I Caught A Disease. (Adult Hand Foot Mouth Disease Day By Day, With Updates)Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Disclaimer: This post is long and incredibly detailed. I will post a shorter version of events at the end of the post for those of you who just want the nitty gritty. If you're looking to read about how HFMD affected me each day, this is the post for you. If not, keep Google searching :)
That title is not click bait. I contracted Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD), and I'm miserable. The only thing that is helping me right now is posts on people's day by day experiences with the virus. So, since I can't really do anything but wait for these sores to clear, I'm going to make my own post about this disgusting (and personally embarassing) experience in the hope that it helps someone else who's struggling.
In case you didn't know, Hand Foot Mouth Disease is a highly contagious virus that usually affects young children, but occasionally spreads to adults (lucky me). I'm not a doctor, so I won't give you the rundown. Instead, check out this link here for more in-depth information about the virus.
I am a social worker who works in a community setting with high risk families. Last week, I spent 7+ hours with a client who had a lovely little 2 year old girl who loved putting her hands (and everything else) in her mouth. Now I try to be as clean as possible when working with families (washing hands, cleaning surfaces and toys, keeping a fair distance from sick children, keeping an eye out for bugs, etc.), but obviously I missed something. I guess spending hours with someone in a short period of time, in a small space, really doesn't make for the healthiest of conditions. What I'm trying to say here is that sometimes, even if you are being super careful, if your immune system is not at 100%, it's possible for you to catch something.
Anyways, as I'm sure you've guessed, the little girl had HFMD, and I caught it from her. Here's the timeline of wonderfully miserable events.
Exposure: Monday - Thursday
I worked closely with my client for several days. During that time, her daughter was always present. I am thinking I contracted it by either touching her hands or something she has touched, and then touching my eye. I know I am careful not to put my hands in my mouth, but I often forget that I often get sick when I spend a lot of time with kids in that tiny office, so I was prepared for the worst.
Day 1: Friday
I woke up feeling off, but still went into work. I planned to leave early, but ended up staying for the full day. I went home, cleaned my room, and fell asleep at a decent hour. I was completely exhausted, but dismissed it as normal tiredness after a long week.
Day 2: Saturday
I woke up feeling tired, but attributed it to being close to my time of the month. I went to church, but started getting slight chills throughout the service. I thought it was normal until someone sitting next to me asked me why I was so cold. I at that point realized something was off, but continued about my day, even going to the gym this evening.
Day 3: Sunday
I woke up with a little tickle in my throat, but nothing too painful. I figured I was finally catching something, but thought it was something common and not incredibly harmful. I went to the grocery store and began to meal prep, when I started feeling the onset of the flu - namely the aches and a headache. I had to take breaks throughout my meal prep to sit, and every time I stood up, something new hurt. I rushed into my bed, and soon my entire body was aching, I had a fever, a very bad headache, and the chills. I took Advil to help with the pain, then took a nap. I woke up dripping sweat. I mean literally dripping. Thanks to the Advil the pain was gone, so I took advantage of the moment and took a shower. At this point I noticed that I had a small burn mark on my pinky. I burn my pinky finger all the time, and I figured I had done it again today while using the oven. I dismissed it, and went back to bed. I slept for the rest of the day on and off. The fever eventually broke.
Day 4: Monday
I woke up feeling much better - no pain, no fever, no headache, just that little blister on my pinky and some slight exhaustion. Oh and a sore throat that developed in about an hour. But still, no big deal. I went to work as normal, but decided I would leave halfway through the day to get some more rest. Right before I left work, I went to the bathroom, and noticed what looked like a rash on my face. That's pretty odd for me - I don't normally get rashes, and never on my face. When I got back to my office, my client was there waiting for me, with her daughter, who she announced had HFMD.
After answering her question and sending her on her way, I hightailed it out of work. During the 30 minute drive to the walk-in clinic, blisters started appearing on my hands. I was shocked when I looked at my hands as I pulled into the parking lot ... they looked so bad in such a short period of time. The rash on my face also multiplied, and started developing sores.
