It gave us one day. One day to relax and recover. One day to accept the reality that another vacation was over and real life was waiting on deck. Then it came. It started with a fever, low-grade at first, then quickly rising like a thermostat in the mid-day sun. So much heat seemed to radiate from the top of Jake’s head, you could have roasted marshmallows. Crankiness set in as the day dragged on and in the middle of the night, like a million little red shoppers swarming to a midnight madness sale, the tell-tale bumps arrived. If you’ve come to the conclusion that I am referring to the chicken pox, you would be WRONG! No, the illness that swept through the Chaney house like a dust storm through the Arizona desert, was the ugly step-brother of the chicken pox. A little something known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth.
Informing folks of the diagnosis generally elicited one of two responses:
1) “Wow, I haven’t heard that term in years. I thought that went away with Lupus and Small pox! What the hell kind of petri dish do you have going over at your house?!”
2) “Oh my god! Isn’t that the disease that the cows and sheep get? Oh good lord…my kids were around your kids 5 weeks ago! What are you trying to do, cause an epidemic?! I’m outta here, call me when you’ve been cured. Actually, don’t call me, just text me. I don’t want to catch it through the phone lines!”
First of all, I believe those who responded in the fashion of #2 have their diseases confused. Hoof and Mouth is what you are thinking of, and I can assure you, that is NOT what was growing in my house. But I can certainly see where the confusion comes in, having a similar name and all. And this brings me to the point of this post. Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth the best they could come up with?
Was it late on a Friday afternoon when this disease was first discovered? Were the doctors who first treated the strange illness hung over after a late night of shots at the local watering hole? Perhaps one doctor bet another doctor that he wouldn’t give the disease a funny name by saying, “You won’t do it”, which essentially equates to a double-dog dare and so the other doctor had no choice but to follow through on the bet. One of these scenarios had to have happened to wind up with a disease known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth.
I mean I’m not a medical professional, but I have watched several episodes of ER so I feel I am knowledgable enough to comment on the subject. In my 29 years, I have had illnesses such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis. What have I learned from these ailments? Being sick sucks and diseases should end in -itis. That should be the rule, according to this medical-drama-watching expert.
The problem with a non-medical sounding disease is that it throws people for a loop. We have been trained to expect illnesses and medical conditions will sound like an illness or medical condition. When they don’t, we get flustered and nervous and over-react. As it turns out, Hand, Foot, and Mouth is nothing more than a non-itchy version of the chickenpox that shows up primarily on the limbs and mouth. But its lay-person sounding name puts it right up there with leprosy and the plague as far as people are concerned.
What if you went to your doctor complaining about a nagging cough and he told you, “I’m afraid you have a severe case of Neck and Throat.”? Or what if your chiropractor told you that you were suffering from a nasty bout of Spinal Cord disease when you thought it was nothing more than a sore back? All I’m saying is know your audience, doctors. Be responsible when naming new illnesses and stick with the -itis formula, it’s been working for years.
In case you were interested in learning more on this non-itis malady, I am pleased to inform you that if you’ve had it before, you become immune to it. If you haven’t had it however, like a moth to a flame, it will flock to you in no time. Just days after Jake’s bumps showed up, Izzy started sprouting little red spots of her own. Shortly after that, I found myself laid up in bed with a 103 degree fever of my own. Not one to stand idly by while someone else gets the spotlight, I actively sought out the symptoms in order to generate sympathy as well. Thankfully, Jen had apparently dealt with the illness as a child and therefore was perfectly healthy through it all and able to wait on us babies hand and foot (pun intended).
After what has seemed like the longest week and a half of our lives, the fevers have all gone away and the spots are clearing up nicely. Where this mystical ailment originated from, we may never know, but to everyone wondering when it was safe to come in contact with the Chaneys again; expect a text from me soon.