I’ve had a bit of a blogging break recently. I’ve still been pretty active over on Instagram but I haven’t really had any motivation to write recently and it all began a few weeks ago when my toddler gave me hand, foot and mouth.
It started with a bit of a fever. I seem to be quite a sickly person anyway so I always have coughs, colds and I suffer with recurrent tonsillitis so I generally feel a bit rubbish most of the time however this isn’t the norm for my toddler. She seemed fine in herself, maybe a little off her food but toddlers are mental and can devour six sandwiches and ask for more one day and lick a grape and claim they are full the next day so you know, for me the appetite thing wasn’t really a ‘sign’.
Anyway, I had noticed when I went in to check on her during the night that she was really warm. Truth be told she is a pretty sweaty sleeper on a normal day but I swapped her quilt over for the lighter one and just put it down to a warmer night. The next day, I noticed she had a bit of a scab around her mouth. For a second I thought maybe it was impetigo or something similar, but then a few little blister like spots appeared on her shoulder and bum. The scabs on her face seemed to multiply until she had a reasonable cluster of them under her bottom lip. I sent a photo of them to my husband who was at work and let him know I thought we may have the dreaded pox. I decided to put her in bed with me that night in case she felt ill and off I went to bed, blissfully ignorant of the hell that was to come.
I work up very, very hot. I have never had a fever like that in my life. My throat felt like it was on fire, I was coughing and spluttering and then came the chills. I was so hot at some points I was somewhat delirious, it sounds dramatic but honestly I have never been so ill in all my life. The chills that accompanied the fever were so violent I kept waking my daughter up and I could barely move to go to the bathroom or get water. I text my husband who is a nights-worker to ask him to try and come home but I don’t think he quite understood how ill I really was and he didn’t manage to get away.
I think I lay awake burning up all night, I certainly don’t remember getting any sleep anyway. My husband came home, took one look at me and declared that yes, I had a fever and took himself off to bed. Then I had to get up with my toddler at 6am and start our day. Any parent who has had to keep a small human alive whilst barely functioning will know this is no easy task. I managed to get through the morning until my husband got up and slept for a few hours until he had to go back to work again. My next door neighbour popped to the door at one point and recognised that it looked more like HF&M (hand, foot and mouth) than chicken pox and after much research (Dr Google) it appears she was correct. We all came down with that telltale spotty rash on our hands and feet later that evening. I had always thought HF&M was something livestock got, I vaguely remember news stories when I was a kid where loads of them had to be burnt and it was horrible!
All the while, Isabelle was spotty, scabby and had the worst breath I’ve ever smelled and yet was annoyingly chipper. She was more hyper than ever I think actually. I was already on antibiotics at this point as I was battling a bout of tonsillitis and having HF&M really did knock me for six. Then just as we were getting better, my poor husband got it. He got the worst scabs/spots of all of us bless him but at least he got to stay in bed and sleep it off without having to parent! Apparently there is nothing you can take for it either, you just have to let it run it’s course.
Turns out, even a few weeks after getting better the illness doesn’t really leave you. We all have hands and feet that are peeling (so gross) and the internet informs me I could potentially lose fingernails/toenails as well. Oh the joy. Once your kids start interacting with others at nursery and school all of a sudden your house becomes a Petri dish of infection and I’m sure I still have pox, nits and many other horrible childhood illnesses to look forward to!
So just to round up, in case you have stumbled across this in search of advice. Our symptoms were:
- Slight loss of appetite for my toddler and a complete loss for me for a few days
- A fever, I believe mine was 39.2 before I actually realised I had HF&M. I had my temperature taken the day before the awful fever night when I thought I was just ill with tonsillitis. Goodness knows what it was during the night that followed.
- Scabs/blisters. They looked like I would expect chicken pox to look. I had scabs on my nose and around my mouth, Isabelle had scabs on her mouth and blisters covering most of her body.
- The rash developed after a day or two and was like very faint spots on our hands and feet that got very dry and then disappeared.
- Two weeks later, our hands and feet have started peeling. Like you would expect after a nasty bit of sunburn, leaving new skin underneath. No pain there, it’s just gross and annoying.
Apparently HF&M is super contagious but, like chicken pox, it is contagious before you even know you’ve got it so I would say avoid people once you know for sure but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. From what I’ve read it’s not harmful in pregnancy or anything like that either, but it is pretty nasty so like I said just avoid spreading it as much as possible!
Obviously I am in no way a medical professional (NHS Advice here) but I just wanted to share our experience as this was an illness I didn’t know anything about and didn’t recognise and I have noticed there have been a few articles in the news about it in the past month or so, so it could be making a bit of a comeback.
Isn’t parenting fun.