I got the diagnosis in under 15 minutes, and headed back home to curl up in my bed and watch Netflix. In the three-ish hours I spent watching House, I developed several blisters all over my hands, my face rash worsened, and when I stood up to use the washroom, I learned that I was developing blisters on my feet too. I'm currently writing today's segment at 11:31 PM, and I have even begun to develop sores in and around my nose. As bad as today feels, tomorrow might be a whole lot worse. The good news is I am keeping myself medicated with Advil to help with the pain, and anti-itch cream + tea tree oil for the itch. I also wear gloves and socks whenever possible, it also seems to help with the pain, which feels like pins and needles. Eating - forget about it. My throat hurts too much to swallow.
Day 4: Tuesday
Warning: this day is gruesome. I want to share this because (I assume) things are going to improve, and I want to be able to shared the bad AND the good with you. Here we go.
I slept pretty well this night. I am expecting today to be worse than yesterday, so I am prepared for the worst. Just kidding no I am not. The pins and needles sensation has intensified in my hands, and my face sores seem to be blistering even more. I get up to go to the bathroom, and discover that I've developed new sores on the soles of my feet. I can't see them yet, but they hurt. A lot.
Throughout the day, new sores continue to develop/appear. I made the mistake of eating an orange this morning and I thought my throat was on fire. DON'T EAT CITRUS. I'm really hungry though, so I suck it up and eat a little pasta, and find a Mars bar which I figure will give me some calories/energy. I think anything with dairy is a bad idea, since that Mars bar also burned my throat. As evening approaches, I start feeling an itch on my back. I get up and look ... there's a rash forming on my back. And my arm ... its spreading from my hand to my arm. Wait, is my thigh itching? Yupp, it's forming on my thigh.
I do a little research and find out that there is a more intense strain of HFMD that causes a full body rash. It also is more likely to result in the loss of fingernails and toenails. Greeeeaaat. I'm so lucky.
I shower with African Black soap, which has antibacterial properties. I hope it works. I have to admit it did feel nice to roll the chunk of soap around my hand sores in the shower, but that could have just been me crossing the pain threshold.
Today is also the day that I lose my mind. I broke down in tears in the shower when I realized that the sores are spreading, and by tomorrow my body will probably be completely covered. I am not only concerned about the pain, but also about the aftermath - the scarring, the peeling, the loss of hair and nails. I am genuinely terrified, and I spent about an hour crying and begging God to help me. The only reason why I'm not crying anymore is because wiping my tears/blowing my nose is aggravating my facial sores, and I'm already in enough pain as it is. I'm writing this to let you know that if you also lose your mind at some point, it's okay. This virus really isolates you, and messes with your mind. When you combine that with hunger, pain, fatigue, and you know that you can't have anyone come near you for fear they will catch it too ... it really can send you down a dark path.
Anyways. I'm writing this at 9:27 PM. I am sleepy and I didn't get a good nap in today, so I am going to rest. I am going to apply Polysporin to my face blisters, which seem to be breaking on their own??? I am going to drink water and watch Netflix and try to be positive again, and go to sleep.
Day 5: Wednesday
I fell asleep around 1:00 AM. I woke up with an intense itchy burning feeling in my feet and hands, almost like my hands and feet were on fire. I thought it must be close to 5 or 6 AM, and the Advil/anti-itch cream must be wearing off. WRONG. It was 3:24 AM. They were right, there is nothing that can help this. I only managed to sleep in short 30-50 minute intervals before the burning would wake me up again, and I would have to reapply anti-itch cream.
