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Given Antibiotics First: Sheila Lake, Bakersfield, 62

"Valley fever is just awful," says Sheila Lake, 62, of Bakersfield.

I had valley fever in 1992 and my husband had it when he was in high school in 1966. When I had it, it was awful. It started when I bent over to pick up my purse at a restaurant. Something caught in my rib cage. I had to put my head between my lap since I couldn’t catch my breath. Several days later, I couldn’t breathe again and I had back pain.

I went to my regular doctor in Bakersfield who suspected pneumonia and put me on antibiotics. The cough kept developing though, and fatigue kept me from going anywhere. I had a rash over my upper body. I went to the coast for the weekend and had a 102 degree fever on the drive home. That Monday, I could barely move. I coughed all night long. I went to the doctor, who admitted me to the hospital, where I tested positive for valley fever. I was on anti-fungals for three months.

When my husband had it at age 18, he also had extreme fatigue. He couldn’t do anything, and missed three months of school. Valley fever is just awful.

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