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A Surgeon Gets Infected With West Nile Virus And Tells His Story

Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:32am
Don Read, M.D.

I will never be normal like I was before I got sick. I couldn’t run if it was an emergency. I cannot ride a bicycle, although I can sort of halfway dance with my wife. I can’t carry my grandchildren up the stairs.

I am never sick. I was a perfectly healthy surgeon, working 88.7 hours a week on average. I had missed only four days of work from illness in my 27 years of practice until a mosquito bit me seven years ago.  A few days later, on a Tuesday, I was unusually exhausted after performing a colon operation, so I went home and went to bed.

The next morning, I only had a low-grade fever, but I had terrible muscle aches all over. I felt like I was going to die. I thought that if I didn’t feel better soon, I would have to go to the emergency room. Fortunately, I starting feeling a little better, so I went to work and did several colonoscopies, after which I had to go home and go back to bed. I cancelled all my office patients for the next two days. I felt as though I was carrying a backpack with 1,000 pounds of bricks in it.

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