I probably got out of bed at around 8:30 AM, after giving up on the idea of sleep. I had some freezies for breakfast, and manage to eat soup for lunch. I also had two bananas, and I was so happy I could eat them I almost cried. Yay food! I am starving, literally. I can barely walk. My feet alternate between burning, itching, and feeling like pins and needles. They are actually incredibly swollen, and the rash has appeared on my ankles. Today is the most painful day, but after my meltdown yesterday I think I am doing better mentally. My hands actually stop hurting for the most part, and some of the blistering and swelling seems to be going down. My face looks absolutely disgusting, but the blisters have pretty much all burst at this point and are starting to crust over (ew!!!), so I think I am beginning to heal. Not sure if the African Black soap made a difference, but I will continue to use it. As I recover, it will help to dry out blisters and sores, and help my skin to heal.
In the evening, things get worse. My feet become more swollen and more painful. I made the mistake of not taking my Advil on time, and my splitting headache returned. My chills have returned, not sure if it's because it's actually cold, or because another fever is coming.
I also find out that it is approaching outbreak status at work - 3 families are infected, plus myself. Virus party!
The best part about this being day five is that I am supposedly at least at the halfway point. This disease usually lasts between 7-10 days, so today has to be the turning point. Right?
Day 6: Thursday
Today, I was able to eat comfortably for the first time since I fell ill. Inspection of my throat noted that the redness/sores were disappearing. THANK GOD. The sores on the palms of my hands are also beginning to flatten out, which means they are healing. I seem to have lost some feeling in my fingertips, which I have deduced is a result of thickened skin where the blisters were. My feet still hurt, but those blisters are also beginning to heal. I have large red marks on my palms and soles where the blisters were, and on other parts of my body, my blisters are beginning to scab over. My facial scabs are fully scabbed over, and some of the scabs are falling off, revealing tender pink skin. I anticipate slight scarring, so Polysporin is my new best friend.
I am still in a fair amount of pain, especially when I put pressure on my hands or feet (opening a water bottle, walking, hitting my foot on furniture ...). But it is nothing compared to yesterday or the day before.
It's happening, I am beginning to heal. I think I might cry again.
I am beginning to wonder when I know if it's safe to go back to work. I am thinking that these red marks are going to be sticking around for a while. I will plan a trip to the doctors before Monday. Fingers crossed I can go back to work soon!
Day 7: Friday
I am in shock at how much better I am feeling. My blisters and sores are almost completely gone. Like, they are only maybe 4 or 5 left on my entire body that have not yet scabbed over. My facial scabs are almost all gone (I massaged my face with Polysporin and coconut oil ... and they fell off as I did so. There are no blisters on my hands, and the skin has begun to harden and change as it prepares to shed. That was fast! I will have to be careful. There are a few blisters left on my heels, but other than that all that is left are the red marks, which will eventually peel away. No more sores in my throat, just a mild cough which I assume means my throat is healing as well. I am still using Black Soap and Coconut Oil on my skin.
I can't believe it. I'm not in pain. I can eat. Thank you God. I am healing.
Day 8: Saturday
I caught a cold somehow (???) and so breathing is difficult, and I have a cough. But other than that, this is over! Woah! Well not really. I have scabs all over my body, and thick skin on my hands and palms. The marks are fading from red to brown, so I am looking like less of a leper today :) HOWEVER, my skin is now peeling, and let me tell you, it is absolutely disgusting. Painless, but a little uncomfortable if you don't trim back the loose skin (ew!). Right now, my pointer finger is peeling, and the tip is just peeling like a glove. The skin underneath is pink and tender, so I'm being careful to only trim skin off when it is uncomfortable or if it is likely to snag on something.
Day 9: Sunday
Got the all clear from the doctor to return to work tomorrow! No other updates other than scabs are forming and more fingers and toes are peeling.
Day 10: Monday
Ah the return to work. I did not cover my scabby peeling hands, as I wanted them to breathe and heal. I got lots of questions. Six fingertips are now peeling. The skin has separated at the point where it meets the nail, and an air bubble is forming, but it has not come off my hand. I tripped one finger, and I regret it. The skin is pink and tender (not painful though), and I have no fingerprint on the underlying skin??? I'll be leaving the other fingers alone. I can't wait for this to be over. I'm really tempted to trim the skin before it snags on something and gets torn...
