I have just crept out of the bedroom at 1150pm. A has been crying out in his sleep, thanks to the pain from the dreaded HFMD, and the husband has just medicated him.
Unfortunately, it is a sad reality of life for those of us who place our children in daycare. This time round, we have absolutely NO IDEA where Patient Zero Zac picked it up from. Nobody in school got it, we haven’t been to anywhere that germs and viruses propagate freely and joyfully – nowhere except the playground downstairs.
Anyway, we have sort of survived this current bout of HFMD even though it came at a cost. We had plans to head up north to Legoland for Zac’s birthday (SOB SOB) but everything had to be canned. The silver lining was that since husband and I had already planned to take leave, we were able to care for our sick littles without worrying about work.
We seemed to have gotten off easy in that it was a pretty mild strain. The boys didn’t run any fevers (which was why HFMD wasn’t at the top of our minds), the spots were minimal and the only issue we had was with the ulcers in the mouth. Even then, they were able to swallow, even if their appetites are not optimal.
The toughest thing was in trying to separate the two energetic little bulls. MY GOD, CAN DIE. Zac was hilarious, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t go near gor gor and was constantly trying to bulldoze/hug/wrestle/play with Aidan. We had repeatedly explained to Aidan why Zac couldn’t go near him so our day would be punctuated with screams of “Zac touched me!” or “Zac don’t come near me! No! AHHHHHRGH!” Then a bemused Zac would do something like headbutt his brother for screeching at him. Gah.
But yes. We survived. And I thought I’d share some of the things that I had learnt during this episode.
#1 Try TCM or alternative treatments
We have been going to a TCM physician on a regular basis, seeing that these two are constantly sniffling and coughing. Once we received the official diagnosis from the GP, I quickly made an appointment to see our TCM clinic. The physician gave Zac medicines to take twice a day to alleviate his symptoms and the rest of us once-a-day meds to prevent the virus from spreading.
While the husband and I have been spared (SO FAR TOUCH WOOD), Aidan hasn’t but I like to think that the medicine he had been consuming helped to lessen the severity of it. Zac also recovered pretty quickly, he was “discharged” on Day 6 after his symptoms appeared.
#2 Manuka honey and elderberry syrup
Whenever I have mouth ulcers, I will take a spoonful of manuka honey, neat, every day and night. I have found that the honey helps my ulcers to heal fast. With Zac, I made manuka honey with lemon water for him twice a day and I fed Aidan the honey direct.
A friend once taught me to use a non-metal spoon when spooning the honey out and also to never use it with hot water so I’ve been doing just that! Also, try manuka honey that has a Unique Manuka Factor of 15+ to 20+. I got mine – cheap-ish! – from iHerb, please use this code (OTI683) for a 5% discount if you are purchasing from the site for the first time.
I also feed them elderberry syrup regularly and this time, I doubled the dosage. I get mine from iHerb too and it’s so much cheaper there – our local shops charge so much that it’s almost criminal.
#3 Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise
Immediately after Zac was diagnosed, I texted Su-Lin from Our Lifestyle Shop to ask if she had any B-Sanitized in stock. HFMD spreads by direct contact with nasal discharge (ie. AH-CHOO!), saliva, faeces and fluids from the infected person. When we battled HFMD the previous time, B-Sanitised came in handy as we sanitised everything that Aidan came in contact with.
This time round, there was an even greater sense of urgency as we wanted to prevent Aidan from catching it too. Well. I mean, we were sort of resigned that he would eventually get it too, seeing how they were both happily drinking and spitting out their bath water during the incubation period (I know…don’t get me started…). But we tried anyway and the spray was fantastic.
Plus, she informed me that the shop was now selling a HFMD bundle, which included B-Sanitized, SafeHands and Total Solutions Foaming Lemon Scented Disinfectant. Both disinfectants were so easy to use – just spray (and then wipe for the Total Solutions product). We used Total Solutions on surfaces such as tabletops, chairs etc, while B-Sanitised went onto the things that my infectious brood touched. We also made sure to wash our and their hands with soap all the time, and sanitised with SafeHands frequently.
You could always use good ‘ol Dettol and water, obviously. But B-Sanitised and Total Solutions are gentle on the environment AND humans AND felines – plus Dettol is poisonous to cats.
#4 Feed them cold stuff
Seriously, while porridge and soups are great, the heat burns the ulcers. Trust me, I have had prior experience (yup, I am an unfortunate adult who suffered from HFMD). We fed them loads of yogurt – both frozen and homemade – and they also downed milk by the gallon. My mother brewed herbal tea that we kept in the fridge and I made (manuka) honey lemon. Aidan was able to scarf down noodles that had gone cold while Zac loved picking up his vehicle pasta one by one into his mouth. They also took cheese. So YAY. Whatever works okay.
Oh, and guess what – DO NOT FEED THEM CHOCOLATE MILK. Oh em gee. I tried that when I was ill and the after-burn nearly KILLED me. It was so, so, so, SO painful!
#5 Grin and bear it
The above tip sounds silly, right, I mean it’s not like we are the ones suffering from the pain. But oh, my friend, you are wrong. We may not be physically suffering but our hearts are bleeding. When your child cries at every other mouthful of food. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, screaming in pain. When he points to the spots on his feet and says “pain, mummy”. When he refuses to drink water because he is fearful. When tears are welling in his eyes because the medicine is bitter and he knows he has to drink it. When he cannot close his mouth because he just has that many ulcers and saliva is dripping down his shirt.
You hurt with them.
But you need to be strong. Illnesses, as I have discovered back when Zac was warded for a week, is a test of your strength. And in times like these, parents have to be strong. It’s never about wallowing in self-pity, it’s everything to do with planning your next step so that your children will get and feel better. You can’t feel helpless because they are relying on you. And you try, try, try your best to be cheerful for them so that time passes faster for them (and for you too).
In this respect, I have much to thank the man for. There were moments when I literally put my head down on the table to sigh silently and when I looked up, he was engaging them in some silly activity – like bouncing balloons off his head or wrestling with them. Or he’d be showing them videos of airplanes or warships or space shuttles.
Seriously though, I do wish we had more childcare leave. Because one bout of HFMD can really wipe out your yearly quota in one shot. We were lucky that my mother was willing to watch Zac on that one day that we could not take off from work but there are many others who aren’t as lucky.
Goodbye HFMD. I don’t want to see you around. And may you, my dear reader, never have to use these tips. EVAR.
(Disclaimer: I was given a bottle of Total Solutions Foaming Lemon Scented Disinfectant as part of the ambassador programme for Our Lifestyle Shop but purchased the B-Sanitised on my own.)