Valley Fever Strikes

Yet another ugly beast of the desert has reared its head.  As if scorpions, rattlesnakes, javelinas and haboobs were not enough, Valley Fever decided to take over Max.  Oh no, its nothing like Spring Fever, or Saturday Night Fever, or even Cabin Fever.  Valley Fever might sound like a sitcom or something fun but it made Max sicker than I have ever seen him.
 Valley Fever is found in the Sonoran dessert region and is a fungal infection that can cause fever, chest pain, coughing, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, night sweats and a rash.  Little spores in the desert soil get stirred into the air and take up residence in your lungs.  Most people don't even know they have it, but 40% will have severe symptoms and some of them will develop pneumonia and then ever fewer (5%) develop disseminated disease.
(All the white on the far right side of his lung is the infection from the spores.  It should be all black like the left side.)

About 3 weeks ago Max decided to clean up the side yard where there had been a pile of debris.  He had commented to me at the time how awful it smelled and how moldy it was.  Then a week later he started to come down with flu like symptoms.  But so did Karlie.  We figured they got the typical winter bug.  However, after 2 days Karlie got better and went back to school.  I thought Max was just being a wimp.  Oops!  By Wed he had missed so much work that he needed a Doctor's note.  So he went in and tested negative for the Flu.  His female doctor also sort of gave him the man up attitude as she said she had the same thing last week but continued to see patients on her feet each day.  So he tried to toughen up and go back to work on Thursday.  He came home completely exhausted each day between 2 and 3.  On Friday as I was driving my parents back from the airport and we were discussing how sick he was and it donned on me that he had the symptoms of Valley Fever.  He decided to wait through the weekend and see how he felt.  
This is the sweat stain I discovered when changing the sheets. :(  I guess a new mattress is in our future. 

He felt miserable.  He would sweat so much at night that he would have to get up and change his clothes in the middle of the night because they were soaking wet.  He would be shivering so much it would wake me up.  One night he was so hot he left white hot heat marks on our wooden chair.  Finally on Monday he asked one of his pulmonary docs about it and he ordered all the test.  When the doctor saw Max's chest X-ray, he told him to go home!  He had severe pneumonia and the next day the blood work would show it was Valley Fever.  Max has been on the anti fungal medication since Tuesday.  He worked a half day Thursday and today is the first day in 2 weeks he has been able to work the whole day!

The fever has burned up any body fat Max had (which was practically none).  He is rail thin and looks like a frail and ill patient.  Nurse Katie is on the job!  I am feeding him as much hardy food as I can pack in him and he is not resisting me!  He knows not to mess with me when I go into nurse mode. :)  We love him so much and are so grateful that he is starting to bounce back.  The good news is he has lifelong immunity and can never get it again!  Another major blessing is that Hank was not helping Max.  Typically if  Max is doing yard work Hank is almost always by his side, yet this one time Hank stayed inside with me.  With Hank's asthma I hate to think about what could have happened if he breathed in as many spores as Max did.  Hopefully we are done learning about all the awful parts of the desert and can start enjoying the good parts, like 70s in November.


Anonymous said...

So glad he is feeling better! Grammy

Courtney said...

Wow, that is a nasty infection! So glad he got tested for it and is starting to feel better. Get some meat on those bones Nurse!