This week’s adventure: HFMD

It’s every working parent’s nightmare: trotting into daycare to pick up your child and the dreaded sick child alert sign is posted outside the door.

As of this date, there has been one confirmed case of the grossest/most miserable/longest lingering illness you can imagine. You’ve been warned.

You shudder, hold your breath, and try to get your kid out of that cesspool as soon as possible. Even though in the back of your mind, you know it’s a lost cause. Those little muggles have already been exposed long before a diagnosis is made, so it’s just a waiting game to see who becomes infected next.

Enter, Hand, Foot and Mouth. A wonderful name for such a disgustingly contagious virus. I like it – it clearly spells out the affected areas for an easy diagnosis. That is, unless you’re my child.

It started a little over a week ago. Woke up one morning and my son had a small rash of little red dots on his tummy. They must have been bothering him during the night because it was evident he had been scratching. Oh joy. He’s had a rash before when he’s caught random viruses, so I knew something was coming. No sign had been posted yet at daycare, so I was blissfully unaware of what was incubating in that tiny body.

Last week carried on and the rash lingered, accompanied by a runny nose. My son’s nose runs like a faucet nearly 24/7/365, so no real red flags there. The weekend rolled around and we got outside to enjoy some unseasonably beautiful weather.

Then the oddity started. Sunday evening I noticed his cheeks were a slightly flushed. I thought maybe he just got a little sun. He was a little restless that night, but still slept okay. Monday morning brought the real fun. Not only was his tummy rash still there, it was angrier and had spread to his back. There were raised patches that certainly looked uncomfortable, but his mood was more or less the same – he’s usually a little irritable in the mornings like his mama.

Thinking like any working parent does, I was plotting in my head how I was going to spin this to daycare to convince them he’s healthy and it’s just a little rash. I immediately snapped some pictures of the evidence and sent them off to the doctor’s office along with a brief description of symptoms. He was running a little warm – 99 degrees F – but definitely not feverish. I decided to roll the dice and sent him to daycare. I pointed out the rash to his teachers and let them know he’s had something similar before with a random cold, but to let me know if it got worse.

The day was rolling along until I got a the dreaded call shortly before lunchtime. Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I typically take that with a grain of salt because my center’s thermometer has been off on several occasions…but that’s another issue. Nonetheless, per their policy, he had to go home.

During this time, I had heard back from the doctor’s office and they said it’s probably just a rash accompanying a virus, and just to watch it. Not much to do.

However, when I arrived to pick up the boy, his rash had spread to pretty much everywhere except his sweet little face. I was also delivered a nice little anecdote upon pickup. One of the little boys in my son’s class was diagnosed with HFMD the previous Friday! My mom voice was shrieking inside my brain. With that information, I scooped him up and immediately made an appointment with the doc.

A few hours later we are waiting in the exam room, eager to see the doctor who was able to fit us in. He comes in, checks my son over while asking me a bunch of questions. Determines it’s not HFMD, but probably just another rash that comes along with a virus. Then proceeds to swab his throat to check for Strep. Five minutes later, the test was negative. He sends us on his way, but to call back if it lasts longer than three days. And he is able to return to daycare.

To make this long story short, it turns out he most likely did have HFMD, as the blisters showed up the next day and a number of kids in his class had it. By this time, all those kids had been exposed to it days before the first kid developed his spots, so it was a lost cause anyway. It’s just one of those things that runs rampant through daycare and there is little to do to avoid it.

Being my first kid, I’m becoming more familiar that kids get weird illnesses that often don’t appear as expected. This certainly was the case for my son, as the doctor didn’t even see it. It was a long week, and I lost a couple nights’ sleep, but the spots eventually started to disappear.

HFMD was one tricky bastard. Well played.

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