Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Freddie's Mum

I blame Freddie's mum myself.

Her father was a GP we were told. Unfortunately he hadn't appeared to have passed on his medical knowledge to his daughter, and so when Freddie aged three got chicken pox, she sent him into nursery school.

This would have course have been fine, except for the fact that the nursery school that he attended was also attended by ED. Freddie's mum arbitrarily decided that it would be fine for the whole nursery school to get chicken pox in one go. That was of course very generous of her, but some of us were less decided as to the appropriateness of the timing.

For me personally, being heavily pregnant with Sensible, with ESOS aged just nineteen months, the timing was perhaps a little off.

ED went down with it first, just in time for her to not be allowed to visit me me in hospital with Sensible. She and ESOS had to stand outside with Hubby and I lifted Sensible to the window to show her to them. It wasn't my happiest moment of motherhood. My own post natal room was nice. Even if it was for isolation purposes.

Next of course came the injection. The Human Varicella Zoster vaccine - to build up antibodies, as neonatal chicken pox is very dangerous.

"It won't stop her from getting it, but it may help," explained the Doctor.

"Please could I have one of those too?" I asked.

"Why?" said the female military doctor.

"Because I have never had chicken pox, and I may give it to her."

The Doctor looked Heavenwards.

"You are breastfeeding." She said.

"Yes." I said.

"So you will give her your antibodies."

"But I haven't got any antibodies against it. I have never had chickenpox." I protested.

My mother was visiting. She adamantly confirmed that I had never had chicken pox. The Doctor smiled at me in that "sympathetic, poor woman, just had a baby" sort of way, that sort of "she clearly doesn't know which side of her brain is which any more" sort of way, and in that "don't be so stupid love, I'm related to Freddie's mum, and I KNOW that everybody is exposed to chicken pox" sort of way.

"Neonatal chickenpox is very dangerous." She concluded, pulling the needle out of Sensible. "If you get it, it is one of those things."

I started to protest again that I was likely to give it to her, because she was exposed to me, and I was breastfeeding her, and that therefore instead of giving her my antibodies, I would instead give it to her.......... My voice wasn't being heard. She had packed up her belongings into her military style doctor's bag, and was gone from my isolation room.

ESOS got chicken pox on my return from hospital.

I got it when Sensible was 10 days old. I wasn't offered an anti viral drug, because it was too expensive to give to someone in a non high risk category. Apparently, a mother of three children, one of ten days old, and the other two recovering from an illness isn't vulnerable... It's not a nice thing for an adult to get though, especially ten days after giving birth. That was an interesting breastfeeding experience...

When, at three weeks old Sensible was rushed into hospital, this time to Queen Mary's in Roehampton, so as to be given intravenous acyclovir, it was no great surprise. I had of course given it to her, lock stock and barrel and I was in a different hospital, so I couldn't even gesticulate at my Army miss who had told me that this wouldn't be likely to happen....

Sensible, having been born sensible and stoical, coped remarkably well with the prodding and poking and jabbings over the next ten days. The maternal viewpoint was less desirable. Once, I just couldn't watch the procedure of changing over the cannula yet again as yet another tiny vein collapsed.

I was angry. Angry that it had come into our family at the wrong time. Angry at Freddie's mum. Angry at the Doctor who had refused to help me avoid having it, or at least suffering so much. Angry that I was not able to be given a drug to suppress it, so that my bout would not have been so bad, and .......... most angry that due to all those things that Sensible at three weeks was being subjected to a form of torture.

We all recovered.

As you do.

The torture techniques did pay off thankfully, and Sensible was well and healthy again quickly, and apart from the fact that she was the youngest ever recorded case of a very minor case of shingles in Northern Ireland two years later, has had no side effects ....... we hope.

Personally though I put on loads of weight and suffered from TATT (tired all the time) syndrome ... for the next ten years. I probably have TATT written all over my medical notes much to my various GPs' annoyance.

And I do of course blame it all on Freddie's mum.

Luckily for her, not only do I not live near her or know her, I am not sure that I ever even met her. I was just TOLD that it was SHE who brought the chickenpox into the nursery school...

So, when last week this strange rash appeared on my tummy, my immediate thought was that it looked like chickenpox.

I've had chickenpox though, so that's all right I thought.

More blisters appeared. It itched and drove me crazy, small as it was. And, by Sunday afternoon I was ready to collapse. I went back to bed and slept..... all afternoon, all evening and all night in various feverish states. I NEVER take a day off from work. But even Hubby, who also never takes sickies, told me that I was too ill to go in. So, I slept again.

My funny patch on my tummy was still itching, had largely scabbed over and was in fact possibly starting to subside. Hubby looked at it.

"It looks like chickenpox." He said. "Do you think it's shingles?"

We looked it up on the Internet. At first we found some pictures that looked like roof tiles. I knew I wasn't suffering from those. Then we found some more pictures, and for a forty something, as opposed to a seventy something with shingles, it looked seriously likely.

