I got tired in mid-November of my senior year of high school. It was hard to focus during basketball practice, let alone run quickly up and down the court. Going to classes drained me.Swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, fatigue and headache are some of the symptoms of mononucleosis, which is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is generally self-limiting and most patients can recover in 4 to 6 weeks without medications.
Epstein Barr infection is a scourge of adolescence. You can learn all about it in June 2016 Pediatrics in Review.
In the clinic, though, you can learn about life. William Osler supposedly said, “It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.”
For me, mono meant three days off school, a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday, and the end of my basketball career. Away from the court, I spent more time studying (and then went into medicine) and engaged more deeply with leadership of a church youth group (and then served overseas for seven years).Sir William Osler at the American Women’s War Hospital, Paignton, England, 1915. Courtesy: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, in NLM’s Profiles in Science #GFBBDS
Yes, mono is often a benign, self-limited illness of minimal medical consequence. But, mono can change lives, alter plans, and prompt new endeavors. As physicians, we have the opportunity to know our patients, not just their diseases. We have the privilege of going through rough times with children and teenagers, of helping them develop resilience, and of enhancing their forward progress in life.
So, enjoy the fine article “Cytomegalovirus and Epstein Barr Virus Infections,” by Drs. Pinnninti, Hough-Telford, Pati and Boppana in Pediatrics in Review this month.
Then, take the knowledge you gain into the clinic and improve your patients’ lives. Osler also said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”
Following Osler, let’s be great physicians.