Post Halloween Pox

I hope everyone had a good Halloween.  Now it is time to gear up for the end of the year holidays.  I have a tale of a memorable November a while ago.  First let us start with a picture of MathMan in his Red Ranger costume that I made when he was four years old:

Healthy looking but infectious!

Isn’t he adorable?  His big brother was the Blue Ranger, and I put little white felt cutouts on their baby sister’s pink onesie to turn her into the Pink Ranger.  Halloween was very busy with a visit to the grandparents and then going trick or treating at the local mall (and hitting up some of the neighbors).

Then we found something out the next day…

With BigBoy in kindergarten, I took both MathMan and the Linguist to her six-month well child check-up.  As we were leaving I mentioned that chicken pox was going around MathMan’s preschool, but he had had a rash and fever earlier in the spring and was over it.  Then the doctor and I saw his neck, and there was a pox.

MathMan had chicken pox.  And the doctor was not pleased that a sick kid was in their offices.  Obviously the rash and fever he had a few months before was not chicken pox (or a too mild version).

Look at the picture again.  Does that look like a sick child?  I am horrified to think of all the children that were exposed while at a mall full of little kids.

Then life got more fun.  At that time BigBoy was getting twice a week speech therapy, and MathMan was getting therapy to help his language delay.  He got a half-hour at the school plus twice a week hour appointments at the university’s speech and hearing clinic with student therapists.  First we had to cancel two weeks of therapy for MathMan, then when BigBoy had his appointments I had to illegally leave MathMan in the car while I rushed his big brother into the clinic.  At least I could sit in a nice parking lot at that clinic.

Just as MathMan recovered after two weeks of calamine lotion and oatmeal baths, it struck both BigBoy and the Linguist.  Now BigBoy’s therapy sessions had to be cancelled.  The easiest child to potty train, BigBoy, was so sick he starting the wet his bed, which further inflamed the pox.

Obviously the Linguist was not protected by still being breastfed, and having cereal mixed with breast milk.  Well, there goes that myth!  Plus this baby who had been sleeping through the night could not because of the pain.

The university speech and hearing clinic did not want MathMan to miss anymore sessions because his student therapist needed those clinical hours.  Because there was no convenient parking nearby, I had to go to their load and unload zone with MathMan with both BigBoy and the Linguist illegally in the parked car, and wait anxiously for the therapist.  Then get in the car, run around for an hour and come back to the load and unload zone hoping the therapist had MathMan in the lobby.

Somehow we survived that month through the sleep deprivation, schedule mania and daily sheet washing.  Then in December one of the first things that happened when BigBoy got back to school was a field trip to the Pacific Science Center.  It was a very small group because at least half of his class was still out with chicken pox.

Before the Linguist was born I actually got nostalgic for the days when kids got their childhood diseases.  I lamented that the only one left was chicken pox.  I regret that now, and would never wish two weeks of pure misery to be experienced by any child.  Unfortunately my kids got it the year before the vaccine was available.

I found a photo of the Linguist as she was recovering, and now remember how bad she was.  I am still shocked at the pox near her eyes and on her scalp:

Yes, compared to measles and polio it is a mild disease.  Yet it caused a full month of discord in our house.  Luckily I did not have to deal with employment issues, but not every family can endure two to four weeks no pay (not every place has sick leave).  The school was disrupted by over a month of absences of the lower grades.  One of the children in the special education preschool was hospitalized.  Also, being one of the schools near the Children’s Hospital there were siblings of children with cancer with immune issues, they were not allowed to come to the school during the full time of the outbreak.

Some more information:
Mayo Clinic Chicken Pox information from identifying to treatment.
CDC Pink Book Varicella Chapter
A Singularly Tragic Tale
More Sad Tales

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10 Responses to Post Halloween Pox

  1. isles says:

    Even with the pox, that is one adorable baby! MathMan too! Mom clearly knows her way around a sewing machine.

  2. Jen. says:

    Great post. I still say that the one discovery to further women in the workplace is the vaccine. Not The Pill, not breast pumps. Vaccines.

  3. Jan Andrea says:

    I was so glad when the vaccine came out. I remember having chicken pox when I was 7 — still have a few scars, actually. Knowing I could spare my kids that? Yeah, I’ll give them a jab. Even if it’s not fatal, it’s two weeks of misery.

  4. Chris says:


    Actually, for some working parents there are specialized sick kid day cares at some hospitals. Unfortunately they are very expensive. Some employers do offer access as a benefit, but looking at a local one, it is very few employers. And not even the biggest companies.

    But you are right, Jen. Vaccines have reduced sick days. I remember that there were several school years that I had to spend more than a week at home. I had so many infections in first grade, including hospitalization, that I had to repeat that grade. Then in eighth grade I was out for five weeks with pneumonia. Fortunately I was old enough to home school myself.

    The other issue are kids who have immune disorders, or are siblings of those children. They must stay away from the school for about a month.

    The school did send home a letter requesting that all kids who were sick to stay home, but has you can tell varicella can be spread before there are any symptoms.

  5. Simon says:

    The UK doesn’t offer Varicella Zoster vaccine as part of the routine vaccine schedule. The reason stated is children reinfecting their parents and carers helps prevent Shingles in older people. This reasoning is interesting, but I remain unconvinced. Unfortunately as a result the vaccine is not widely available, I shall write to my doctor asking is he has considered offering it privately as there seems to be demand amongst parents locally.

    • Lexi says:

      It’s true that re-exposure protects adults frm Shingles. There’s been an increase in Shingles cases since the Varicella vaccine became part of the schedule in the US. Lucky for us, there’s now a Shingles vaccine available now. So, we can protect kids and adults.

  6. Enkidu says:

    That’s some circular logic in the UK. Keep the infection going in the young to protect the old… who were infected while they were young. Why not vax against both chicken pox and shingles and be rid of it in a few generations?

  7. Thanks for sharing your story, Chris. It’s worth saying over and over than as far as childhood rights of passage go, a punch in the nose from the neighborhood bully is preferable to varicella.

  8. mamamara says:

    Right on. Just because it’s not polio, doesn’t mean it’s not worth eliminating! I’m incredibly amazingly grateful that my little guy had the vaccine and his case consisted of 15 bumps that looked like mosquito bites.

    Near the eye is scary. Yikes.

    • Chris says:

      I found out later how dangerous chicken pox is for babies. We were fortunate, and she has no eye problems. We just spent the evening making rosettes for an exchange student’s going away party. I am thankful to get an hour of cooking and talking with my teenage daughter in so many ways.

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