Scarlet Fever

April 21, 2011 @ 7:43 pm | Filed under:

Well! Wonderboy has scarlet fever. Which, when you’re raised on Mary Ingalls and Helen Keller, is a really alarming thing to hear about your own kid. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am SO GRATEFUL I live in the magical age of antibiotics.

Did you know scarlet fever is when you have strep and it causes your entire body to break out in a rash? Yeah, I didn’t know that. Strep! Half the kids in our circle of friends have been down with strep in the past few weeks—strep throat, I mean. I haven’t heard about anyone else having the rash. I suppose the rest of my kids are next. Looks like we’ll be spending Easter right here at home, this year.

Poor Wonderboy. Although he is indeed very fortunate to have antibiotics come to his rescue, they wreak havoc on his system. Alas, yogurt is in the category of Foods That Do Terrible Things to him. The next ten days may be a trial. It’s rotten timing, too. (I haven’t had a chance to write—because it was going to be a big long post, I felt certain—about the really big news as far as Wonderboy is concerned: he started school a few weeks ago. I know, right? Nutshell version is: we pondered the decision for months, and giving it a try was the right choice for about ten different reasons, and it’s going swimmingly so far. He’s in a very small—ten students counting him—K/1 special ed class with two aides and a teacher, and the school is literally on the other side of our back fence. He’s loving it. The rest of us miss him like crazy while he’s away, though this is balanced by the renewed opportunities to go and do things that had become quite challenging with our dear boy in tow. Other special-needs moms know what I mean. So…the rest of us are more unschoolish than ever, and Wonderboy is getting all the directed activities his heart desires. Which is to say: a prodigious amount.)

Anyway, he’s been out on spring break (after only three weeks at school), and sending him back on Monday with a week of antibiotic-induced gastro-intestinal distress is not a pleasant notion. Poor little kid.

I went to the drugstore to pick up his medicine and it turned into a 45-minute comedy sketch. I had some household shopping to do, so I had a whole cart loaded with stuff, and the checkout line was quite long. An elderly woman got in line behind me; she had a large package of toilet paper in her cart, and some sugar, and that looked like all, so I suggested she go in front of me since I had so much stuff. She looked very surprised and hesitated, seeming as if she were going to decline, but then she took me up on it and got in front of me. From that angle I could see that she actually had a whole bunch more stuff in her cart than I’d realized. Not as much as I had, but a lot. While we were waiting to move at a glacial pace to the register, another woman got in line behind me. All she had was a jug of milk. Really all, not merely apparently all. And there I was with my mountain of 972 tiny items.

“Pat!” she cried, and the toilet-paper lady in front of me turned and lit up with a big smile. They were friends. In fact, it seemed there was an impromptu reunion occurring at the Walgreen’s, because milk-jug lady said, “I’ve just been standing in the aisle talking to Louise for ten minutes!”

“Louise is here?” Pat peered down the candy aisle but evidently Louise was off gallivanting in Cough and Cold Remedies.

I felt awkward, standing between their warm reminiscences about that wacky Louise. Plus, you know: it’s just basic checkout line etiquette that if you have 1,786 items in your cart and the woman behind you has only one, you should let her slip in front of you. So I murmured to the milk-lady, “You should go ahead of me, you only have the one thing,” and she beamed at me and scooted next to Pat.

“She let me go in front of her too,” said Pat, sounding actually a bit disapproving, or suspicious, perhaps, of my excessive goodwill.

Milk Lady (I really feel I ought to know her name) said to me, “You’re going to be here all day if you keep THAT up!”

“I’m drawing the line right here,” I said, laughing, spreading my arms. “That’s it!”

“Louise!” cried Pat. I turned to see that another elderly woman had rolled her cart into line behind me just at the moment I’d made my declaration with outstretched arms. She looked bemused, as well she might. But she fell immediately into conversation with Pat and Milk Lady.

“Gloria,” she called to yet another shopper, a tiny salt-and-pepper-haired woman in hunter green slacks. “Look, it’s Pat.”

Pat and Milk Lady made their purchases and their farewells, and then at last it was my turn. Which, of course, took forever. But Gloria and Louise were deep in conversation and did not seem at all impatient as the clerk rang up my 3,964 items and helped me cram the bags back into the cart. Balancing on top was a giant orange rubber ball. Yesterday, while I was working in the garden, Rose was trying like crazy to pump up the last surviving bouncy ball in our possession, but Huck kept grabbing and running off with it mid-pump, cackling, and all the air would hiss back out, until at last Rose gave up in disgust. So when I saw the endcap display of Giant Bouncy Balls Only 2.99, I couldn’t resist.

As I pushed my loaded cart away from the counter, steering with one hand and balancing the ball on top with the other, I heard Louise say to her friend, “Oh, I miss those days!”

She meant my days, the days when your cart is piled with stuff because you have a bunch of little kids, the days when you’re an easy mark for sales of giant bouncy balls.

I drove home to my sick little boy and his bouncy-ball of a brother and their four vivid sisters, and I felt so glad not to be missing these days, even the scarlet and fevered ones.

