Published on October 4th, 2013 | by Richard Black0
…and Upon the Second Day of Pre-School the Lord Declared There Will be Disease and it was Good
Being an older parent I’d always known that when kids begin going to school they bring lots of things back with them and I’m not talking about pieces of poster board with stickers on them. Usually its just a stomach bug or a run of the mill cold. Occasionally it’s a nice bit of strep and every once in a while it’s something from a third world country that I’ve never even heard of.
I thought that I was prepared for the constant attack that illness would make upon my health. Sure the vomiting wouldn’t be all that fun but when my daughter’s sick she loves to cuddle up against me for comfort which is something she stopped doing about as soon as she could crawl. In a nutshell I was prepared, or so I thought, for how my daughter would react to being ill on a pretty much constant basis.
What I hadn’t expected was that I would be a sneezing, barfing, and wailing mass of phlegm for almost nine months.
I learned pretty quickly that my daughter can happily truck through just about any disease that will come close to putting me in the ground. If she’s sick for two days then I can count on being out for three or four, and I’m not talking about a functional illness where I could mope around and fix a few meals, maybe do some laundry or light dusting. No,
This is the kind of illness in which falling out of bed is a monumental effort and it’s just about all I can do to spill a box of Cheerios over the floor for my daughter’s breakfast before I pass out on the cold kitchen floor.
During the first year of pre-school I conservatively estimate that I was sick about 90% of the time. I caught all the usual bugs and sniffles and coughs and barfs and skitters. I even caught Strep throat twice in one year which was pretty nifty and should put me in the running for some sort of record. Towards the very end of the year however my daughter came home with a condition I had been as yet unacquainted with, Hand Foot and Mouth disease.
For those of you who are a little less than perceptive, or not in the know, Hand Foot and Mouth is a delightful viral condition in which weeping sores cover the hands, feet, and mouth of the unfortunately victim. at least typically. The disease is about as infectious as Chicken Pox and begins with a fever after which an intense burning sensation precedes the onset of bloody, itchy little sores about the size of a pinhead. These sores eventually dry up and fall off along with fingernails, skin or in my case, any residual sex appeal.
I know this because it’s exactly what happened to me. My daughter had about three days of discomfort and a few sores we could see on her hands and feet. I was knocked out for six days. In addition to a few hundred weeping sores on my face (Hello Ladies!) were the couple of thousand or so on my hands and feet. When they dried up I was able to peel off the entire callous on my heel in one big tug. Isn’t that something!
But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that there are something like seven different versions of Hand Foot and Mouth all combining and recombining to create new and exciting strains of the disease just like the common cold. Theoretically I could catch Hand Foot and Mouth at a minimum of six more times!
Eventually I recovered but the sores on my face remained for a good two weeks after I was feeling my normal perky self. It took a little while to get used to the looks. There’s nothing like going into a Whole Foods with a head full of what looks like smallpox to make a fellow feel, just a bit, unpopular.
Fortunately being the cheery sort of turn-lemons-into-lemonade person for whom I’ve become known I began eating lunch at a few establishments I used to work at many years ago during a brief and turbulent period in my life as a waiter. To be clear it wasn’t because I’m a vindictive sort of person who would remember a manager who called me an idiot or an owner who referred to the busboys in a remarkably racists terms.
That was almost twenty years ago and I like to think that I’ve grown since then
Instead I like to think of my desire to have a few lunches out during this brief window of time when I looked like a hard luck case from the Old Testament as more of a social experiment, and one with quite satisfying and intriguing results.