Chickenpox – it’s complicated…

It’s been a spotty week for us – chickenpox has descended upon the little ones. It’s a strange thing – every parent hopes their children will catch it; after all, it’s much better to have it in childhood than as an adult. But when chickenpox finally comes, it’s horrible. Tiny hasn’t been too bad – spotty, itchy and grumpy. But Small has really suffered with a fever, pain and spots on his eyelids.

Unfortunately, I have had a cold and been feeling pretty rotten myself. But in spite of that, the first couple of days weren’t too bad. We survived, thanks to kids TV, ice lollies and calamine lotion.

But a question from a doctor friend sparked a whole new consideration: “Are you hanging out with the kids, and immuno-suppressed?” she asked, concerned. Eek, I hadn’t really thought about it. I had chickenpox as a child, so I assumed I was protected. But my immune system is dampened by both diabetes and arthritis medications, making me susceptible to a second bout of chickenpox or shingles (an nerve infection caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus).

At this point I did the worst possible thing and googled it. Waaah, why? Never, ever ask Dr Google! There were lots of panicky horror stories. Coming down from my panic I called the hospital and spoke to a nurse. She said there was an increased risk of developing shingles and I should watch carefully for symptoms.

In so many ways, the conditions I have make normal events into complicated ones with risks and consequences. I’ve really struggled to feel relaxed since finding out about the shingles risk. I keep second guessing every pain, every symptom. Is it the arthritis, the cold, or something else? In a way I am thankful that I didn’t know to be wary when the kids first got ill – there’s no way I can avoid cuddling them and looking after them anyway!

We’re going on holiday next week and the current situation has been playing out in my head like a flow diagram. What happens if the kids are still sick? If I get sick while we’re away? If I can’t take my meds so am sore? I know that it doesn’t help to worry about these things, but I find it impossible not to sometimes. The thought of going to a foreign country is frightening to me, which feels like a sad way to see your holiday.

So what has helped with this difficult state of mind? Here are some things I have done that have helped, but I still don’t have it cracked! I hope it’s something I’ll get better at as the kids get older.

  1. Get out of the house. I’m so bad at being in the house all day. So when the husband has been home I have taken any opportunity to pop out. Even just a trip to the supermarket to pick up milk makes a difference in refocusing my head. I went to church yesterday morning and it was great to have another focus and see good friends.
  2. Let other people know. I always worry that people will think I’m moaning, but I find it so helpful to share anxious thoughts. I messaged a bunch of good friends this week and it was just a comfort to know they were thinking of and praying for us. I was able to ask one of them to bring us some supplies, which was so helpful and made me feel less isolated.
  3. Make the most of the time. I haven’t been the best at making the most of it this week, but I have had lots of opportunity to spend time exclusively with Tiny and Small. Sometimes that has meant just snuggling in front of a movie. I have to keep reminding myself how precious this time is.

Since the weekend arrived I’m feeling more relaxed and less stressed about it all. I can only let the situation play out, and pray that everyone is well enough to go away next week!

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