New recovery milestone from Chikungunya (or Zika or Dengue)

My recovery from whatever mosquito-borne virus got me at the end of last year hit a new milestone.

I recently managed to jog five miles for the first time since falling ill in Tulum in at the end of November 2015. Five miles! My knee joints felt good enough to keep going, so I did. And-it-felt-amazing. Until later that day.

My knees were ok, but my neck was so stiff I could hardly move it by that afternoon. (I’m a slow, morning jogger.) I wake up nearly every morning with a stiff neck, but it goes away throughout the day. Usually, it’s gone before my jog, which happens about an hour after I wake up.

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A mosquito I killed in my Tulum apartment.

I’m 99% percent sure I had Chikungunya, based on how my joints have been through the ringer the last six months, and also based on a doctor’s declaration – a doctor who’d seen many cases of Chikungunya in Tulum. (That’s where I was living when I became sick.) Even though the blood tests came back negative, I later learned false negatives are common when the tests are done too early.

Also, I think it’s possible I may have had a co-infection. That’s actually common in Central America. Without blood results, I’ll never really know for sure. And misdiagnoses happen all the time, not only in Mexican labs, but also in U.S. laboratories.

The symptoms for Chikungunya, Zika and Dengue are similar. I had the usual – high fever, chills, joint pain, rash, incredible headache and more.

Months later, I still have joint pain. That can happen to 25% of patients with Chikungunya. However, I will never, ever forget the severe eye pain – it hurt to move my eyes. That usually happens in Dengue patients. And that, honestly, scares me. An infection from a second, third or fourth strain of the Dengue virus (there are four) can be a serious health issue requiring hospitalization. Right now, we are a two hour drive from a hospital.

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The beach in Mahahual.

Can’t live in fear though. The world is full of mosquitoes. Especially here in Central America, where I’ve been living and traveling since August 2015.

For right now, we live on the beach, and the breeze keeps them grounded for the most part. I hardly ever get bit unless I go back a few blocks from the beach here in Mahahual.

I ask my spouse nearly every night to massage my legs, ankles and feet. I rarely ask for my neck and back anymore – my legs need it more. I want to keep jogging, after all. Guess I need a private masseuse ;-).

I’m not sure if the stiffness is from the aging process, or from whatever remnants of whatever virus is still inside me.

Luckily, my symptoms aren’t worse. Today I am able to do things like jog. And type. These are some things some people infected with these dreadful mosquito viruses can’t always do after infection, so yeah, I’m one of the lucky ones.

Of course, right now, the Zika virus is causing concern because of the birth defects it can cause, and because it’s also able to spread through sexual contact in addition to mosquitoes. The CDC has an alert level 2 in some Central American countries because of this virus. Here’s the updated travel alert page from the CDC.

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