Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Incapacitated Mum: Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

I've just gotten over the most pain filled week of my life so far. By day 4 I was wishing that I was in Labour because it would have hurt less. And on top of all that I wasn't even struck down with a respectful debilitating ailment like Chicken Pox or Measles or Plague... no I had what all the medical sites classed as "mild", "non serious" and "common childhood illness" Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. With descriptions like that, how bad could it be right? WRONG! Pull up a blanket kiddies... it's horror story time.

It all started on a Thursday (Day 0) I woke up feeling a little bit unsettled after a really restless night. Throat dry head foggy. I figured I was coming down with something so I took the day of work to nip it in the bud. The Little Man was in Daycare that day so I could have a bit of rest time and hopefully avoid anything major.

Day 1: The Beginning of the End

Friday dawned and I wasn't feeling any better but I already had taken Thursday off so I dragged myself into work. I had this floaty feeling and a headache that wouldn't quit until a colleague took pity on me and gave me 2 ibuprofen. That got me through 2 meetings and one report which I was working on. On top of that the heat wasn't working in our part of the office and I thought I'd never feel warm again. At around 4pm I decided that enough was enough and it was time to go home. Unfortunately I had the car so I had to drive into the city to pick up Hubby, who consented to leave work early since I didn't want to go home and come out again. Along the way I started getting shivers while Hubby took over and drove home.

Back home he put me to bed with a hot wheat pack, central heating and a space heater and layers of covers and I still couldn't keep warm. All while running a 39 degree fever.

Day 2: It's got to be Strep!

On Saturday, I woke up with a horrible sore throat. Unfortunately, since moving to Melbourne I have yet to find a GP who I actually trust to know more than I do. I grew up having an amazing GP who treated every ailment I ever suffered for the first 21 years of my life and so far no one even compares. So I don't usually go to the doctor but with the redness and spots in my throat and the intense pain I decided there was nothing for it but to go to the doctor and get a prescription for Antibiotics for what I was sure was a Strep throat. The doctor agreed and I was on amoxycillin.

After getting my antibiotics I didn't feel any better physically but mentally I started counting down the hours till I would feel better. Then my hands started to hurt....

Day 3: Whats with all the paper cuts!

Towards the end of Saturday and the beginning of Sunday I started to feel like I was getting paper cuts all over my hands. It hurt to clench my hands into fists like my skin was too tight. My delicately soft hands (a product of avoiding any extraneous housework wherever possible) were rough and bumpy. But all as uncomfortable as my hands felt it was absolutely nothing compared to the pain in my throat and my ears. Every swallow was agony. My ears felt like I had ice picks being shoved into them and my throat felt like I was swallowing fire. Things started to get a little unbearable so as much as it hurt to do so, I started to take paracetamol.

All this time The Little Man was still nursing, so I was trying to avoid the harsher painkillers. That didn't last long. By the end of the day I was on 2 ibuprofen and 2 paracetamol every 4 hours. That just took the edge off the pain but I still couldn't do much other than lie in bed and try to imagine myself in a happy place.

Day 4: This cannot be Strep!

There was no way Hubby was going to be able to go to work on Monday because I was a groaning ball of pain. The Little Man seemed unaffected by my illness except maybe wanting to nurse a lot more than usual but that might have just been me not really wanting to feed him. By this time I hadn't had anything to eat for about 2 days and a sneaking suspicion that what I was suffering from was not Strep. The pain was getting so bad that I couldn't talk and was desperate for anything that would give me any relief. So it was back to the doctor. She confirmed what Hubby and I already suspected. Hand Foot and Mouth Disease and there was nothing they could do about it. No medicine, no elixir, no potion, no shot... it was my immune system and the virus one on one.

When we got home, Hubby forced me to take a Ibuprofen with Codine tablet and proceeded to keep The Little Man distracted enough with food and cartoons so that he wouldn't want a nurse for the rest of the day.

Day 5: I'm not going to make it. Tell my son I love him

Facebook Post: Still want to crawl into gutter and die...but will likely be followed there by ravenous child looking to nurse some more. On bright side have dropped 4.5kg. If I survive I'll look fabulous. come to think of it if I don't I'll still look fabulous.
By this time I hadn't eaten anything at all for 3 days. And was only drinking as much water as it would take to down painkillers and the antibiotics which I still had to take since I already started the course. My ears and throat were stinging in continuous pain. I wanted to cry and yell but that hurt too much to do.

Day 6:   Still a lot of pain.

Still no food. I had stopped talking completely and communicated to hubby using Text messages. Even ill I am the fastest swyper I know on the Samsung Galaxy's keypad ;-) The Little Man was still ravenously nursing (he's going through a stage where we can't feed him enough) so I had to time the painkillers so he wouldn't nurse within 6 hours of when I had last taken any. This accounts for the rapid weight loss. To be honest I was half hoping that he would take the opportunity to self wean but he's stubborn. On the bright side he was in close quarters to me all the time and didn't catch hand foot and mouth disease. Probably because he was siphoning off all my immunity.

Day 7: I may yet live!

Hubby could go back to work because it was my usual work day and The Little Man was off to Daycare. I stayed home because I still wasn't able to talk without pain and due to not eating for 5 days I feeling pretty weak and didn't think I would make it through an entire day at work. Also I was starting to feel better and the pain in my ears was easing off a little bit. That night I had a cup of soup.

Day 8: I'm alive.... Alive!!!!!

It was the first time I managed to get to sleep through the night without having to get up in the middle of the night to take painkillers. That morning I managed a bit of scrambled eggs that Hubby made before going off to work and taking the Little Man to Daycare.

 I finally felt decidedly human again. And on the plus side I was 5.5kg lighter and could actually enjoy having the day off to just rest up and watch movies on the TV.

All in all it's not an experience I want to repeat. The Doctor did say that like most childhood diseases like Chicken Pox and Measles, it does tend to hit a lot harder if you get it as an adult. I'm so glad that The Little Man didn't get it. That was one of the main reasons I continued to breastfeed him through my illness even though I really would have preferred to be left alone to suffer in peace. The added immunity must have worked because he came out of all of that without so much as a mild reaction.

1 comment:

  1. OMG - that sounds like you had a really nasty dose. I had HFM last year, when my little boy had it. I had it worse than him (he seems to get really mild doses of everything) but other than feeling a bit off, my main symptom was the pain in my hands & feet. At the time I described it as extreme pins & needles, but I love your paper cut description!