nothing to do” sleep, I was in physical need of a sleep and couldn’t function without. After some while, I went for a trip to the doctors and had a blood test, the result was clear, nothing wrong at all. I immediately put this down to working too hard but didn’t back off from working. Eventually, I picked up the sore throat which continued to get more painful and caused me to not be able to swallow. This then prompted more tests and this time specially for Glandular fever or Epstein Barr Virus I think the test is officially called, this test came back positive and I was officially diagnosed with Glandular Fever.
This gave me some sense of relief, mentally and physically. I was starting to worry why I was so tired all the time even after an 8-hour sleep, I had everything running through my mind, as you can imagine. Physically I was relieved as I was able to step of the bike and out of the gym guilt free, well guilt free for about 3 weeks that is. The likes of Strava were disabled for a short while to stop me seeing all the progress my friends were making whilst I was sitting at home feeling like I was losing all ability to exercise ever again.
Training with Glandular Fever, listening to your body and motivation
As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from tiredness before I officially knew I had the illness, so I was trying to train and push myself daily. Some days, this was impossible, some days it was manageable, and I had no days in this time of feeling good on the bike. Very frustrating to say the least.
I just wanted to be fit, healthy, ride/race my bike, and join in with my friends for regular chain-gangs, but this was impossible. I was not able to complete planned sessions and sometimes I wouldn’t even start them.
One thing I did well through this period was listening to my body, now sometimes, it wasn’t so much listening to my body, it was listening to a tired voice in my head telling me another excuse why not to do the session. Occasionally I would turn and look at myself in the mirror and know that I was too tired to complete the workout and I needed to rest, that didn’t mean things were starting to add up, but I did listen. Majority of the time, I would find an excuse to make myself feel better to why I wasn’t training and why I was missing yet another session whilst everyone else was racing two or three times a week and training in the middle. I would recommend everyone to listen to your body and understand when the right time is to train and when is not regardless if you have an illness or have simply over trained. If like me, you are always feeling tired, go and get a blood test to ensure there isn’t a greater problem which needs to be addressed.
Due to the constant feeling of fatigue, I started to lose motivation and fast, I simply started to resent the thought of riding my bike, something which I had never felt before. I had everything running through my head. I even showed interest at entering a local 10km running race. This is something which had a massive effect on me, now I am on the way out of the illness, I am motivated beyond belief to get going again.
Stepping away from anything bike related quickly, the illness was taking toll on my work and social life, I didn’t want to make plans with friends, I didn’t want to go for days out with my girlfriend and I didn’t want to take any long car journeys as I would easily fall asleep and become grumpy if woken up unnaturally. I was not able to complete a full day at work without a nap, and if I couldn’t nap, I would need to be in bed by 7pm.
Post glandular fever
I am now on the mend and feel back to my normal self, I was starting to forget what it felt like to not be tired anymore. I have had to be careful in my recovery as I couldn’t work too hard and couldn’t exercise. I have listened to the smart advice from the doctors and now looking forward to starting my first week back training, so I am ready to tackle the 2020 race season.
I have had time to analyse what I want to achieve when it comes to riding my bike both in the racing world and recreationally. I have become hungry to achieve these targets.
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