This past weekend I had to admit myself to Beth Israel (BIDMC) because I contracted viral meningitis (again). For those unfamiliar, meningitis is a relatively rare infection that affects the delicate membranes called meninges (men-in'-jeez). These membranes cover the brain and spinal cord; generally the only way to confirm one has meningitis is to have a lumbar puncture more commonly referred to as a spinal tap.
Viral meningitis (the variety I seem prone to) is more common than the bacterial form and generally less serious. The really frustrating part of contracting this is that it really knocks the wind out of me and that doctors cannot seem to identify why I seem so susceptible.
I first contracted meningitis about 10 years ago. That first instance was the most excruciating of the four probably in part because I thought I was suffering a migraine and delayed going to the hospital to get treatment. Many of the symptoms used to describe meningitis sound similar to a migraine and since I never suffered headaches - I just assumed that was what I had. I did not have another episode until Memorial Day Weekend 2009; I wrote about it in my entry, Thank goodness for Percoset. Because of my previous episode, I was able to more quickly self-diagnose and get to a hospital to receive treatment. Approximately 16-months later (September 2010), I contracted meningitis for the third time. I wrote about my frustration in my entry, Meningitis (again). However, I have to admit I was completely taken by surprise with this latest episode occurring seven weeks later.
Unfortunately, the doctors are no closer to figuring out why I'm so susceptible. I've always been quite a healthy person so these episodes definitely shake my own confidence. I try to live a fairly healthy life by working out regularly with a personal trainer, eating (relatively) healthy, and getting sufficient rest. On this most recent visit, I requested that the doctor extract extra spinal fluid from my lumbar puncture to allow them plenty to run tests. We'll see what happens and if any test results come back conclusive. I have to schedule a follow up with my primary care physician and am going to request to see if a specialist will be able to help crack this seeming conundrum.