In September of 2020 Jennifer came down with a serious illness. Naturally she assumed she had COVID, but repeated tests kept coming back negative. Her illness lasted an entire month, and she didn’t return to full health afterwards. She continued to have extreme fatigue, body aches, sore throat and headache. Jennifer went to doctor after doctor, none of which were willing to help. She started doubting her own experience of illness after repeated medical gaslighting, even as her symptoms persisted. Eventually she found a neurologist willing to listen, who diagnosed her with reactivation of the Epstein Barr virus and subsequent post viral illness. Although Epstein Barr is an extremely common virus that often presents without serious symptoms or complications, there is a growing body of evidence linking it to long term disease such as myalgic encephalomyelitis (more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome). Frustratingly, just as Jennifer was beginning to heal from one viral infection, she contracted COVID-19 and developed long COVID.

In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Jennifer shares her experiences with back to back post viral illnesses and her subsequent recovery. Jennifer also has two preexisting conditions, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease. Although both conditions had been under control for years, contracting post viral illness made Jennifer re-evaluate their impact on her overall health. She discusses the difficulty of raising two children inside protracted illness, when normal activities proved exponentially harder. Her approach to recovery included pacing, managing stress and incorporating movement every day. Just weeks before recording this interview Jennifer finally crawled out of being chronically ill, a year and a half after her initial Epstein Barr reactivation. Although she does not know why her illness suddenly lifted, she is more grateful than ever for good health.

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