"We've got some Zovirax in the cupboard." Said Hubby. Put some of that on it. Now Hubby is not a Doctor, but he is a Cambridge scientist, and unlike the Medics who I acted in plays with at university, he spent considerably more of his time at college in classrooms, and considerably less of his time out of his head. And um.... he was by no means sober all the time either....

Needless to say, when it comes to science, I trust his judgement.

I put some Zovirax on.

By morning, the rash had reduced so much, that by the time I went to the Doctor, he was dubious that it was indeed shingles. He did however listen to my self diagnosis.... and did concur that the other symptoms made it more likely, and that I should definitely be off work.

Just think, if it weren't for Freddie's mum I wouldn't have written this blog today.

So... thank you Freddie's mum.


Mary Alice said...

There are so many Freddy's Mums out there, splashing and cannon balling into the sea of life, completely oblivious to the ripple effects they create. May she get herpes off a toilet seat.

john.g. said...

We used to have chickenpox parties when i was a sprog!

Sally said...

Mary Alice - You are so funny! And so right!

John G - Yes I know. I was the third child though and was already regularly affected by tonsilitis. As such I think that my mother had got wise to the fact that childhood illness is miserable for all concerned, so steered clear of uninvited disease.. :)

ChrisB said...

Freddie's mum has a lot to answer for including thanks for a good post!

Eloise said...

Oh, Sally, what a dreadful experience you had. Certainly not how you want to welcome home a new baby! I'm glad everything worked out all right in the end, but someone should give Freddie's mum a thrashing.

So sorry to hear about your brush with shingles. I understand that can be terribly painful. So glad your case cleared up quickly.

Akelamalu said...

Freddie's Mum has a lot to answer for!

My grandchildren have all had chickenpox recently and thankfully I had them when I was a child as I don't relish the thought of having shingles.

Hope you're all better now m'dear.

Freddie's Mum said...

Sunflower Montessori in Twickenham, circa 1994? Glad to have been of service!


Sally said...

Thank you Chris!

Yes Eloise - I agree!

Akelamalu - Thank you. I hope you don't ever have shingles... but sadly shingles only happens in people who have already had chicken pox. Apparently the virus never dies, but sits there near your spinal cord, ready to reactivate at a time when your immunity is run down for some reason. It makes chicken pox even more annoying really. One that would be nice to avoid all together!

Freddie's Mum - Go hang!

Alice Band said...

Poor, poor girl! Shingles is shit. GPs should have that poster up on their surgery walls - that'd stop a few knob ends.
Wish I could help with the childcare. You will need a break after this Sal - please consider coming down. I will guard your children with my life (a favourite saying of my great aunt Bessie).

Karmyn R said...

This is another story which shows me how important being an advocate for yourself is so important. (I was thinking you could have gotten a 2nd opinion from a different doctor about the shot).

I'm glad there were no lasting health effects for your daughter!
I'd have liked to hunt Freddy's mum down and give her a what-for!

Sally said...

Hi Karmyn - Yes.... at the time though I was just glad to be through it all...

Hi AB - We would love to visit you one day..... I don't know when we could, but thank you!

Pamela said...

another good reason to have children get their vaccinations.

Sometimes it's other families who suffer!
I heard a story the other day about a family who had all their innoculations, but a child of another family who did not, got whooping cough. For some reason, a child in the family that did have their shots caught it anyway. Apparently a vaccine can fail. The 2nd child nearly died of complications and has to have special treatments the rest of his life.

Flower Design Jane said...

My two girls both had badly timed Chicken Pox when Jason and I (and both of them) went on our honeymoon, we did spend the entire holiday indoors but not for the same reason as most honeymooners!

Flowerpot said...

I hope you're still off work Sally! Take care and get better soon.

Grumpy Keith said...

I was dragged up during WWII and I think I had everything that was going at the time, chicken pox, measles, whopping cough as my mum called it, scarlet fever, yellow fever(?). There was very little vaccine or other medication available then. Most of it went to the front for the fighting men.

That's nothing the war you went through in the hospital!

Norma said...

Indeed, chicken pox is very serious for adults. I'm surprised your lady Dr. didn't know that. But it makes for a good story!

headless chicken said...

Oh dear Sally.....rest up while the kids are at school and get well soon!x

meredic said...

A nasty dose of the pox going round the forest eh?
I'm going down the M5 then....

elena jane said...

ugh ick and poor sally!! not fun at all....i had chicken pox twice....first time mildly at age 7, second time more severe at age 20. my kids are ALL vaccinated...and when the virus went thru the 2nd grade one year. my kid was one of the few who was spared (it was one of those horrid viruses that got everyone, vacc'ed and unvacc'd)...took out most of the 2nd grade. i was pg with smallgirlchild and totally paranoid!
hope you are completely recovered!

Ignorminious said...

I can't imagine how scary that must have been with one child after another going down with it!

I had chicken pox when I was 5 and took a week off school. It is one of only 2 occasions in my entire life when I have had a whole day off for illness. The other was a day off in year 7 because I was bed bound and vomiting. It looks pretty impressive on job application forms when I can honestly say that my last day off sick was 10 and a half years ago!

meredic said...

Happy Christamas Sally.
And the same to all your family as well.

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