Fifth’s Disease: Easy peasy for kids, massive pita for adults

Have you heard of Fifth’s Disease?  It sounds scary, doesn’t it?!  Throw “disease” into any sentence, and it has an uncanny way of stirring up immense fear, especially when it’s your child’s pediatrician, diagnosing your sweet angel with it!  That’s exactly what happened to us last month.

It started after dance class one day, when I noticed Bella had what looked like a heat rash on her legs and arms.  She had just spent several hours dancing in a warm studio with tights and a leotard on, I brushed it off pretty quickly.  The next day, however, it looked worse and covered even more of her skin.  She said it was mildly itchy, but had no other aches or pains or any signs of illness at all.  I decided to keep an eye on it, but wasn’t worried it would be anything at all.

The next morning, she complained of an upset tummy, and her rash looked angry.  I kept her home from school and made a pediatrician’s appointment.  I was expecting strep throat, as she has gotten the rash, fever and upset tummy before with no sign of sore throat but a positive strep test.  The nurses at the office agreed with me and we had her diagnosed before the doctor ever came in.  They did a rapid strep test just in case, but when the pediatrician came in, she seemed completely confident that she knew exactly what it was, and it wasn’t strep.  Fifth’s Disease.

I tried not to look terrified, as she continued to explain that it is a super common virus with kids that is very mild and by the time the rash shows up, they are no longer contagious.  She mentioned that it seemed to be going around a lot right now, but assured me it was no big deal.  That didn’t keep me from Googling it the minute we got home, but it did in fact look pretty non scary.

Fifth’s Disease is a human parvo virus, not related to the parvo virus in dogs.  It was the fifth illness related to fever and rashes in children, which is how it got it’s not so clever name.  It is also known as slapped cheek disease, because a common symptom is the appearance of what looks like freshly slapped cheeks on children.  There is no treatment, other than possible pain meds if the child isn’t feeling well, and as I said before, Bella never acted ill in any way, so it truly was a no big deal illness.  For her.

Fast forward a few weeks.  Fifth’s Disease can incubate and remain unnoticed for several weeks before any symptoms show up.  It is at this time when you are contagious, but are not showing any symptoms, so you have no clue what is coming.  Remember when I said Fifth’s Disease is easy peasy and no big deal for kids?  Well, if you are an adult, it’s a whole other story.

Most people have had fifths at some point in their childhood and so their bodies build up immunity to further infection from it.  It is not very common for adults to get it, but when they do, the symptoms are far more severe.

It started on a Saturday evening, when I starting feeling yucky.  Kind of nauseated, slight headache, and I could not get warm.  I did not sleep well at all that night, so when I felt fatigued and icky the next day, I attributed it to my poor night’s sleep.  The next night, I went to bed shivering, absolutely freezing, despite being under multiple layers of blankets, and having a very warm puppy snuggled up next to me.  I tossed and turned, I put on extra layers, a thick fuzzy robe, socks!!  This, from a person that leaves her ceiling fan on 365 days a year!  I was miserable, my muscles sore from the shivers!  It wasn’t until I started feeling itchy, and noticed that lacy rash show up that I realized I had Fifth’s Disease.

Checking my temperature showed a fever of 102.  I felt sore and achy all over, my joints screamed, I couldn’t stay warm, despite the nice weather and warm temperatures.  Yes, Fifth’s Disease as an adult BLOWS!

Today, I am almost 2 weeks in and I still have such horrible joint pain, I can barely move in the morning.  I’m suffering severe carpal tunnel symptoms from the swelling, and even had to start wearing braces on my wrists at night to attempt to lessen the intense pain I feel in the morning.  It is frightening how badly it affects the joints!  I have woken up completely unable to even close my hands, making a fist an impossible task.  Taking NSAIDS helps, as does heat therapy, but my goodness, is it miserable!  I haven’t been able to do any fancy hairstyles on Bella in the mornings for school, I can’t even make my hands work to manage a ponytail until the meds kick in and dull the pain.

I *think* I am slowly improving as the days go by, but in severe cases, the symptoms have been known to last months, years or even lead to permanent arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, MS, the list goes on.  I am hopeful that I am not a severe case, the pain has truly brought me to tears more than once.  It’s scary, it really is.

So how can Fifth’s Disease be prevented?  We are pretty diligent about hand washing here, and covering sneezes, keeping surfaces wiped down and disinfected.  During the contagious stage of Fifth’s, there are no symptoms!  Despite our diligence, it happened.  There is no treatment, no cure, it just is.  It’s a very common illness in children, and to repeat, Bella suffered no joint pain, no prolonged illness, and is 100% well to this day.  Most people have had it as a child and don’t even know it, making them immune.  For other, poor unfortunate souls, (yes, I am totally singing Ursula’s song in my head right now and I am not even sorry) you get it and you deal because there is nothing else that can be done.  NSAIDS for pain, but other than that, grin and bear it.

My heartfelt condolences if you suffer through this as an adult.



Hear No Evil

Hear No Evil Monkey

Or any other sounds for that matter.