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21 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. jen ambrose says:

    The hospital here in Beijing prescribed a companion pro-biotic powder for us to mix in juice for Brigid when she was recently on antibiotics. Since dairy is not as big a part of the Asian diet, the doctor automatically gave us this, with the advice not to give within two hours of any antibiotic dose. Brigid loves yogurt, so we ended up using very little. Do American pharmacies stock this kind of thing, too, for the lactose-intolerant? I hadn’t seen this before we moved to China, but we didn’t need it.

  2. sarah says:

    Oh poor boy! I hope he feels better soon, and that you don’t have too much worry.

    I loved your checkout story so much 🙂

    Congratulations on finding the right solution for Wonderboy and your whole family with regards to his education. It sounds just great. I hope he’s raring to go back to school after the holiday.

  3. Hooly says:

    You can get pro-biotics/acidofilis(sp?) in powder and capsule form. Used to be only at health food stores but pretty much any drugstore should carry it now.

  4. tanita says:

    Oh, no! I remember feeling quite panicky when my sister had whooping cough – it seemed so 19th century. I hope Wonderboy is better soon and that school continues to be a delight for him.

  5. Karen Edmisten says:

    Oh, poor Wonderboy! I hope he’s better soon, and the gastro-intestinal stuff all works out.

    The checkout story … 🙂 🙂

  6. Rebecca says:

    If any of your other littles get strep, then get the antibiotics right away to avoid scarlet fever. It’s great WB is on the meds now as they’ll make him right as rain in no time. The probiotics are a great option – they do have powder for children that you can mix into a fruit smoothie. That should help his tummy feel better. Also, sometimes you can get antibiotic injections instead of by mouth… bypasses the gastro track altogether. That might be something to ask the pediatrician about.

  7. Melissa Wiley says:

    Poor Stevie—it seemed to go from zero to sixty with him. No sore throat. When I called the dr because of the fever yesterday (and he said one of his ears hurt, so I was expecting it to be an ear infection), the rash hadn’t shown up. I actually noticed it while we were in the exam room waiting for the dr—his neck looked flushed and mottled, and I lifted up his shirt and saw he was covered with a rash.

    Looks like Jane is next in line. Sore throat and fever.

  8. Mary G says:

    You have such a beautiful way of writing! What a talent. Read this one to dh and we both loved it.

    Happy Easter and prayers for quick recovery for one and all ….

  9. KC says:

    I hope Wonderboy gets better soon. I’m glad to hear he’s loving school. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to do some things.

    Love the check-out story.

  10. MelanieB says:

    Scarlet fever! Oh my! Poor Wonderboy. I hope the stomach stuff isn’t too bad. I’d definitely give the probiotics a try to see if they don’t help. I’ve had to give them to Sophie because her stomach doesn’t like antibiotics either. In her case I give her a double whammy of yogurt plus the powder.

  11. mamacrow says:

    omg I feel exactly the same way about scarlet fever O_o My sister had it at university. Isn’t that what Beth (Little Women) had too I seem to recall?

    Hugs and healing vibes winging your way xx

  12. Lorri says:

    We’ve done the scarlet fever thing, too. One of my other children got strep but no rash and the other didn’t get sick at. I hope you can find something that will work for WB’s stomach.

  13. Christine M says:

    I hope he feels better soon and that not too many more get better. I remember once the doctor suspected my daughter might have Scarlet Fever – I had visions of quarantines and all that. Thank goodness for antibiotics!

  14. Annette W says:

    Reading any historical fiction makes me appreciate all that we have-esp medically.

    Get well, Wonderboy!

  15. Sue says:

    Lissa, I *love* this blog entry. It’s good that you can appreciate how special and fleeting these years are while they’re still going on. I look back on them now and wonder how I did it, but in a way, I miss them too.

  16. Ami Jones says:

    Poor kiddo! But only you could turn a post about a scary disease into something that makes Mommies feel all warm and fuzzy inside:)

  17. Sora says:

    A little over two weeks ago, my 7 year old’s sore throat turned into a retropharyngeal abscess (all better now, after 4 days inpatient for IV antibiotics and then 10 days at home on oral antibiotics). I found mini dark chocolate bars with micro-encapsulated probiotics at Whole Foods. She was thrilled. And apparently more of the probiotics in the chocolate make it through the stomach to the intestines (where you want ’em) than probiotics in yogurt and other dairy products.

  18. Penny says:

    My youngest had scarlet fever when she was 3 – no sore throat, no high fever, *just* the rash. It’s an odd thing, scarlet fever. And yes, hooray for modern medicine!

    WB’s school sounds like a great fit for him, I’m glad we live in a time of boundless educational opportunities too.

    Stay well! And good luck to Jane… may it be nothing more than a slight cold.

  19. Penny says:

    Alas, my comment was wiped out – my youngest had SF when she was 3 – no sore throat, no high fever, just a rash.

    WB’s school sounds like a great thing all around. I’m so glad you found such a great experience for him.

    Hope everyone is better soon. Good luck Jane!

  20. Carlie says:

    My little sister had Scarlet Fever once when we were kids. I remember it the romanticism of the occasion (I was raised Little House and Little Women and other hard times books that start with the word little). Didn’t know it was strep in rash form. Interesting.

  21. Jackie Parker says:

    Really great post, Lissa.