Mystery illnesses plague millions of people. Researchers found a link between the childhood kissing disease mono and these unexplained illnesses.
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Kelly Deushane’s dining room table is piled high with books, most touting beneficial, healing diets. There are manila folders filled with medical files. Those folders sit alongside stacks of meticulously detailed scrapbooks. To page through them is to see a young woman, driven to become a television journalist. Headshots from her TV career give way to photos of her with her young husband. Later scrapbooks capture the typical life of an American family — replete with trips to Disney World and fun times at home. Kelly is the wife of 11Alive General Manager John Deushane.
But a closer look at one page featuring a smiling Kelly shows an IV coming out of her arm. It’s one of the few signs to an outsider that hint at a life filled with a struggle, a constant battle to be well.
“I just didn’t want to be the whiner, the person who didn’t want to do anything ever, the person who needs so much sleep, the person who has the odd diet. You just feel high maintenance.”
Photos | Kelly Deushane struggled with mystery illness for decades
Kelly was the one who got sick on every family vacation, the one who suffered through years of sinus problems that required surgery, only to wind up with a serious infection of her sinus bone. Among her many illnesses were digestive and bladder issues, a false diagnosis of Scleroderma, and a diagnosis of Celiac disease. She caught the mild head colds her two daughters brought home from school, but for Kelly they were intense and prolonged. “Anything anyone ever brought home I would always get it harder and longer. You start feeling like a hypochondriac because you have all these weird things happening that you can’t really point to and no one can see.”
No place was safe. One day she pricked her finger on one of her rose bushes. She got “something called Rose Gardener’s Disease which required two surgeries and months of therapy and my finger still only goes like this,” she says, holding up her hand to display a finger that will no longer straighten.
She spends part of her day helping to care for her seven month old grandbaby, Elsie Kate, whose entrance to daycare was delayed to help protect her grandmother from germs.
Over three decades, Kelly has seen countless doctors for each seemingly disconnected illness. It was just this year that she read about mono, how for some people it can come back, wrecking their health.
Kelly had gotten mono when she was a 19 year old college student. She was sick for weeks and had to leave school and go home to get better. “I just remember being so insanely tired. I also had strep throat with it.”
She thought she recovered from it.
“Never in a hundred years did I ever think all of this was connected back to mono.” But earlier this year she read about Epstein Barr, the mono virus, and how it can come back and affect health in a myriad of ways. She asked her functional medicine doctor to do the blood test for mono. She was stunned by the results.
“The typical levels of a dormant Epstein Barr Virus is 0 to 20, and here I was over 600. So clearly this virus had been thriving and surviving for over 30 years in my body.”
Kelly and her doctor consulted with Doctor Henry H. Balfour Jr. at the University of Minnesota. Balfour is one of the foremost world experts on mono and is leading a team that has developed a mono vaccine that could be used in human trials as early as next year.
“Epstein Barr Virus, the cause of mono, was discovered in 1964 and yet here we are many decades later without a vaccine, and I think the reason for that is that people do not appreciate first of all how significant mono can be.”