Monday 26 March 2018

Chicken Pox: The Tenth Circle Of Hell

Everyone kept telling me that the second sibling always gets chicken pox worse. I thought they were just being dicks. You know like when you’re pregnant for the first time and tired and people say, ‘ha! This is nothing, just you wait.’ Or you’re pregnant with your second and all anyone says is, ‘God, it is SO MUCH harder with two.’ Or when anything in your life seems hard and everyone says you know nothing, you haven’t seen pain but you’re going to and it will be terrible. Why do you all do that, by the way, you bunch of dicks.

Ebony was totally fine with the chicken pox. She barely mentioned having it, the pox completed their life cycle was little upset and have since faded into insignificance. The experience lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought chicken pox was easy. I thought it was no big deal. I thought I could handle it. Then Ember got it.

I have learnt three things from the experience:
  • 18 months is a bad age to get the chicken pox 
  • Siblings really do get a worse dose of it 
  • I do not cope well with being quarantined

Five days is a long time to be stuck in the house waiting for the spots to blister over. I actually managed to quarantine us for a few extra days because I was so sure the pox was going to come, so I have currently been stuck in the house for about nine days. We could probably have re-entered society on Thursday, but I couldn’t be bothered following her round playgroup explaining to the terrified looking mothers clutching their precious first-borns that, actually, she wasn’t contagious anymore. And then we could have gone out yesterday, but Ebony was ill, so I have been stuck indoors for way longer than was strictly necessary.

I have learnt a lot about the chicken pox. Here are the symptoms I noticed Ember exhibiting:
  • A slight fever Red spots that turned to blisters and then scabbed over 
  • An incurable anger 
  • An unwillingness to be put down even momentarily 
  • Complete indifference to all food except junk food 
  • An inexplicable need to peel but not eat many bananas 
  • Non-stop crying between the hours of 11pm and 4am 
  • Maternal insanity

Just looking at her made me feel itchy. Her tummy and back were covered in big red pox and her face reminded me of the more unfortunate kids from high school. She was itchy and angry. And it’s actually very hard to stop an 18-month-old from scratching her spots. I have no control over my toddler, I am willing to admit that. I can, on occasion, manipulate her into doing what I want but mostly I just chase after her muttering ‘fuck sake’ to myself while she does whatever the hell she wants. This usually works pretty well as a way of getting my steps up and ensuring she doesn’t throw tantrums.

It doesn’t work when she has chicken pox and an urge to scratch because, um, I actually have to stop her doing that. There is a risk of infection and scarring and also, it’s just gross. I found that keeping her fully dressed at all times helped. One problem we had was that she doesn’t really wear vests anymore, she’s usually in knickers now so we don’t have much need for vests and so she has outgrown pretty much all of them. She has three that fit but when they were in the wash she was forced to wear too-small vests that fit like crop tops, looked ridiculous and offered little protection to the angry bumps on her tummy. A lot of them got scratched. Some became inflamed and had angry red rings around them. I developed an obsession with sepsis and spent a lot of the week being worried. This is about as far as my maternal anxiety goes. I didn’t check her temperature or anything, I just worried lazily.

The nightly crying interfered with her sleep and meant she was taking huge naps in the day. Usually, I would be all for this because I would get some work done. But when I have had four hours sleep and haven’t spoken to an adult for five days, I’m not really in the mood for writing. And any writing I did do would probably just be an incoherent ramble of every thought I’d had since I last saw an adult which would not make for interesting reading and would potentially lead to uncomfortable conversations about my mental state.

So, for the past week, I have done no work. I have not had many conversations with grown-ups. I have slowly felt my mind crumble. I have worried that I was going insane. I have cried about how little sleep I have had. I have cried because I needed to make dinner with just one hand. I have cried because Ebony came in and started peeling the carrots so I could make dinner. I have eaten a lot of chocolate some of which was meant for Easter. In summary, it had not been a good week for any of us.

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