I am suffering from painfully clogged ears, a lovely byproduct of this insane cold we’ve all been blessed with.  My goodness, it makes me feel just awful when I think of how annoyed I might have gotten with the children when they were whiny these last few days, possibly suffering from the very same discomfort!

It’s so hard to know when the littlest ones are in pain, or even sometimes what may be bothering them at all.  Thankfully, everyone seems to be doing so much better, and I am hoping that this ear pain will soon be a distant, albeit painful, memory!

I am trying decongestants to drain any fluid that may be built up, and some ibuprofen to help with the terrible pain and swelling.  Really, what it bothering me the most, is not being able to hear clearly.  It’s one of my best tools for detecting baby mischief!

Feliz Cumpleanos, Saraphina!

The day is here, my baby is one year old today.  (And yes, she is still drinking bottles, carry on now.)  She doesn’t look any older than she did yesterday.  I dare say, she doesn’t look a day over 11 months old.  But alas, it has been one whole year since her eventful birth.

This is where I am going to recount my birth story, it’s a mommy thing.  You don’t have to read it.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Last year, I went into the hospital on the 25th to be induced.  Four babies, and all of them had to be served eviction papers to vacate the womb.  I hate the induction process because you are tied down to the bed while they poke you and prod you and run iv’s, etc.  It is terribly uncomfortable, and then they expect you to sleep all night to “rest up”.  Yeah, that never happens.  If not because of the discomfort, then because of the excitement!  Abe, on the other hand, has no problem snoring up the whole maternity floor.  Good for him.

So, of course I didn’t get any sleep, and the next morning they decided to start the pitocin.  That is the medication that causes the ungodly contractions.  I was tolerating it pretty well, so they decided to up the dose which had me doubled over in pain and ready for the epidural.  The back pain was what was hurting the most.

Here’s where it gets fun.

I got the epidural, and my back pain went away.  Hallelu-yerr!  But……I still felt every single sensation below the belly button.  I told my nurse, but she seemed to believe I was mistaken.  She checked me, as I was wincing in pain, and still was unconvinced that my epidural was not working properly.  She told me to push the epidural button as much as I felt I needed, that it would give me a little extra relief.

We cranked that baby like crazy.  My back pain, as I said, was completely gone.  But the contractions, the pressure, everything else was 110% natural and unmedicated.

During one check, when they wanted to break my water, they noticed that Sara had her hand on top of her head.  They decided not to break the water because they thought the hand may come out first and complicate the birth.

That’s what I wanted to hear.  Complications.

Things moved really quickly after that.  At my next cervical check, my water broke.  They said I was at about a 6, but with the water breaking, I felt the heavy pressure building up fast.  Abe told the nurse that I tend to dilate pretty quickly and that she should call the doctor.  She hesitated, but called my doctor so she could come soon.

It was less than twenty minutes after my last check, when I measured only 6cm dilated, that I told Abe I felt like I needed to push.  The nurse, who was perfectly lovely and very sweet, seemed to doubt my Spidey senses.  She offered to check me again, and then seemed astounded when I was fully dilated and the baby’s head was near crowning.

Funny how a mama who has had three previous babies tends to know when “It’s time”.

Now, mind you, my epidural was failing me.  It took away the back pain, yes.  But it was not my back giving birth.  We were quickly told that I may have a “window” in my epidural.  “CLOSE THE WINDOW!!!!”  But there was no closing of that window.  I was oh so privileged to experience a completely unmedicated birth.   Well, unmedicated where it counts.  Unmedicated where you don’t want it to be unmedicated.

It burned.  I won’t go into any more detail, but I could have puked or passed out from the pain.

When Sara was finally born, she didn’t cry.  She didn’t make any noise.  She was quickly whisked away and the on call pediatrician was called in “stat”.  I was so light headed, the room was spinning and the voices sounded distant.  I heard one of the nurses ask Abe to stop filming the baby.  I knew that wasn’t good.

I felt myself ask if she was okay, it all felt like a foggy dream.

After what felt like an hour, I heard baby noises.  Abe told me she was fine, but I sensed doubt in his voice.  Do you see her left arm in that picture?  How it’s held straight down and not pulled up or moving?  They suspected a broken clavicle.  I thought back to when they were going to break my water and her hand was on her head, wondering if that is what caused the problem.  X-rays were ordered, and finally, I was handed my precious little girl.

It is unfair to judge a mama’s hair and makeup after over 24 hours of labor and a particularly painful and stressful delivery, by the way.

She was born weighing exactly 9lbs.  To my shock and delight, she was also born with dark hair.  The trend in my babies seemed to be getting lighter and lighter, so we were all surprised at the little chicana baby!

The x-rays showed no fractures, so the pediatrician diagnosed her with having a “stinger injury”, something common in football players.  Her arm slowly began moving and gaining mobility.  What a relief!

We came home two days later, to a house full of siblings that already loved her to pieces.  What’s not to love?

It is so hard to believe that this was one whole year ago!  Now she is standing up and cruising around the house, giggling at her Noey and chasing the kitties.  Babies grow up in the blink of an eye!

Happy Birthday, Saraphina!  You are going to change the world, you have already made mine a better place.