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.

 

 

Cooties

Cootie

Ugh.

It’s that time of year.  The cold weather means staying indoors, easily transmitting all the nasty little cootie bugs that the kids like to bring home from school with them.  And believe me, my kids are germ magnets, so there is lots of happy germ breeding in the winter months.

Colds are common, but not a huge deal to me.  A sniffle or two here and there, usually nothing too serious.  Except that Noah, my little Stridor Prince, likes to turn cold viruses into scary, bouts of croup.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Do you see where this post is going?

Poor Noah has croup.  Again.  Only this time, he decided to show symptoms in the day time, during regular business hours for the pediatrician and the pharmacy.  The kids is losing his touch, what can I say?

We called the doctor’s office and they were even able to prescribe him oral steroids without an office visit.  Awesome.

I should mention that our regular doctor is on maternity leave, so covering her is a doctor I not so lovingly dubbed Dr Dumbass, several years ago when we had the first displeasure of meeting him.

To make a long story short, we took Bella in for a wellness check when she was about four months old and was being exclusively breastfed.  He decided that she wasn’t growing fast and chubby enough, so instead of suggesting ways to try and increase my milk supply or just be generally helpful, he informed me that breast milk isn’t always enough and some babies just need to be on formula.

Really?  Breast milk isn’t enough?  Instead, I need artificial milk…….?  I won’t turn this post into a crazy breastfeeding rant, but when a pediatrician is too lazy and/or ignorant to encourage and support breastfeeding, they are doing a great disservice to both the parents and the children that they have taken an oath to protect.

Okay.  Rant over.

Anyway, Dr Dumbass prescribed Noah’s oral steroids so we could nip the croup before it got serious.  His directions were one lump dose of the medication, whereas when we go to urgent care or the ER for croup, they always have us split the dose, half in the morning and half at night.  After Noah’s lump dose yesterday morning, he ended up getting sick.  Now, it could have had nothing to do with the lump dose of the steroids, but since we’re talking about Dr Dumbass and since he was seemingly completely fine beforehand, I blame the doctor.  The side effects did mention upset stomach, and Noah’s stomach was certainly not happy.

Happily, Noah seemed to recover pretty quickly, acting like his normal self within an hour or two.  He has a slight cough and a little bit of a runny nose, but the bark is gone, so I am hoping that the croup has left the building.

Not long after going to bed last night, Bella was at our door.

I hate it when the kids come to the door in the middle of the night, it’s never good.

Sure enough, she had thrown up.

Now, I know I have mentioned before how freaked out and anxious I get when anyone even says they have a tummy ache.  We have had great success with using 100% grape juice as a stomach bug preventative, especially for Bella who seems prone to the nasty virus.  I hate to admit it, but we have been lax with it for the last week or so, and lo and behold, now she is sick.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  I like to believe it works though.  Now that we are out of it and I am scared to death of it spreading to other members of the family.  o.O

I have read that apple cider vinegar can be used in place of grape juice, about a tsp-tbsp with 8oz of water.  In my panic mode, you can bet I was choking down some good old ACV within an hour of her leaving our room.  After liberally spraying everything I could imagine she may have touched or breathed on with her cooties.

Winter is kind of a sucky time for a germaphobe mama.