Check back tomorrow for an update. The short version of events can be found below.
Exposure: Monday - Thursday
I worked closely with a client and her child who contracted the disease from somewhere. They were showing no symptoms, I was still following all necessary precautions in regards to hand washing and sanitizing. But I think I might have touched an infected surface, and then rubbed my eye.
Day 1: Friday
I woke up feeling off, but still went into work. Came home exhausted, dismissed it and acted as normal.
Day 2: Saturday
Woke up feeling exhausted, experienced slight chills throughout the day.
Day 3: Sunday
Woke up with a tickle in my throat. Went about my day until I was slammed with what felt like a bad case of the flu. High fever, chills, terribly body aches, bad headache. Advil helped to manage symptoms. Small burn/blister mark appeared on the side of my pinky finger, which I attributed to carelessness when preparing a meal.
Day 4: Monday
Woke up feeling like flu symptoms had passed. Sore throat eventually returned, but not as bad. Blister still on pinky. Went to work as normal, noticed face rash as I was leaving (around lunch time). Ran into aforementioned client - her daughter has HFMD. Rushed to the walk-in clinic, developed small spots and blisters on my hands on the way - I also now have HFMD. Within 3 hours blisters and sores worsen on my face and hands, now also developing in and around my nose. Slowly began to form on my feet, but I could still walk. Advil, anti-itch cream, tea tree oil, gloves and socks help minimally. It itches. It hurts. It feels like someone is sticking me with pins. It's about to get worse.
Day 4: Tuesday
Slept through the night (with gloves on), woke up well rested. Pin and needles sensation has intensified, blistering is worsening. On delicate facial skin, blisters pop with minimal to no contact. Feet sores worsen. Sores very slowly begin to spread to wrists, forearms, thighs, knees, back ... I'm going to get them on my bum by tomorrow morning. Before sores appear, the area feels itchy. I do a little research and find out that there is a more intense strain of HFMD that causes a full body rash, loss of fingernails and toenails.
Eating is very difficult - I barely eat this day. I continue to use Advil, tea tree oil, anti-itch cream. I also try African Black soap to clean blisters. I have a mental breakdown and bawl my eyes out in fear until I am forced to stop before I further aggravate my facial blisters. I apply Polysporin religiously.
Day 5: Wednesday
I couldn't fall asleep, and when I did searing itchy pain woke me up everyone 30-50 minutes. Nothing helped. Freezies and soup, and bananas are on the menu today. My face is crusty, my hands are in less pain, my feet are incredibly painful and swollen. Body rash still spreading. I'm still using African Black soap. Pain intensifies in the evening, Advil is my new best friend. Might be getting another fever. I hope this is the halfway point, because I'm losing my mind.
Day 6: Thursday
Today, I could eat. Mouth sores are beginning to disappear. Sores on my hands and feet are beginning to flatten out, and the skin where the sores/blisters were begins to thicken and feel numb. Face blisters are fully scabbed over, they should heal soon but will definitely leave scars. Pain is much milder, and mostly in response to pressure (opening a water bottle, walking, hitting my foot on furniture ...). I am planning to go back to the doctor to find out when I can go back to work.
Day 7: Friday
My blisters and sores are almost completely gone, only 4 or 5 left. Facial scabs are falling off. Red marks and scabs cover my hands and feet. By evening, the skin on one finger is bubbling, as though it is about to start peeling. No more sores in my throat, just a mild cough which I assume means my throat is healing as well. I am still using Black Soap and Coconut Oil on my skin.
Day 8: Saturday
Caught a cold somehow, so currently not very comfortable. Sores all gone, skin now peeling off like a glove. Who needs new fingerprints?
Check back tomorrow for an update.