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Mothering and Life in General

Hand Mouth Foot Disease

A friend of mine’s child has Hand Mouth Food Disease. It brings me back to when K2 had it, not once, not twice, but 4 times. I am praying she does not get it this season. I remember a nurse saying to me that the mouth ulcers only give off mild to moderate pain, and not to worry – this too shall pass.

With my Home Daycare unfortunately, my family is opened up to so many things. Common Childhood Illnesses, that I never even knew about, which lead me to believe they are only common in the parenting/care-giving world. It’s a hidden secret they don’t want to let you know about. I try as hard as I possibly can to make sure germ transfer is minimal. Let’s face it, what children don’t share in toys, they make up with germs. Also with socializing and germs spreading before the child shows any sign of symptoms, it’s really hard to know when your child is sick.

The first time K2 had it, she did not get it very bad. Our family nurse said that I may have had it when I was younger and gave the antibodies to her via breastfeeding, for K2 to get through it faster. When she got it again – full force, I knew we both were wrong, and so was the Telehealth nurse who said you only get it once… On the third time I could not understand her screaming and carrying on, why on earth would she be acting this way for mild-moderate pain?

On the fourth time I, not for the first time in my parenting life, ate my words. I would now understand why children act in passionate protest. The nurse who told me it was mild to moderate pain, needs a smack upside the head. The fourth time K2 got HMFD, I ended up getting it too. So I think it’s time that I tell other parents what your child may feel like during this illness, so maybe you can be more understanding than I was. I just had the wrong information, HMFD is not like cutting a tooth. It’s in it’s own category of its own.

At first you end up with a fever, and a sore throat, that is comparable to Strep Throat. You feel like yuck, and your throat feels like raw slop. This is pretty much straight forward, this would be considered the ‘mild’ part for an adult, but for a child who never had Strep Throat… I am sure this might be up there with scraping their knee for the first time.

Then you get those dreadful ulcers, at first they feel like the cankers you would get when you drink or eat too many acidly foods or juices. But then they burn, and then you get more. If you are really ‘lucky’ you get them at the base of your tongue. You can’t talk, move your tongue, swallow or open your mouth. It.hurts.bad. As an adult I was not impressed, I would very much rather to get a filling done without sedation. It does not matter what you put into your mouth, it’s either too hot or too cold, or burns and stings. You are starving, but you just can’t eat. So, you are in pain, were pain usually is not, hungry, tired, and just not right.

Then a few days from when the ulcers starts, you read that this is pretty much the end, you get a rash and blisters around your face, hands and feet. You almost look forward to it. Once the rash and blisters comes then you know it’s the end – light at the tunnel. Well, let us talk about this shall we?

I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom, I placed my feet on my cold wood parquet floors and it just did not feel right. The weight of my body pressed up against the bottom of my feet felt like I just did a belly flop in the pool! Then it felt like I had these bubbles under my skin. I walked on the sides of my feet to the bathroom and hoped that K2 was not feeling this.

The next day K2 could not, would not walk, and I did not blame her. The next morning things got worse. It felt like you had a sunburn, but somehow you have marbles under your skin and now you have to put you full weight on this injured area. At least it took away the pain of our mouths – a tad. We tried to stay in bed or on the couch, watching TV and nursing as much as we could, making up for the time where she would latch, unlatch and scream.

Your hands – you don’t want to hold anything because it feels the same way. These blisters were not like the normal you-got-burnt-or had-some-type-of-friction-and-you-get-a-blister, blister. The blister was hard, and white, surrounded with angry red skin. It almost felt callused, like it was not even worth a picker to pick these things, you will never get through your skin to it, the blister felt all the way down to bone. The burn is like you cut your nails a bit too short and every pulse there was an ache.

It was about a week and a half of this nonsense and I hope there was nothing else up this virus’ sleeve. I think we were beyond having enough. Soon it was getting better to eat, and K2 had her appetite back, although my feet still hurt to walk on, and K2’s was peeling. Her hands and feet looked like they were badly burnt and just falling apart. K2 started to walk again, and nurse like a newborn, but I was still having issues. It takes awhile for those ulcers in your throat to heal, and the blisters became hard red spots. Luckily those red spots would eventually flake off, and new happy skin was coming back.

K2’s lips looked chapped and peeled as well. Her drooling stopped and so did her annoyance with being in her own skin. Things looked like they were looking up. But a note-to-self: Not to allow K2 to touch a child’s hands especially of ones who drools was a permanent rule. HMFD reminded me of times when you want to help, but there is nothing you can do but hold the child, and try as you may, comfort.

I hope I gave you some light on how your child might be feeling. I know there is no ‘tips’ or trade ‘secrets’ to get over it faster. If you are like me, knowing what the person is feeling, helps you from feeling powerless, in a powerless situation. You have some control, a connection to the discomfort of the illness. You can get through this in a calm and loving way. And from a mother who’s been there before I give you all the hugs and support in the world.


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