Perhaps you had a rough Thanksgiving this year. Maybe you disagreed with your family over the outcome of the election, or you sat in slow-moving traffic for hours with whining children, or Aunt Brenda overcooked the damn turkey again.
Well guess what? My kids got hand, foot and frickin’ mouth disease (actual medical name: “hand, foot and f*&king mouth disease) and we spent the holiday in the hospital.
I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. I did plenty of that while eating my Thanksgiving feast of Tic Tacs in the ER. If anyone deserves pity it’s my kids, who spent several days looking like syphilitic sailors from another century.
No, the point of sharing this is more along the lines of: ain’t life just a series of kicks to the nads? I mean, you either laugh or turn into a bitter, whiny jackass. I’m still laughing.
I’ve long held that my children are like used cars a week past their warranty: anything that can go wrong with them will. Over the years they’ve been treated by geneticists, neurologists, oncologists, gastrointestinal specialists, opthalmologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, developmental pediatricians, dermatologists and, of course, speech, physical and feeding therapists. They’ve been on the receiving end of MRIs, MIBG scans, and one colonoscopy, and had surgeries to remove adenoids and insert ear tubes.
The original purpose of this website was to rate the waiting rooms of pediatric specialists in the greater Charlotte area.
My poor daughter has endured the brunt of this medical treatment, and has a frightening knack of not only picking up every virus going around, but getting a monstrous version of it.
Most kids with hand, foot and mouth disease will develop spots and a mild temperature and recover over several days of rest and pushing fluids. My kid came down with a 104-degree fever, vomiting and tremors. She was admitted to the hospital and pumped full of IV fluids and acetaminophen to bring down her fever.
A doctor explained to me that some kids can develop encephalitis, even meningitis from this. Luckily, she didn’t.
Perhaps the hardest part of all this is that we weren’t at home. In a bid to bring some magic to my children’s lives, I took them for a short trip to Disney World. Although not a fan of the rides, they love meeting the characters and the general “Holy crap, it’s Disney World!” atmosphere of the park.
My husband stayed home to work. He says Disney World is fake and plastic-y and for some reason doesn’t like that. Missing out on the holiday is no biggie for him as he is British.
On Thanksgiving morning, my children were going strong in the parks, riding the carousel, exploring the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and hugging Ariel in her grotto, when quite suddenly my daughter ground to a halt. Usually energetic and talkative, she went quiet and lethargic and felt warm to the touch.
I took her to the first aid center in the Magic Kingdom, where the RNs on duty are well schooled in the art of Not Getting Sued. No doubt for liability reasons, they avoid treatment for anything other than scrapes, instead offering to arrange transportation to a hospital or delivery from a pharmacy, if “that’s what you want.”
As someone firmly in the “You’re the medical professional, tell me if I should be panicking” camp, it was frustrating, although I get it. After my daughter rested I opted to take her to the doctor and the rest is medical history.
That night was frightening and long. My son camped out with us in the hospital, as even though my parents were staying at our hotel, he didn’t want to be separated from me.
I finally drifted off to sleep sometime in the early morning, an arm resting on my daughter, the beeps from her monitors ringing in my ears. A few hours must have passed, because I awoke with a start to hear a tiny voice singing a song from the movie Trolls:
I’m not giving up today
There’s nothing getting in my way
And if you knock knock me over
I will get back up again
My daughter sat, hair sticking straight up, lips dry and peeling, looking at me. When she saw I was awake she grinned and croaked “Can I go swimming?”
She was discharged later that day. Her fever came back. We made it home to North Carolina the next day, and then my son came down with a fever. They’re both recovering nicely, pink spots like child acne dotting their faces.
I guess you could say we missed out on the holiday, although that’s no heartbreak for my kids since they hate eating and Thanksgiving is, for the most part, about food. It does leave me worried for the upcoming holiday.
See, all bad things come in threes and my daughter has a terrible track record. For Easter she got bronchitis. At Thanksgiving it was hand, foot and mouth disease. What’s next for Christmas? She’ll explode?