A word of warning for the squeamish, this piece has a considerable amount of detail, in all of its grossness.
I never knew how big a part I could play in the life of my 15-month-old daughter as I am currently experiencing. You see, we are both currently going through a bout of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.
I never knew the early signs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Now I do. Although it is uncommon for adults to contract Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, it does happen on rare occasion. My GP, who has been practicing for over 20 years had never seen a case in an adult.
The first indication that I had contracted anything at all was when I suddenly broke into a fever. The fever escalated from absolutely nothing to profuse sweating and shivering. Then came the throbbing headache and sinus pressure.
I slept with my electric blanket on its highest setting for 11 hours.
I have suffered migraines in the past. This was on a par, if not worse than that.
The next day, I woke with a strange, furry taste in my mouth. I then noticed my tongue seemed numb. I looked in the mirror and saw the reddest throat I have ever had. And plenty of white spots on my tonsils, too.
My daughter was being a little extra clingy, which I assumed was due to her teething, and nothing else.
Spots… Spots everywhere
Then we saw a spot on her hand. Another on her lip. So small you could miss it. A few hours later, I had an itch in the palm of my hand. I looked, and there was a spot.
A visit to the doctor confirmed the worst. As the spots are the most obvious sign of this virus, I should probably tell you what they feel like.
The spots are mildly itchy to start with. No big deal. But they hurt to touch. Even just a little bit. Even the sensation of blowing cold air onto them seems strangely amplified.
The spots are also not friends with warm water. Although you might think that a nice warm bath would help to soothe the discomfort, the spots are sensitive to temperature.
The spots on my face seemed different. My face felt incredibly dry, cracked and tight, like I have left a mud mask on for a few hours. Smiling, blinking and even chewing hurt.
Swallowing anything at all is painful.
Bread, water, soup. It all felt like razor blades. I made a peanut butter sandwich on multigrain and was close to tears by the end. Plain old tap water had similar results.
If you were wondering why your child lost their appetite, this should explain it.
It gets worse before it gets better
The lumps on my feet were so sensitive that they woke me up. I then tried to yawn, and realised my face was so tight that I could only open my mouth about 3-5cm before things started to crack and cause pain.
Looking in the mirror, my heart dropped. My face was covered in spots, lumps and legions. Some of my grossness had seemingly burst through the night, causing it to crust onto my face and make my skin feel even tighter.
My hands became even more sensitive, almost like they have suffered severe sunburn with a touch of pins and needles.
By the end of the third day, things got better – slightly
I noticed that my hands were less sensitive than earlier. Those pesky spots were still there, and a few new ones.
The legions on my face were visibly dried, and some are able to be gently peeled (gross, I know… but so satisfying!)
My throat still looked like a war-zone, but oddly, did not hurt. I had a slight cough, but most of the discomfort had passed by this stage.
I do agree with childcare not allowing the child back for a week. The less people to be subjected to this, the better!
Over a week after things had subsided, my fingers and toes were still feeling numb and tingly. Later that day, one finger got itchy, then another. The skin practically fell off each of my fingers. My feet decided to join in the fun a few days later, making walking very painful.
A month or so after this ordeal my fingernails became itchy. Without warning, a fingernail simply fell off. Strangely, there was already a new fingernail under the old one, albeit thinner and very sensitive.
Within the space of two hours, all ten fingernails had fallen off. Later that night, my toenails followed suit.
I still shudder every single time that an email arrives from childcare “There has been a confirmed case of Hand Foot and Mouth…” Surely I can not be THAT unlucky? Can I?
Parents – we’re always learning. Read about the recommended ages for booster seats in your car. It’s not what you’d expect!