When I was young, every time a local child came down with chickenpox my mother would drag me to their house so that I would get exposed and get chickenpox myself. As a nurse, she knew that chickenpox was a benign illness for children but had the potential to be much worse for an adult.
I loved the idea of getting chickenpox because it meant spending a week at home from school with my mom, eating bowl after bowl of MSG-laden Lipton soup and watching everything that channel 44 and UHF had to offer — endless episodes of the Brady Bunch, Andy Griffith reruns, Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo.
Unfortunately my mother was unsuccessful in convincing my body to come down with chickenpox. Not until 2009 as a grown woman in the middle of anatomy finals, with three small children, did I finally come down with chickenpox.
In fact, the children and I all came down with chickenpox at the same time. We don’t know where we were exposed; we wonder if it was someone who had been recently vaccinated with a live virus, since people who have been recently vaccinated can be contagious without knowing.
Ironically, the day I started feeling sick, I had dragged the kids to see a schoolmate with chickenpox so that my babies could get it. However, we couldn’t have gotten it from her because obviously that wasn’t enough time to expose us (10-14 days).
I didn’t die
I’m not going to lie. Once I started to get sick, it became a very tough week, but not in the way as you might expect. None of us burned a fever over 101. None of us was covered head to toe in miserable itchy spots, and only my middle daughter asked for oatmeal baths. Thanks to homeopathy, we had fairly mild cases.
For me, the absolute worst part about having chickenpox as an adult was being stuck at home with my children for a week when all I wanted to do was sleep, drink tea, and read a novel. The fatigue I felt made my bones ache.
Instead of resting, however, I had to play referee to three incredibly bored and not very sick children who were didn’t understand why they couldn’t go to school. My poor daughter missed her birthday, not because she was too sick, but because I was generally too tired being day at home refereeing the same three children to make a birthday dinner and cake.
Those of you with small children are nodding your heads in agreement, because you know what it’s like to play referee. So how did I ever survive this nightmare?
As I mentioned, I’m sure that homeopathy helped to keep our cases mild. Homeopathy has been used for almost two centuries and is especially successful mitigating acute illnesses like chickenpox and measles (which is one of the reasons I’m not afraid of measles or any other childhood illness). Within seven days, we were all cleared by our family doctor to go out in public again.
Books, games and the outdoors also saved my sanity. We did not have a TV at the time, nor did we allow the children to watch movies on the computer, so they had to entertain themselves by looking at books, playing games and going outside. Luckily it was late May, and sitting outside in our backyard in the balmy spring weather playing with the chickens and cats kept up all of our spirits.
I was also fortunate enough to have some support in place to help me get through the week. From my physician, who made a house call the morning I discovered the spots on myself, to my then husband, who took over the refereeing, making dinner and putting the kids to bed when he got home from work and I would gratefully crawl into bed, I didn’t have to go it totally alone.
What’s funny, is that when my children came down with chickenpox, my own girlfriends brought their kids over to the house to be exposed to chickenpox so that they could build up their immunity and not get sick as an adult. I have to laugh at the irony, but we moms have an innate wisdom about what is right for our children. Nobody else got it, though, probably because of the warm weather, and they had to wait a full year until another child at the school came down with chicken pox for the next “party”.
As for me, I can safely consider myself part of the “Chickenpox Support Network” for the next unlucky soul whose three children get chickenpox at the same time!
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