People wonder why I am so afraid of mosquitoes. Well, if they had experienced what I did when I was 35 years old, they would worry about mosquitoes, too.
It all started while I was panning for gold at one of the remaining gold mines in North Caroline. At the time, I lived in Charlotte, and had two little girls to entertain. We had just come back from vacation in Florida and the girls were wanting to go out for the day, so we took them to the gold mine.
While I was panning, I got the weirdest headache. It hurt so badly that I couldn’t see. I had to go home and lie down. No one was very happy with that decision, but I was really sick and they knew it. That was on a Sunday. That night my head continued to hurt like crazy, so I took a strong pain pill and went to bed. I could actually feel my brain inside my skull.
The next day I called my doctor and went to see him. My head felt really weird. I thought I had had a stroke. The doctor talked to me for a few minutes and told me I had a virus that was caused by a mosquito bite that probably bit me in Florida. He said there was no medicine that would help me. I needed bed rest . He warned me that strange things might happen to me and to call him if I needed to. The next day I had a very painful neck. I couldn’t hold my head in any position to get it out of pain. I called the doctor. “Use warm cloths,” he said.
The next day I woke up and had terrible cramps in my legs. I could not walk. I had a fever, too. My husband had to walk me to the bathroom with my feet on top of his feet. He even had to hold me until I went to the bathroom. That night I had hallucinations.
The day after that I woke up and could not feel my chest. It didn’t feel like it was asleep…it felt like it wasn’t there. I called the doctor. He said, “Your brain is swelling and is making you have that sensation.” Every day for a week or two I called the doctor with a new symptom. I was really scared. I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t do anything but sleep. I would sleep for hours on end…up to 10 hours at a time. Even today, when I get sick, I have to sleep a lot. I think my brain must swell a little when I get a fever.
I was sick for about a month, but it took me 3 months to recuperate. My brain had swollen because I had encephalitis. The doctor didn’t tell me at the time, but he feared I would have some sort of brain damage. After I got better, he told me. I did have a little brain damage, sort of like having dyslexia; some of my writing would come out all jumbled and my numbers would reverse, too. I just had to try harder and check myself and my writing to make sure it was okay.
Once in awhile I would write an assignment on the board, and the kids would laugh. I’d look at it and laugh too. Nothing would make sense. This only happened once in a while and didn’t affect my teaching.
All in all, that has been my longest and worst illness in my life. I had asthma as a child and pneumonia, but that virus from the mosquito really put me flat out for several months. So…friends…this is why I am afraid of that ity bitty bug…the mosquito.