Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Benjamin has been crying, shrieking and moaning a lot these last few days since he got "hoof-and-mouth."

OK, well it's not really "hoof-and-mouth" and I know that because when the first kid-of-a-friend got "hand foot and mouth disease" and his mom emailed us, she included a link about the virus. The article had a prominent clarifier that it is different than the "hoof-and-mouth disease" (or "foot-and-mouth disease") contracted by cattle. It's a good thing she did that, because in the minutes before I got to the link I nervously thought, "Is that the human version of that 'hoof-and-mouth disease'? Did they get that at the petting zoo? We were at the petting zoo . . ."

So, anyway, "hand, foot and mouth disease." Apparently it's a common childhood illness; symptoms include painful sores on the hands, (yeah, that's right), feet and mouth.

Benjamin's tongue hurt and at first we thought he had bitten it. But when we looked, we saw the 3 or 4 nasty-looking blisters. And that's how the 4 days of him shrieking or moaning in pain sometimes only when he tried to eat or drink, other times every few minutes. The poor little guy. Even on alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, he would complain of lots of pain and had a horrible time eating and drinking.

We don't know for sure that it was "hand, foot and mouth" virus. Some of the clues, however, are hard to argue with. We avoided contact with the first child we knew with the virus. We did, however, spend an evening with a second kid friend who had it but was not supposed to be contagious. We were all in very close contact with him. Maybe he was still contagious after all. It's obviously been going around town, though, so maybe we got it from a grocery cart handle; who knows?

Another clue were the sores in my mouth. I recalled that I had some unexplained sores on my cheek just recently and 3 or 4 canker-like sores were forming on my gums. I also had a strange little blister on my hand, a sore throat and headaches for a while (other symptoms). Usually, only kids get this disease, but adults can get it. And I was in a lot of close contact with cute little suspected vector number one.

Anyway, the shrieking, moaning and crying made the last several days a challenge. And that was just me. (Kidding.) Of course, one of the hardest parts is not being able to do anything else to take the pain away from Benjamin. In my experience, pain relievers don't do too much for throat or mouth pain. We tried a local numbing medication on his tongue sores, but the initial stinging was too much for him to bear.

Benjamin is a slow, distracted eater to begin with. With every bite feeling like a stab in the tongue, each attempt at a meal became a major project, from finding foods that wouldn't sting or scrape, to breaking them into little bits, to coaxing him to actually eat it.

Nights too have been rough (rough mostly for Mrs. OccupationDad who is the light sleeper and the one Benjamin wants to snuggle up to when he wakes up hurting and, moreover, the one has to go to work in the morning). Since we "co-sleep" with Ben, we all awake together and wish we could do something to make the pain go away. (If you're shocked by the co-sleeping, you probably didn't notice the "Attachment Parenting" links in the sidebar. Worry not; it's a good thing.) I do get up for medicine or water or whatever might be needed.

Basically, when you have a sick child, life largely reverts back to when you had a baby. Night waking, holding, frequent comforting and reassuring, more loud "preverbal communication," often bodily fluids need to be removed from clothing and bedding. And, again, that was just dealing with me. Kidding!

Finally yesterday, the shrieking dwindled, and Benjamin ate a relatively normal solid-food meal without tears. So things are looking up!

Moral: If it comes to your town, beware the "hoof-and-mouth."


Lish said...

So glad Ben is feeling better, didn't get a chance to talk to you much this evening, how are you feeling?

Shawn said...

Drew got a virus similar to hoof (excuse me) HAND, foot and mouth disease a few months ago. There were no sores, but it was extremely painful and when we took him in for a rapid strep screening that was our pediatrician's take on it. It was mysterious since no one at the day care got it. I was left kind of suspecting the Children's Museum where we'd had an outing a short time before he got sick, but I short of hate to think that since he has soooo much fun there.

Anyway, regular pain killers gave no relief and I can't ever recall a time when Drew would refuse any liquids. Luckily for us, we had some left over super strong painkiller from after his tonsillectomy that we were able to give him. I swear that he was in MORE pain from this virus that after SURGERY! Anyway, you definitely have my sympathies. It's great once they start feeling better :)