Monday, August 16, 2004

The Kissing Disease

It has many names—the Epstein-Barr virus, mononucleosis, the kissing disease—but virtually every person on the planet has had mono at least once. Most of us are protected for the first few years of life by our mothers' antibodies. After that protection fades, mono is generally passed among children in schools; youngins rarely show symptoms of the virus. They just get over it and have protective anitbodies that protect them.

Of course, like any other disease which persists in the body, there's always a chance that mono can reinfect its carrier. This possibility generally manifests itself in those with weak immune systems: AIDS patients, cancer patients etc.

And then, there's me.

I had mono my freshman year in college and passed it on to my sister. Ha! I figured that would be the end of it. Boy was I wrong!

In a healthy person, an Epstein-Barr panel (a blood test) will reflect a small presence of antibodies, indicating an ancient infection with echoes in the body. This appears as a number between 1 and 19. My number? Survey says 163!

That number makes it fairly obvious that I am either getting over the disease or suffering from an active infection. Ah, the justification of my feline sleeping habits!

So, of all people, why did my psychiatrist send me for an Epstein-Barr panel? He wanted to investigate the most common cause of prolonged exhaustion. Like a detective, he suspected that the cause of my exhaustion was not my medications, but rather, my somnolence was disease-oriented. And he was right.

This confirms, yet again, why I feel that having a psychiatrist is infinitely preferable than having dual treatment with a psychologist and a psychiatrist as many health plans are now advocating. Basically, many mental health patients are evaluated by a doctor once and then farmed out to a psychologist so that the psychiatrist will only have to see them four times a year. Quintessential piss poor treatment.

The true tragedy of these plans is that wealthier patients will be able to pay for the highest quality of care while the destitute will suffer from the avarice of insurance executives and their cronies. I suppose that's the way of the world, that wealth will always grant its owners increased luxury.

I guess I'm too tired to think about it.