It was only in the news that I learned about HFMD (Hand Foot and Mouth Disease). This was more than 10 years ago (or more). Ever since having kids - I have been very lucky to have never experienced this. Last year, when Kailee started her pre-school, one of the things our pedia warned us was that Kailee might get sick more since she will be in school. It's not the school per se that makes the kids, it's the other kids that carry the virus and it spreads with contact. No one is to blame really, so we were advised to load up on vitamins - I learned from a talk from Qualimed, that instead of Ascorbic Acid - we should give Zinc Sulfate, as this helps boost the immune system.
Last Monday, when Kailee woke up from her afternoon nap, my mom's helper said that she was a bit warm. I took her temperature and it was 37.3, it was a low grade fever. Luckily, there was no classes the next day. The next day, Kailee complained that she had owie in her mouth. I assumed this was because she loved putting her hands in the mouth - and you know how kids are, they're not very aware of cleanliness. I saw three mouth sores - two on the inside upper lip and one on the inside lower lip. I honestly just dismissed it since I thought it was just normal. I made her drink and eat what Fil-Chi's usually give when there's singaw - Chrysanthemum Tea. All along I though it might be *Di-Yet* Then something in me was pushing to google the symptoms. And so I did. I googled Mouth soures and low grade fever.
I was NOT prepared on the results I saw. HFMD - Hand Food and Mouth Disease. I was shocked and shaking my head in disbelief. How did my little girl get this? When? How? WHY?? So many questions in my head. So that night, I decided to text my pedia. She told me to see her the next day after lunch. I immediately decided not to let Kailee go to school - if my hunch was correct, I didn't want her to be the cause of an outbreak in school. I was getting paranoid already but kept my calm because friends said that sometimes, it might not even be HFMD. That evening, Kailee's temp was normal - but she was complaining that her mouth was ouchie.
The next morning, she looked a bit weak. She was crying when she was brushing her teeth because it was ouchie. We had to wait for after lunch to see the doctor - and she looked like this, she looked helpless and irritated.
When it was our turn to see the pedia - she took out a popsicle stick and started to check Kailee's mouth - and there were a LOT of singaw. She showed me and my gosh - that was the MOST number of singaw in a mouth that I have ever seen in my life. She confirmed it - it was really HFDM. My heart sank for Kailee. So that was the reason she wasn't as chatty - her mouth was really ouchie. Imagine for us adults - one singaw lang is already painful - what more if she had more than 6! The pedia said to her that she can have all the ice cream and popsicle she wanted and this somehow changed her mood.
I asked our Pedia how Kailee was got it. She said since she's in school - it might be that she was in contact with a girl who was already healing, or that she might have touched something that was exposed to a girl who had HFMD. Then our Pedia asked if we played dice game na raw. Yes, the most recent was in school. I honestly did not think of any connection with HFMD + dice game. I think my confused look made her explain - it was because during a dice game, there would sometimes be blowing the dice for luck - and imagine the number of hands the dice will have gone to! She was right, it was a possibility. But you know what, I won't go on blaming anyone or any event, these things happen.
What I did next was inform my family, then friends and then Kailee's class' Viber group. I needed to tell Kailee's class because honestly I want them warned (and also to eliminate the stigma that an impending outbreak was Kailee's fault) My good friend Kath was telling me that it wasn't Kailee's fault because for sure she got it from someone. HFMD wasn't something that just pops out randomly - she would have close contact with someone who has it already for her to get it. What's important is that I was able to tell my co-parents so that they can also watch out for signs.
Our Pedia didn't give out any medicine to take (to help cure the virus) - she said that the virus needs to run its course. She did prescribe a probiotic, E-Zinc and Iterax (in case Kailee gets all itchy). I made sure to buy an extra bottle of E-Zinc for Connor. I was also told to separate the kids - to isolate Kailee because she was contagious. And we did this when we got home. It was sad to see Connor looking for his atchi. We had to explain to him countless of times that atchi is sick and needs to be separated because we don't want him to get sick too. They only saw each other via Facetime and it was heartbreaking. I could hear Connor shout *I want to hug atchi!* It was really sweet since most of the time, these two are fighting.
This separation continued on until Friday night, when Yaya noticed that Connor had a singaw. Everyday, we would ask Connor has ouchie in the mouth - he repeatedly says that he was okay and there was no ouchie in his mouth. We were very strict on the isolation and no contact, Kailee was so kawawa since she was mostly alone in the room. So on Friday night, when yaya saw it, Yaya told me and showed it to me. I was scared to look at it but I had to look at it (it looked kawawa since it was small sores at the of his mouth near the tonsils). I asked Connor again if it was painful, he still said - no ouchie, I thought *Aba! Matapang!* I sent a message to our Pedia and she said to follow what I have been giving Kailee. I also informed Connor's class about this.
I am so thankful that despite being sick - Kailee's appetite was still good. One thing though - she wanted to eat just one dish - one dish, and that's the Vietnamese Pho from Tra Vinh. Hahaha!! She asked for noodle soup and so I ordered take out from Tra Vinh, and when she tasted it - she immediately declared it was her favorite - so imagine for the past 5 days, for breakfast, lunch and dinner - it was always the Beef Noodle Soup of Tra Vinh (I ordered Raw Beef Noodle and Beef Combination Noodle). That's the only thing she wanted to eat. I swear to you, there's a reason why it's my favorite! Here's the post on Tra Vinh from one of my favorite Instagram friends - Mark & Bianca of EATSplorations. Also, Kailee has finished almost 3/4 of a galloon of ice cream already. I had to tell her to stop eating it. So happy that she was still able to eat and drink (I had to buy straws!) despite her mouth being ouchie.
Today, Kailee's singaw are tiny ones na, the sores inside her cheeks are gone and what is left is on the lips. I gather she can return to school on Thursday. She misses school, she misses her classmates and her teachers.
One thing I learned is that - HFMD isn't as scary as what I expected it to be. I mean, it is but in my head it was magnified like 100times. We need to let the virus run its course, and watch out for signs and go to a good pediatrician for help. I'm very lucky to have a pedia that responds thru text and is very accommodating and reliable. I'm glad that I was paranoid enough to Google the symptoms, because at least I was able to eliminate Kailee from spreading the germs in school.
In all of this, Kailee has learned to wash her hands often. She also realized how much she loves her brother, that not being with Connor physically is lonely. When Kailee and Connor finally were given the go signal to be together, the hugged for a good 30 seconds. I wish it lasted more than that. You can see in both their eyes, their joy to be with one another again. FYI - after 15 minutes of that hug, well - they were fighting again. Hahaha!!
So there, to those who are unaware of HFMD and who have never experienced it - take it from me, it is scary at first, but it gets better. My friends have been very supportive and caring. Texting so very often to ask how the kids are and asking if I was okay. Apparently, adults can also catch the virus too! Crossing my fingers - I'm still okay. Another realization is that HFMD is quite common. A few friends said that their kids had it but they were unaware - I guess the severity per case is different. My friends made me realize this. I used to think that transmitting HFMD was quite complicated - it's actually the exact opposite! So what is the lesson learned? Well, load up on Zinc Sulfate to make your immune system stronger. And cleanliness - well, as they say, it's next to godliness, diba?