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The long version: Mononucleosis is the acute version of Epstein Barr Virus. However, while mono lasts for a few months, no one really knows how long EBV lasts. Most everyone has been infected with EBV at some point in their lives. At the time it likely manifested as a wicked cold. However, for some bizarre reason it becomes “active” again in certain people. I’ve found it hard to get consistent, useful information on it from doctors and the interweb, which I think is because it’s a bit mysterious. My understanding is that it’s from the murky family of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However unlike CFS, which has a ton of symptoms and which they cannot really test for, there is a test for EBV.
What is it like? On good days you feel pretty normal, on bad days it’s like the first day of the flu (though you never actually get sick) and its heinously unpredictable. I think the worst part about it is all the time that’s lost of sleeping that could be spent building life size replicas of biplanes out of candy canes or the like.
Is there NOTHING you can do? As I said, there’s no real treatment for it, but people still try lots of things. What I have found helps me is having a good diet (avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and possibly dairy and wheat if you can stand it, increase your daily intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes etc times infinity), exercise when you can, be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do everything you used to be able to (and still want to) do. I also find that reading comics in the bathtub while eating peanut butter and banana on toast is key to improving one’s health.