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My Month with Mono

It all started in May with the headaches. Headaches–and sleeping.

Each day, I would get home from my full time job at 6:30 p.m and go to bed at about 8:30 p.m. On the weekends, I would sleep all night and day.

The constant sleeping went on for three weeks, coinciding with extreme chills and fever. Thinking it was “just a cold,” I refrained from hugging my relatives at my siblings’ graduation party and was relegated to social pariah status.

Once the vomiting started, I knew something was wrong.

For two weeks in the middle of June, I didn’t eat. Everything that went down came right back up. Even the thought of drinking liquids was repulsive to me (Ever thrown up pure water? Apple juice you drank ten minutes ago? HINT: NOT FUN.).

Something was really wrong.

I went to the doctor and was suspected of having Hepatitis A (the food kind, people. Get your heads out of the gutter). By that point, my throat also felt like there was a razor in it and it looked like I had three golf balls lodged in my neck. One strep test, one ultrasound, and two blood tests later, and I was finally diagnosed with mononucleosis, “the kissing disease.”

Cue the jokes about wild college behavior.

I honestly don’t know how I got it. 

What I do know is that there is no way I could have dealt with this illness during a semester at school.

For those of you who have never had mono, imagine the most exhausted you’ve ever been in your life. You’re too tired to lift your feet to walk. You’re too tired to reply to texts and emails. You’re too tired to care about eating. All you want to do is sleep, just like a sloth. That’s mono.

And you know what? Some people might argue that this is also your typical semester in college. I disagree. I am very lucky to have gotten mono when I did. Because I can barely imagine a worse fate for a college-age student than a busy semester coupled with mono.

It’s no secret that we run ourselves into the ground at school. We exhaust ourselves with everything, from multiple jobs to group projects to all-night studying to partying all weekend. What we fail to recognize, despite how smart we like to think we are, is that we are hurting ourselves physically and mentally. 

There is no reason to ignore the signs that your body exhibits when something is wrong. Look at me–for two weeks I threw up everything I ate, thinking it might be a stomach flu I would “get over.” For someone who is usually billed as “smart,” I am pretty d**n stupid when it comes to my health.

Why wait to get worse when there’s a chance you can start to get better?

Had I been diagnosed with mono sooner, I could have had an iron-clad medical excuse as to why I was unable to move furniture and do heavy lifting at my job. MY SPLEEN COULD HAVE EXPLODED. I COULD HAVE DIED.

Instead, I spent a month of pure torture sitting at my internship, trying not to fall asleep at my desk, and doing the bare minimum amount of work I could get away with. 

Um, WORST intern behavior EVER. 

My parents wasted no time in making me reflect upon my behavior during the school year and my penchant for loading up my schedule like a baked potato at NDH on a Tuesday night. As much as I loathe to admit it, they’re right: I have to try and take it easy. I’m generally a high-speed person, but mono has given me the reality check that I need to ease up on the gas pedal. 

I learned a lesson from my month with mono. Sometimes, you get sick. And sometimes, you can’t just go about your day. Sometimes, you’re forced to admit that you’re only human and that you need to rest and recharge.

My month with mono–while a blight on my summer–forced me to reevaluate how I’ve been taking care of myself.










(Mono – not cute OR fluffy.)


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Brooke Kovanda is a senior at the University of Notre Dame and from Lockport, IL.  She is majoring in business marketing with a journalism minor.  When not blasting everything from Van Halen to Beyonce from her room, Brooke is probably planning an event for the campus radio station, narrating promotions at ND hockey games, or talking someone's ear off.  She faces an internal struggle between getting McDonalds or going for a run.  Her passions are journalism, media, and traveling; her dream is to work in public relations or advertising. 
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