I define the “ACUTE PHASE” as the first ~11 or so days of the virus. Here is where I begin documenting my symptoms day by day, starting with Day 1 of symptoms.
When my husband and I were coming up with plans for the 4th of July this year, we decided to leave the country contrary to the norm. We are the truest of patriots. We were both under immense stress (me from work, him from school), so we decided to go for one of the lie-on-a-beach-and-do-absolutely-nothing vacations. Sun? Check. Pool bar? Check. We had been to Turks and Caicos in 2011 and absolutely loved it, so we stayed on the exact same part of the island in the exact hotel that we had before. It was a truly fantastic vacation, sunny every day, and we spent all of our time outside between boat trips, beach time, and walks along the long Grace Bay beach. We ate every meal outdoors, sipped drinks outdoors, and even watched the the Netharlands spank Costa Rica in penalties during the World Cup on a TV that was outside (Hup Holland Hup!). It was an outdoor paradise.
We were incredibly OCD about putting on mosquito repellent throughout the trip since we had read about some mosquito virus (which we didn’t know the name of) spreading in the Caribbean in the news before the trip. We brought “Off! Active” with us, which contains 15% deet according to the spray bottle. We applied this daily at dusk, but during the day we did not normally wear it since we didn’t seem to get bitten. At night, however, we still got bitten despite having this stuff on (we could see the mosquitos landing on us despite the Off!), so I came home with roughly 10 bites total. According to some of the research I’ve done, the mosquito which transmits chikungunya bites during the day. That said, I do not have any specific recollection of getting bitten during the day, but I suppose there is a lag time between when the mosquito bites and when the bite starts to itch. I thus have no idea when the bite occurred that transmitted the virus to me, but I don’t have any specific recollection of daytime mosquito bites.
Anyway, we were there from July 2nd through July 9th (2014), which was a Wednesday to a Wednesday. I took the following Thurs/Fri off from work because I had the vacation time and if I don’t use it, I lose it. The day after we returned home, Thursday, I went straight back into my gym routine after a week off in the Caribbean. I wound up deadlifting to a point that was close to a personal record despite the time off, and I did a number of assisted pull-ups. I did kettlebell swings, rope slams, and tons of foam rolling. It was a workout where I really pushed myself to the edge, but I appropriately warmed up and cooled down.
The day after, Friday, my body was tired from working out and I had plans in the city. It was a big day of walking around in the city and I felt great. In the evening I went home and had dinner with my husband. We relaxed and drank a bottle of wine between the two of us.
Day 1 of symptoms – Saturday, July 12th
The following day, Saturday, I woke up with a strange pain in my left middle finger that I noticed before I got out of bed. The middle joint of the finger was really sore when I opened/closed my fist. It was not swollen. Once I got out of bed and put my feet on the ground, I noticed that my ankles were sore, too. It felt like the pain radiated to the sides of my feet from the ankles, and it would be a screaming pain if I rolled to the outer edges of my feet (as if I was balancing on the outside of my shoes). It was painful to walk, but it wasn’t painful enough that it affected my mobility too much. I dismissed this joint pain pretty quickly and blamed it on the deadlifts. Sometimes I get weird pains after workouts. I got up and walked around the house like a discombobulated crouching tiger in pain. (Although I wore this pain like a badge of honor, thinking that it was caused by pushing myself so hard in the workout the day before.)
Once I got up and started moving around, I noticed that my shoulders and back were incredibly stiff, both the muscles and the joints. WAY more stiff than after a normal workout. I got up, took a shower, and moved around the house, which usually helps muscle soreness from the gym. This did not help me at all, in fact, it got worse and more intense as the day went on. I tried foam rolling and using a lacrosse ball to roll out the most sore areas in my shoulders and back. This did help a little bit. The pain in my back was mostly concentrated on the upper back and shoulder area, but there was pain in my lower back that quite possibly was from the deadlift. I’m always sore in my back after deadlifting. Both shoulders were sore, but the right shoulder was worse.
Over the course of the day, the hand pain spread to the rest of my left hand (all finger joints except my thumbs), and became pretty painful. I dismissed this pretty quickly, thinking the pull-ups caused this.
On this first day I also felt an intense headache-like pain behind my eyes that started in the morning and progressively got worse as the day went on. The way I described it to my husband was “a headache that’s only right behind my eyes.” I had never experienced a headache like this before, so I took a couple of Advil. I’m a really stubborn person, so it takes a lot of pain for me to take something. I thought it was dehydration from both the workout the day before and the bottle of wine we drank the night before. I also felt a little nauseous and had absolutely no appetite, which I thought may have been a result of the headache. A lack of appetite is odd for me, because I am normally a proud foodie with a strong sweet tooth.
That day we so happened to be painting one of the rooms in our house. I had gone to the store to buy paint brushes and help out. I was mobile enough to leave the house and accomplish what I needed to do, but looked like a jackass because of the stiff way I was walking throughout the hardware store. By late afternoon, the pain behind my eyes and the pain in my shoulders, hands, and ankles was so bad that I had to lie down and could no longer help paint. Note that I also had glute muscle soreness because of the workout (typical for deadlifting/kettlebells/rope slams 2 days after working out). My muscles and joints were a full blown mess, and the pain signals were confusing. I was limping around and walking really stiffly all day. I especially had trouble getting up from sitting down because of my back, my glutes (from the workout) my ankles, and my shoulders.
Later that night my husband and I watched a movie, and I was very cold, bundled a blanket with pants and long sleeves while my husband had shorts and a t-shirt on. I felt pretty unwell and tired about half way through the movie, so I decided to go to bed early and skip the end of the movie. Once I got up into bed, I had multiple layers of clothes on, and I started to violently shake with chills. I knew at this point that I had a fever, but our thermometer ran out of batteries (mercury ones really are the most reliable), so I don’t know what the temperature at this point actually was. I knew it was a fever because when my husband cuddled me to warm me up and stop the shivers, he felt cold(er than me), when he normally feels really warm in comparison to me.
Once I lied there with chills, sore joints, and a horrible eye pain, I laid there in bed unable to sleep. I knew at this point that there was something seriously wrong with me. My husband had fallen asleep, but this particular moment was the only time throughout the illness where I thought to myself, “am I going to live through the night?” I felt terrible, but thought I was being slightly over-dramatic. I knew there was something wrong with me, but had absolutely no will to go anywhere, and didn’t think that on paper it was serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER. After a couple of hours of chills and general fidgety-ness, I fell asleep and stayed asleep until the next morning.