Ross River Virus – My Story

ross-river-virus“Ouch – you mongrel,” I grumbled as I squashed the mosquito sucking on the blood in my arm. “Hope that doesn’t give me Ross River Virus”.  I didn’t give it another thought. That was at the end of August 2017, after some big rains in my hometown of Bungadoo in Queensland, Australia.

28 days later

I am so tired all the time, but I don’t know why. My days are not hectic, in fact, I am slowly fitting much less into every day. I find myself guiltily stealing a ‘nanna nap’ each afternoon.

Day 35 – Why do my arms feel so heavy? I seem to be having trouble doing normal everyday tasks like hanging out the washing, or anything that requires strength and/or lifting. Is it all in my head? Am I imagining this general malaise and body weakness? Try as I might, I cannot connect this to any of my recent activities.

Day 49 – I am really pushing myself to carry out a normal day now. I start complaining to hubby that all my joints are sore, particularly my wrists and fingers. He off-handedly states that I would have RSI from all the computer work I do (blog writing).

Day 50 – I decide to go to the Doctor. I am thinking I may have arthritis. No longer am I able to wear my wedding ring or any ring for that matter. My fingers have swollen to double thickness, my wrists are useless and extremely painful. My arms won’t lift at all. My knees and ankles are aching constantly. All my body aches. There must be something terribly wrong with me. The doctor takes blood tests and X-rays of my hands.

Day 55– Results are in from the blood tests. Not only am I positive to Ross River Virus at present, it appears this is the second time I have contracted it. I can’t ever remember feeling like this before, but of course, I am much older now (60). Results have been submitted to a special registry for RRV. The doctor suggests plenty of rest and Panadol. WTF? Is that all you can do for me?

Day 65 – This is ridiculous. I can’t shower or dress without help. The husband must cut up my steak at dinner. Any ideas of lifting my arms for whatever reason is no longer contemplated. Sometimes I can walk when my knees and ankles are feeling ok. It seems to be affecting my smaller joints like my fingers and wrists. And what is this rash on my leg?

Day 70 – The rash has spread to both legs and both elbows. Very itchy. Not at all pleasant. Raised and round, at first I thought it was ringworm, then psoriasis, and after some research, realized it was another symptom of the Ross River Virus. I am now taking 2 Panadol osteo tablets every four hours, including at night, as the pain will not go away. I can do about as much as a crippled 88-year-old.

Day 75 – No wonder people get depressed when suffering from this debilitating virus. It just goes on and on. Everyone knows someone who had it – a relative or friend – and can tell you all sorts of horror stories. One lady told me that she had to feed her husband for the first 3 months and that he suffered for a whole year before being able to return to a normal life.

Day 80 – I think I need to see the doctor again. The Panadol is not killing the pain in my wrists and arms. Time to do more research and truly see what I am up against. It has been suggested to me to take high doses of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C in powder form). My sister bought me a tube of Voltaren Gel – a topical anti-inflammatory cream popular with arthritis sufferers. It gives relief for a short time.

Day 85 – I think the vitamin C might be working. I take a heaped teaspoon in a glass of juice daily. The pain is still there, but the fingers are not quite so swollen. The gel is good to use in the morning. It gives quick relief – just enough to enable me to do the morning routine of dressing and toilet. I have a new respect and empathy for all those who suffer arthritis.

Day 90 – Research on the internet reveals not much can be done for Ross River Virus. No blogs about people’s experiences or forums to find fellow sufferers (their fingers won’t work!). I have discovered that there is a drug that can cure Ross River Virus but it won’t be available until 2018. It is called Pentosan Polysulphate Sodium (PPS) and is currently used for the treatment of bladder infections such as cystitis. Apparently, you can be currently treated with this drug under TGA – Special Access Scheme. This drug is considered a cure for Ross River Virus as it prevents the deterioration of the cartilages which this virus creates. I am realizing that there will be residual effects from this virus, like the destruction of cartilage.

Day 95 – Today is a good day.  I had a great sleep, I can stretch out my fingers a little, so they don’t look like claws. No pain in the legs, what a blessing. The rash has spread to my feet though. The rashes on my legs are round, raised and red, whereas the rashes on my feet and elbows are dry and scaly. Chickweed cream seems to help the dry and scaly rashes.

Day 100– Some days are better than others. I have sought alternative treatments because GP’s are decidedly lacking. I received conflicting advice from 2 different doctors. I really do not think they know very much about this virus at all. One treatment of scenar therapy gave a lot of relief to my left arm, which I am now able to use more frequently. I have booked in for more treatments and am following the advice of my therapist – keep hydrated (Hydrolite), keep warm (recovery blanket), juice up lots of greens (sweeten with fruit), take probiotics (for the rash) and take Advil for the pain.

Author/Sufferer – Pauline Bos