Recently I had the misfortune of being introduced to our first official “extremely contagious virus.” I was home schooled for the majority of my early education, thus missing out on most of the typical illnesses that spread through schools. I never had chicken pox, lice and had certainly never heard of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease … until now.
Our oldest son James recently started preschool. About a week after the first day, I noticed some odd blisters on his younger brother’s legs. We have been plagued by mosquitoes so I didn’t think much of the odd bumps and just assumed they were bites. But then Luke started acting lethargic and one morning woke up with a high fever, which lasted about three days.
On one of those days, after tirelessly snuggling and consoling this pitiful little 2-year-old, I was holding him in our kitchen when he puked all over the floor. Then, like in a slow motion horror movie scene (as my husband humorously recalls), he turned and puked all over me. Gotta love parenting! Like a typical mom, I didn’t think much of it but just took the poor guy up to hose him, and myself, off in the bath tub. By the next day his fever was gone and he seemed much better, but he had even more little blisters on his hands.
That same night, big brother James was up with a high fever and complaining of a sore throat. The following day I texted a friend and explained how odd the bumps on Luke’s hands were. She wrote back, “Hand Foot Mouth??” Of course, one quick Google search and I was certain that’s what it was. All the symptoms lined up. I was mortified that I had been sending James to school, and was certain that he now had it and had probably infected the whole class.
E-mails started coming in that yes, in fact, multiple children in his class were being diagnosed with HFMD. There goes my “Mother of the Year” award! Obliviously I had sent my infected kid to school, and felt horrible about it. To be safe, I took Luke into the doctor who confirmed that all the blisters and other symptoms did point to HFMD, and that’s probably what James had as well. The pediatrician’s sympathetic pats on my shoulder and comment of “welcome to school, mama” didn’t help ease my guilt.
James got over the fever quickly. His sore throat was the only trace of the blisters, unlike his little brother who had them all over his hands, legs, feet and inside his mouth. Some popsicles and lots of cold drinks seemed to do the trick for James, and he was back to normal in about two days.
I thought we were past the worst of it, when one afternoon I suddenly became very feverish. I proceeded to spend the next three days the sickest I’ve ever been! To my dismay, the blisters showed up on my hands and feet, as well as in my throat and I had the most horrible sore throat. I was hardly able to swallow. Luckily there were some popsicles leftover in the freezer.
Apparently getting puked on by a kid with HFMD pretty much guarantees you’re going to get it too.
Welcome to school. Bring on the obsessive hand washing!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.