What can I do with mono?
July 16, 2008 10:18 PM   Subscribe

I have mononucleosis and I live by myself in New York. The first two days were agony, but six days later I feel great. When can I ride my bicycle again? Is it okay to have a beer? If I feel good, can I go for a long walk or dance to music? What about just hauling myself on the subway and getting groceries? If somebody elbows me, will my spleen rupture? How careful do I need to be? I'm not tired at all, do I still have to sleep all the time?
posted by bukharin to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have insurance? The best thing to do would be to go for a checkup to see if your spleen is significantly enlarged. Most spleen ruptures occur w/in the first 3 weeks, with noticeably enlarged spleens. And I would not ride a bicycle unless necessary because it's so easy to bump the handlebar against your abdomen without thinking. If you're restless (which is great!) be smart about your activities: take a walk, as you suggested, rather than dancing, which is much more vigorous.

In my experience the "mono feelings" came in waves and I wasn't fully back to normal for a very long time. I think this is a common experience. Being active now may mean difficulty later. So yes, you can resume day-to-day life e.g. getting groceries, but I recommend playing it safe.

And I think that for mono it's not that you have to sleep all the time, but rather you have to allow yourself to sleep whenever you want.
posted by acidic at 10:43 PM on July 16, 2008

when i had mono and my spleen was enlarged, i could feel it. it didn't hurt--it just felt like someone had sewed a football under my skin in my side.

i was in my first year of college, and after a week sick, i was able to be up and about, although i still tired very quickly. i might try short walks at first. subway should be fine. dancing and biking might want to wait for a bit. and don't sleep if you're not tired--that doesn't make sense.

go about your normal life, gently, but make provisions for and adjust your routines to accommodate sudden exhaustion lasting a couple of hours.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:18 AM on July 17, 2008

Wikipedia's advice on this sounds sensible to me:

Rest is recommended during the acute phase of the infection, but activity should be resumed once acute symptoms have resolved. Nevertheless heavy physical activity and contact sports should be avoided to abrogate the risk of splenic rupture, for at least one month following initial infection and until splenomegaly has resolved, as determined by ultrasound scan

If you've only had 2 days of feeling appalling, then you've got off very lightly indeed. When I had it I literally couldn't get out of bed for a fortnight. I'd take life pretty easy for the rest of the month - and specifcally forego the beers for a bit.
posted by prentiz at 4:26 AM on July 17, 2008

After my first 7 days of mono (and when I didn't know I had it yet), I also felt magically better, and decided to play a game of laser tag and go camping with my friends. Still feeling fine a couple days later, I took a transatlantic flight to visit my family abroad, at which point I crashed. My throat swelled up, I was tired all the time, and my fever was back, all for another week or so.

Moral of the story: it might not really be over yet, so don't go too crazy. I had an enlarged liver (rather than an enlarged spleen) and was told to stay away from alcohol - so maybe wait on the beer. Or at least to be safe, check the status of your spleen and liver with whoever diagnosed you.
posted by puffin at 4:33 AM on July 17, 2008

Given that it's going to be 90+ degrees over the next few days, I'd recommend that you not go too crazy on activity.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:15 AM on July 17, 2008

I felt quite ill and tired for about 3 MONTHS on and off. Luckily, it was my summer holiday when I was at university so for much of that time I could sleep when I absolutely couldn't get out of bed.

The advice to take it easy and not to push too hard is very important.

Do not drink. Mono affects your liver. Eat carefully, I lost about 7 kilos very quickly and you need to be able to keep your fluids and nutrition up.

Watch for any weird health issues in the future - when I got colds for the first year or two after mono I was much sicker than usual, and for a couple of years was very prone to things like very bad canker sores.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:49 AM on July 17, 2008

I, too, felt great after about a week of the initial "WTF with this fever...and I'm tired all the time...I think I'm sick...so tired....can't move...." So I went for a nice long hike on a nice and challenging trail. I felt fine for a while. The hike back to the car, however, was an ordeal. By the time I made it home I felt even worse. I then relived the hell of the first couple days of pure misery. I saw my doctor a few days after that and told him I went for a long hike. He said "Uh, I specifically told you not to do that."

So nthing everyone else. Take it easy, even though it is incredibly boring and your body is screaming "I'm fine! I'm fine! Let's GO!" Massive amounts of water and a nonstop stream of old funny movies got me through my convalescence. Good luck!
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2008

The incidence of ruptured spleen in mono is between 0.1 and 0.2%. It almost always happens in the first 3-4 weeks of symptoms. That said, a ruptured spleen is a pretty serious deal that you would really prefer not happen. General recommendations are to avoid contact sports for at least the first three weeks, but otherwise, activity can (and should) be resumed whenever you feel up to it. Go for long walks, shake what your mama gave you, go get groceries. It would be better not to get elbowed in the belly, but I wouldn't forego the subway for that, unless you ride a particularly violent subway. I would probably hold off on the bike for a couple of weeks, since a fall could be pretty nasty. No alcohol for at least 12 weeks, sorry to say.

I am not your doctor. This is not medical advice. Mono sucks...sorry you have it.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:49 AM on July 17, 2008

Mono is tricky. I had it four years ago at age 24. I was tired a lot, so tired that all I could do was work, come home, eat some dinner and go to bed. It was like this for a while. Then I got better. Then I would have a fever and chills. Then I would feel better. It took about 3 months to get over completely. I would recommend lots and lots of rest. The only thing that sucked harder than mono was morning sickness and fatigue during the first four months of my pregnancy... it's tough and it's ok to rest and relax. Your body needs to recuperate and devote energy to fighting the infection.
posted by FergieBelle at 9:07 PM on July 17, 2008

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