On Saturday morning, I heard Eli wake up, so I dragged myself out of bed, turned off the monitor and walked into his room. He stood up and immediately his face fell. His lower lip quivered and I knew something was wrong. I asked him if he was okay and he sadly said no. I asked him if he wanted to go drink some milk and he said no again. This, combined with the several times I heard him whining in his sleep were a pretty good sign that something was up.
As soon as I picked up his hot little body, I had a sinking feeling about what we were facing. When I changed his diaper later and saw little blisters on his bottom, I was even more sure.
His fever didn’t respond to anything on Saturday, but disappeared overnight, and in its wake was the most miserable version I have ever seen of my child. For hours on Sunday he writhed in pain, laying on my lap, drooling, refusing food, water and just generally being the most pathetic person on the planet. I’m not normally one to rush to the pediatrician for a fever/virus, but seeing how much pain he was in was enough for me to call the doctor for an appointment, especially since we had no idea what hurt.
So we went to the pediatrician, where my gut feeling was confirmed: hand, foot and mouth disease. Which may as well be called hell on earth disease because dear God, it is truly the worst. In Eli’s case, there is not a single spot on his hands or his feet, but instead he has a rash covering his entire bottom, the backs of his thighs and the backs of his calves, which does not seem to bother him at all and isn’t particularly ugly, just unusual. And of course, blisters all over his face and on his soft palate and tonsils.
The pediatrician told us that this was really painful. Like, really painful. And that what we could do was aggressively medicate him. She told us to alternate Motrin and Tylenol with codeine ever 3 hours and to offer whatever food/drink he would eat, regardless of the nutritional value or lack there of. She even told us to let him watch Finding Nemo all day long since that’s the only thing he wanted to do.
And so we did. Sunday night was the absolute worst. Eli went down at 7:30 and woke up at 9 hysterically crying despite being well medicated. He finally went back to bed at 11:30 and then was up at 3, 4:45 and slept on me until 6:45. I have scarcely ever felt so helpless in my life. I literally fed him unlimited ice cream at 10pm, just because it was the only thing that stopped his crying. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Thankfully, things have already started looking up. He’s interested in playing again. He’s eating pretty voraciously (though with lots of wincing). He’s definitely still a little whinier than usual and his face is still pretty yucky, but overall, I could not be more grateful for how quickly this has turned around.
The only thing left in the air is his birthday party, which is on Saturday. The pediatrician we saw told us that he would not be contagious once his fever broke, but the CDC very strongly disagrees with that, and I’m pretty conservative with this kind of thing. It seems that once all the blisters scab over we’re mostly in the clear, you know, so long as people stay out of his diaper, which seems a safe bet at his birthday party. We’re not holding our breath and we’ll cancel if we have to, but hopefully it won’t come to that.
And hopefully, we never have to deal with this virus again. Or if we do, hopefully I can drink heavily during that time.