Monday, May 07, 2012

Scarlet fever

Miriam came down with scarlet fever (of all things) late last week, and suffered into the weekend. All at once, I felt sorry for my poor miserable girl, and secretly intrigued that I (well, mostly she) was living inside a novel from the olden days. Visions of Mary Ingalls, Gilbert Blythe, and Beth March suffering nobly came rushing back to me from my childhood reading days. If I had had scarlet fever as a kid, I probably would have been a little too excited about it for my own good.

Of course, it's easy for me to say these things because in this day and age, we have antibiotics. Within 36 hours of her first dose, Miriam made a remarkable recovery. On Friday, I was giving her oatmeal baths and controlling her fever with Panadol. On Saturday afternoon, she was doing some low-key sprinkler running in the backyard. Amazing.

We saw two doctors over the course of her weekend treatment, both at Royal Hospital. The first visit, we were greeted by a Filipina receptionist, shown to the ER department (the only one open at the time) by a Malaysian security guard, checked in by a Somali nurse, assisted by an Indian nurse, and finally treated by a Rwandan doctor. Truly, this is a capsule of a run-of-the-mill UAE experience. The doctor diagnosed scarlet fever, and also gave Miriam this super cool (literally) fever patch. Do they have these in the US?

The next day, we had a follow-up visit with another doctor, this one from the UK. He was like something straight out of Downton Abbey, with his accent and mannerisms and little leather pouch-bag full of diagnostic instruments. He was really delighted to see that Miriam's scarlet fever symptoms were perfectly textbook - he ran to the next office over and had his colleague come in to see them. (The symptoms are: fever, strawberry tongue, sandpaper-like rash focused on creases in the skin, sore throat, and a rash on the face but not surrounding the lips.) Good for Miriam, I guess? He also said they've seen five scarlet fever cases in that hospital alone in the last week, so it's going around.

Which brings me to my final point: the weird diseases you sometimes get overseas. I don't know that I've ever heard of anyone having scarlet fever in the US, but it was going around in Egypt the summer we were there. Chicken pox is also making the rounds here - does that still happen in the US? It was a childhood rite of passage when I was young, but with the vaccine I suppose it's not so widespread there anymore.

Miriam is all better now and I am so grateful for antibiotics. I hope she can appreciate her adventure with scarlet fever even more when she gets around to reading some of my favorite childhood books.

12 comments:

Amira said...

I always thought it was kind of cool when I had pleurisy as a teenager. I am sure my children wouldn't appreciate my enthusiasm if they got scarlet fever.

Sarah Familia said...

It's great that you can look on the bright side and enjoy the literary connection.

My kids got the chicken pox when we were living in Italy, coincidentally (or not!) the same week that my husband was called to be the young men's president and sent off to scout camp for a week. I did not have your enthusiasm for nursing my kids through an old-fashioned disease in a foreign country!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Antibiotics are a miracle that we usually take for granted. In doing family history I've seen that countless people died of diseases that for us are non-scary because we have developed medicine to counteract them. I'm so glad Meme is getting well.

Liz Johnson said...

I read "scarlet fever" and immediately panicked because of Beth March. I'm so glad that she's better and that it's so treatable now!

I have only heard of chicken pox making the rounds among kids who aren't vaccinated, and it's never terribly severe. I have never known anybody in the US to get scarlet fever, though! But we have all sorts of weird stuff here that I'm sure is less common overseas.

Jill said...

I was Mary Ingalls for Halloween once

Aimee said...

In 4th grade, I got chicken pox, strep throat and scarlet fever all at once. Like you, my mom immediately thought of literary characters. It is a commen rash with strep throat. I have a couple of other friends who got it also. A common issue that I have noticed, we all have trouble taking PM medicine. (Think NyQuil, Tylenol Pm, benedryl). It makes me have a paradox effect, racing heart, rapid shallow breathing, etc. Other than that, I suffered no ill-effects and get to tell people I had scarlet fever!

Amanda said...

My roommate and her boyfriend got scarlet fever when I was in college. I had the exact same reaction and kept wondering when I was going to catch the ague or dropsy because apparently we had transported back to the 1890's. They do have those fever patches, but we don't use them for fever- they are used to treat burns and after radiation treatments to calm the skin. My friend who is a PA brought some on a 5-day backpacking trip to cut up and put in blisters. I steal mine from the hospital because I haven't been able to find any at normal drug stores.

Shannan Deshazer said...

Would you believe my children (my two older boys) got chicken pox right here in the grand ol state of Oregon a few years ago??? Jackson did not have the vaccine - when he was a baby the vaccine was only a few years old and I didn't trust the side effects so he didn't get it. Blake got BOTH doses of vaccine according to immunization schedules. Then when Jackson was 9 and Blake was 6 and I was 8 mos pregnant with Chase, they both got the good old fashioned chicken pox. Who knows where they got it from? They weathered it just fine - have a few scars to show off (becuase that is the fun of pox, showing off your scars and their weird locations). The worse part of it all is they are now prone to cold sores and cancer sores because of the virus swirling around in their system now. Boo.

Beth said...

I'm 48 y/o, and as a child in Southern California I had scarlet fever. My mother was a nurse, and when she would retell the story of my illness, she emphasized how panicked she was when she diagnosed me at home. She called out to my dad, an insurance agent, "Jim, what is is when they have a strawberry tongue?", hoping she had confused the symptoms. I always thought it was odd that even a non-medical person like my dad would know the symptoms of scarlet fever, so I guess it was more common than we think of it as being.

Crys said...

Oh boy....so glad Miriam is starting to feel better. The doctor cracks me up. Textbook magnifications are their literrary kick. Dr. Are so nerdy ;)

Shari said...

Eek! I would have been so scared! I don't like thinking about my children getting illnesses that I have not had previous experience with as a mother, but that's partly because we want to avoid the doctors and hospitals here. I'm SO glad that Miriam is doing better!!!

Anonymous said...

Southern California my 6 yr old has Scarlet Fever he just started his antibiotics yesterday.

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