What was wrong with me?
January 14, 2006 8:01 AM   Subscribe

When I was 9, I spent a week in hospital and I still don't know why.

I remember it started with me having pains in my legs. My parents thought this was just "growing pains" until it got so bad I could hardly walk, I had the same pains in my back, a high temperature and was extremely fatigued. They called a doctor, who immediately sent me to hospital.

I remember being sick a lot and not eating and having lots of blood tests. My white blood count was lower than it should have been, but I don't how much lower. Leukaemia was mentioned (I remember this because my parents were Jehovah's Witnesses, so I was was aware of blood-related diseases) I had several other tests, one of which was, I think, an MRI.

In the end, there was no official diagnosis and I was told that I had some kind of virus. I don't know if more was said to my parents. After the week in hospital, it took several more weeks to recover and several months before I felt completely well again.

13 years later and I am very healthy, so there were obviously no long-term side-effects. But I'm curious as to what sort of virus could cause all that pain and those symptoms and still not be diagnosed. It seems very odd!
posted by speranza to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Is there a reason you can't ask your parents or your doctor?

It's possible that though they were misleading you when they told you it was a virus. Adults don't always feel like they need to tell kids the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Consider non-virus explanations, too.
posted by duck at 8:16 AM on January 14, 2006

When I was about 16 I started experiencing exhaustion, lack of any appetite whatsoever, shooting pains in my legs (and throughout my body), a high fever, and, eventually, blurred vision. My extremely low white blood cell count and swollen organs (liver, spleen, etc) led the doctors to originally suspect leukemia. Eventually, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Initial recovery took about a month, but I was extremely fatigued for years after due to the Epstein-Barr virus. 14 years after contracting mono, I'm still not sure I'm quite right energy-wise.
posted by justonegirl at 8:20 AM on January 14, 2006

You can get a copy of the records from the hospital. (Specify that you don't want a summary but all the notes, test results, etc.) If you can't figure anything out from that then you could get a doctor to interpret them for you (but if this isn't related to your current health situation then I expect your health coverage probably won't cover this interpretation).
posted by winston at 8:29 AM on January 14, 2006

Response by poster: I'm in the UK, so I could get my medical records easily enough, but it was such a long time ago and obviously is not relevant to my health now, so I am really just mildly curious rather than "suspicious" or anything like that.
posted by speranza at 8:33 AM on January 14, 2006

It sounds like it may have been viral meningitis. Particularly the leg pain .
posted by defreckled at 8:34 AM on January 14, 2006

Sounds like meningitis to me too. Just out of curiosity, you mention your parents being Jehova's witness and therefore knowing about blood diseases - what is the link there?
posted by antifuse at 9:12 AM on January 14, 2006

Response by poster: Well, JW's don't accept blood transfusions and all witnesses (including children) carry a No Blood card, in case of accidents. JW kids are generally taught quite young about the situations in which a blood transfusion might be given and Leukaemia is a fairly common one.
posted by speranza at 9:15 AM on January 14, 2006

The Bible says to abstain from eating bloody meat; accordingly, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that taking blood into their body is forbidden by God; accordingly, they refuse blood transfusions. (But they do not refuse to eat meat at all, even though it's impossible to remove 100% of the blood from meat.) More than a few JW children and adults die every year from conditions that would be easily treatable with transfusions. JW's are even forbidden from storing their own blood, so there's basically no way for them to have any sort of major operation.

The poster's condition sounds very much like meningitis.
posted by jellicle at 9:22 AM on January 14, 2006

Sounds more like Guillain-Barré syndrome to me. There's not enough information here to render any kind of more definitive diagnosis, though.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2006

Mod note: comments removed, please take Jehovas Witness discussion to MetaTalk or email if it's not relevant to the question
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2006

Response by poster: I'm not a "he", my parents are no longer JW's (nor am I - I'm pretty much an atheist), they have never been untrustworthy or unethical (and fuck you for suggesting they are), but it's entirely possible that they did not want to terrify me more than I already was considering it was the first time I had ever been in hospital.
posted by speranza at 11:08 AM on January 14, 2006

Just to be clear, my suggestion that you consider non-viral answers as well was not to imply that your parents were untrustworthy, but that they might not have wanted to burden you with explanations you might not understand anyway.
posted by duck at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2006

There are some deeply weird viruses out there that 'Joe Bloggs' will likely never hear about - the 1-in-50,000 ones - You have to grab your MedDocs and get more information if you wish to know more than you already do...
posted by DrtyBlvd at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2006

I had something similar at age 5 or 6, one day my legs just stopped working and I was tired and weak. Everybody freaked out in a very major way, but it eventually turned out to be a rare, non-permanent-damaging virus thingie.
Not a lot of info on it, just a "me too".
posted by signal at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2006

To repeat duck, why can't you ask your parents?
posted by chiababe at 10:15 PM on January 14, 2006

Just get the medical records. They are required by law to give them too you, and it'll give you more of a clear picture of what you went through.

If your parents didn't tell you then, and don't bring it up, even now, then they arn't going to give you a straight answer. My mother routinely tells her friends, and especially any GF I'm going out with, all sorts of stories, including any hospital visits. I had many. Seems I was a clumsy child. ;)

Just an odd note that is pure speculation.....but former JW's, no blood tranfusions, you were never told what really happened, they don't talk about it ever, and they and you are no longer JW's? Sounds like a Conspiracy Theory to me. Maybe they thought they might lose you, and a transfusion was required, and they simply hid it from their friends, and you, in case you accidently blurted it out to said friends. Just a theory of course. :)
posted by Phynix at 3:05 AM on January 15, 2006

Response by poster: I could ask my parents (well, my mother, my parents are divorced and I don't see my dad much), but it was such a long time ago and we're not very good at talking about the past or personal things, so I feel like it would be an awkward conversation. If I ever get curious enough, I'll get my medical records and see what they say.

Phynix, I love a good conspiracy theory, but I don't think anything very weird went on here. I think it is possible that I was sicker than I thought and they didn't want to scare me, but that's about it. (BTW, my parents aren't JW's anymore because my dad is an alcoholic and he was disfellowshipped because of that.)
posted by speranza at 1:03 PM on January 15, 2006

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