Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Ross River Virus - my experience

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What Happened

It started back in February ... it's May now, about 10 weeks I guess.

So all the other blogs, forums and my GP were pretty much on-the-money with their predictions that it would take a minimum of 2~3 months to get over the worst of the symptoms.

The last two weeks have been progressively, noticeably less painful.

It turns out I've been one of well over 3,000 reported cases on the Eastern coast of Australia so-far this year ... more than last year's entire Australia-wide case-load !

The RRV Pain

It seems I had a fairly mild dose compared to some I have now learned-of and even come in contact with.
Some have had to use crutches to get round; some have been bed-ridden for days at a time; One I know of was even hospitalised for a short time!

To this very day it just amazes me how debilitating one tiny mosquito bite from the backyard of a suburban home can impact your life and well being!

There were days that required significant determination to make myself get up and walk.
Walking to the train, train-to-bus, bus-to-work and back again was severely taxing in some of those earlier weeks.
I was blessed to have several great work-mates and my team lead whom on several occasions gave me lifts to the station from work at the end of the day - that was a God-send.

One of the oddities for me was that from day to day (and even hour-to-hour on some days) the joint pain would 'move'.
i.e. one time pain would be bad in say, toes, ankles, knees and fingers; the next it might be mainly knees and elbows but ankles and fingers not-so-bad.

I noticed that for myself, even though I am a chronic "knuckle cracker" (apparently I even do it in my sleep!) my RRV joint pain was in all the finger joints except the actual knuckle joints which I crack!

The most consistently painful part has been rolling off my toes as I walk, and to this day, that is still the part that bothers me.

The single most painful exercise was walking down flights of stairs!

Exercise and Movement

I found that constant light activity was far better the inactivity. If I was inactive for a period, the pain of getting the joints mobile again was quite significant.
Getting up and moving during the night or in the morning was a real challenge in the early part of the recovery.
Even sitting in front of the TV for an hour or two meant a painful "restart" of movement.

Over-doing it on the other hand had a detrimental effect for several subsequent days.

For example, I went on a shopping-centre outting with the family earlier in the recovery. I was on my feet walking for several hours. I paid for that for three days of significantly worse pain.

Mid-way through I decided to mow the lawn myself rather than pay to have someone do it for me.
That proved to be a very dumb choice!

Simple things proved difficult.
Gripping things was difficult and at one point my grip was so weakened that I could not safely pick up plates and dishes single-handed. I simply could not open jars and medicine bottles for a week or two, I just did not have the strength of grip.

Leveraging boots/shoes on/off my feet hurt!

Typing on the computer keyboard for extended periods caused significant wrist and finger pain.

Warm spa baths were wonderfully pain-relieving at times.

Medications and Food

I tried a a variety of food and medication "experiments"

I found that an over-the-counter "Joint Food" product containing amongst other things, Chondroitin, Glucosamine and Selenium, seemed to help the pain BUT consistently caused me to have nose-bleeds !

I found most over-the-counter pain-killers simply didn't ... kill the pain.
Some of the worst days they may have taken the edge off it, but not much more than that.

I actively avoided taking anti-inflammatory drugs to avoid the digestive repercussions.  
I found Wine made the pain much worse the next day, whereas spirits did not increase the pain.
In actual fact I found that a glass (or two) of Kahlua and milk at night actually seemed to lessen the pain the following morning.

I was unable to draw direct correlation with any of my normal  fruit, vegetable and meat intake, although I felt there may have been some relationship to particularly fatty or starch-rich foods making pain a little worse within 12 hours.

In Summary 

Now ten weeks on ... its good to feel almost "well" again and be able to move fairly freely most of the time.
It's given me a whole new appreciation for those who have to live with arthritis constantly and I hope I do not have it this bad again in the years ahead!