On April 1st, 2008, I woke up at 5 am with a high fever (102) and swollen tonsils. I thought it was just the flu at first and subsequently went into work, high fever and all, since my boss needed me in to finish a project by the end of the week. The first of many brilliant choices that I made in those first few months. Yes, that was sarcasm. The fever wouldn't go away, so I went to go see a doctor and was informed that I probably had mononucleosis (confirmed the next day). My spleen was enlarged and the markers relating to liver health were 10-15 times the normal amount, indicating extreme liver deterioration. After staying home for two weeks to take care of myself, my sick days ran out so I returned to work. I also had a lot going on at work (new projects were constantly being scheduled) and felt the pressure of needing to return since I thought that I was the only one who could take care of it. At that point, the swelling had subsided and the fever was gone, but I was still left with the overwhelming exhaustion associated with mono.
Here is the real kicker in the whole situation. Although I had run out of sick days, I still had plenty of vacation days that I had saved up over the last year of working there. However, I had planned/booked a 3-week backpacking trip through Europe with my friend for May 9th (a month after I got sick) so I was reluctant to use them. I had been stupidly hoping that I would miraculously get better by that time and I could still go on my trip. I had been wanting to travel for years at that point and this was my first opportunity to. So I went into work in hopes that within 3 weeks, I would be OK to travel and could thus still use my vacation days. Brilliant decision number 2.
Brilliant decision number 3 was going to the doctor and taking her advice. Two weeks before our planned departure date to London, I decided to see my doctor and talk to her about the situation. I asked her if she thought I could go on the trip, if I could handle it, and if it wouldn't be detrimental to my health. Being the informed and thoughtful person that she apparently was, she said I definitely can go without a blink of the eye. Let me remind you again of how stupid I was back then and say that I was overjoyed at this news. I didn't feel much better at that point, but I was convinced that I was indestructible and the thought that this trip could seriously harm my health never crossed my mind. I mean, the doctor said it was OK. So it must be OK. Yes, this is how stupid I was. And this is how desperately I wanted to get away and travel, see the world. I was 22, just barely out of college and had plenty of misguided notions about what it meant to live boldly and experience life at that point, and the value of the choices made to do so.
Needless to say, my boss was not very pleased with my decision to take my vacation days and travel since I had just left for 3 weeks prior to that due to illness. And, as I mentioned, I really wasn't in any condition to go. But it's amazing of how deeply we can convince ourselves of certain ideas when we so desperately want them to be true. It wasn't too bad, I would survive. And so the lies began.