Friday, May 8, 2009

Fifth Disease

A couple of weekends ago, I started to experience quite a lot of pain in my hands and feet. At first I thought I had arthritis (my mom has it), or then my mind leapt to all sorts of worse-case scenarios like lupus. I blame Mike for this tendency to think the worst when I feel under the weather! (Love ya, honey!)

This tendency is not helped by the fact that as I'm getting older, more people I know are developing serious illnesses. Last year a guy I know--in his 30s--developed multiple sclerosis. Last month, the husband of a dear friend of mine had a tumor (the size of a golf ball) removed from his brain. He's not yet 40. A number of friends and relatives have survived breast, colon, and other forms of cancer. Shit happens. Hence my tendency to jump to the worst-case scenario (guess it's not all my DH's fault...).

The Monday after the aforementioned pain began, Mike took Kieran to school. He had unusually pink cheeks, but our children also seem to have sensitive skin, so that's what we thought it was. Fifth Disease (also known as "Slapped Cheek") had been going around the school. His teacher sent him to the nurse, who diagnosed it immediately. While there, Mike was talking to some other parents whose children had been through the Fifth Disease routine, and one mom told him that she had gotten it too, and it manifests itself in adults as horrible joint pain and swelling.

Bingo. When he came home and told me this, I was actually relieved! By the time the symptoms appear, you are no longer contagious. It's not dangerous to anyone except for pregnant women (during the incubation period, that is), and I had not been around any pregnant women.

The bummer about it is that in older kids and adults, it can last for weeks to years! Nicholas also has it, and we've noticed the lacy red rash coming and going on both kids' skin. The joint pain flares up frequently and chronically, and I'm getting tired of it. It makes me feel like an old lady! Ibuprofen helps some. My hands, arms, knees, feet, neck, and toes hurt frequently.

But as I was discussing with friends today (one of whom will turn 50 next month), 50 is better than the alternative. With so many people facing crises, complaining about growing older (or having Fifth Disease) is pretty insignificant.

So now that I've done my complaining, I'll shut up about my joint pain...and just be glad it's not arthritis or lupus, which wouldn't go away...


  1. Oh no! I hope you all feel better on the shorter side of a few weeks. I'm like you - I almost always jump to the worst case scenario. In fact, when I was little I thought I had leukemia because I had a lot of bruises on my legs. They were just from playing outside a ton, but I worried about them for a long time! And it does seem like a lot of people are being diagnosed with serious diseases, older and young.

    Sending lots of get well wishes to Portland.

  2. Thanks Lizzi--I appreciate the get well wishes! It's really weird how the pain comes and goes...

  3. I got it in Feb, and had my latest flare-up last month. I'm 41 so the mean duration is abotu six months. It's no fun. : (