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Ethan, Class of 2019.

Ethan is a senior at Grand Haven High School who loves to skate and hang with his friends. I feel like Ethan could totally model, and really knew what he was doing in front of the camera.

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West Nile Virus: The Thorn in My Side

It still feels weird to even say aloud "I have West Nile Virus".

In September of 2017, I was bit by a mosquito in my backyard, and in less than three days I legitimately thought my life was ending.

It was completely impossible for me to walk, I could barely speak, my joints were inflamed, I could not keep liquids or foods down and my fever was hovering around 105 degrees. I remember when Jordan came over he was in a panic when he saw what was happening to me; he was especially freaked out by how hot the base of my neck was. 

When I finally had gotten into the doctors office, my doctor Dr. Caroline Beall, was up for the challenge and not afraid to think outside the box. Side note: I recommend her to everyone I know. It felt like I was in an episode of HOUSE when she said to me, "I'll be right back, I have to contact the CDC"

This period of time when I was in the immediate incubation period of the vicious illness that onsets when you are infected with WNV just seems so surreal. I've been to Africa multiple times, and less than twelve months prior I was STANDING on the WEST BANKS of the Nile River in Uganda, the HOME of West Nile Virus. 

West Nile Virus is extremely strange. There are days where everything hurts, days where I feel like I am on a merry-go-round, days where I am so exhausted, and days where everything is swollen. Thank God, I only had to deal with the worst part of it for a week and then some residual issues. I joined a support group on Facebook, and let me tell you, those people, in that support group, they are the real champions. There are people there that have been BATTLING the serious effects of West Nile Virus for YEARS. People in my support group have lost family members, children, can't walk, have lost all motor function, and some are even unable to ever regain brain function. It's a horrible virus that doctors really have no cure for. 

"About a third of the patients had been hospitalized. A year after their infection, the West Nile patients commonly reported fatigue, memory problems, weakness, headache, joint pain, and balance problems. Half reported poor physical health. Nearly one in four reported depression." Read more here

At first, I did not share my diagnosis with anyone outside of my  immediate family, my roommates, my boss, and my church family. This is actually this first time I have spoke about this in any major capacity outside of sharing it with someone when I have a weird moment. Shoutout to all those people that have had to deal with a "hey, hold on this might take me a second longer" situation. Like one time at work, I fell against the wall and knocked framed art off the wall. Had to laugh about it, and thankful that God has sustained me to find humor in these moments. 

I was doing so good meeting up with a personal trainer every week (her name's Kylee and she trains people at NextLevel. SHE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE). My fitness was on track and I was losing weight. Well, post WNV, losing weight has actually become really difficult, not to mention how I have managed to really pack on the pounds. By posting this, I am asking for prayers for my health journey as I want to be healthy for myself, my family, and for all the adventures God may send me on. 

Thanks for reading, here's to another year of life!