Yes, the youngest member of the family has finally caught chickenpox, about three weeks after a bout of it started going around her nursery.
It seems the entire town has been going down with it. It sounds terrible, but I’d been willing for her to get it sooner rather than later.
Not only are the symptoms much worse and prone to complications the older you get it, but I was also due back at work. As any parent will tell you, it’s on the day you’re about to move house, be at an unavoidable event or the first day in a new job that your offspring get poorly. Chickenpox is the confirmed long-haul childhood bug – a week at home, at least.
Bless her, we should have twigged that last Monday would be the start, when she was grumpily uncooperative at breakfast. She brightened up as soon as she saw her friends at nursery but by the time I collected her she’d developed three or four spots which the staff had recognised as varicella – chickenpox to you and me.
Some countries actually include chickenpox vaccine in their childhood inoculation programme, but in the UK they consider it a mild illness and most people have had it by the age of ten.
It’s thought that once you’ve had it, you’re immune, but there are plenty of people who’ll say they’ve had it twice. It’s best for pregnant women, new-born babies and those with low immunity conditions to avoid being around chickenpox due to possible complications.
Despite having been through it three times before with the boys, I couldn’t remember exactly what happened next. Do they get tired and go to bed? Feverish? How long do the spots last? Well, fresh from the battlefield, I’ll tell ya.
First the spots are red, then they blister (DON’T pop them, they’ll spread and leave white scars). Then they go cloudy and dry up with crusts (NO picking). Most of the spots appear on the face neck, around the hairline and on the torso, but you can get them everywhere.
Some children get very miserable with a fever, sickness and the spots can get very sore and infected. And the most contagious period appears to be before they even have any spots. Bonnie seemed completely well and was bounding around after the first 24 hours.
However, the spots kept coming. . .
Monday – She went to bed after a spoon of Medised with fewer than ten spots, and woke up with dozens.
Tuesday – I carefully gave her a bath and tried to get every spot covered with a splodge of calamine lotion. She looked in the mirror and said: “I is a ghost!”
Wednesday – spots were appearing in her hair, her ears and even on her gums and an eyelid, poor girl. I gave her some children’s allergy syrup (chemist’s own-brand Piriton) to reduce the irritation. We were both getting fed up of Peppa Pig repeats on TV. She was bored at home and desperate for the spots to go. So bored, that at one point when our backs were turned, she sneaked into our room and painted her face – and our bedsheets – with purple glittery cream eyeshadow and black mascara. Argh!
Thursday – I had an excruciating hour in the dentist’s chair booked, so Bloke took over the morning pox-sitting duties. I understand there was a lot of bribery involved during my absence.
By Friday she was totally crusty, and theoretically no longer infectious, so didn’t miss out on Billy’s eighth birthday party on Saturday. She wasn’t even scratching too much.
Then on Sunday afternoon, inexplicably, unexpectedly, somehow she managed to poke herself in the eye with toy plastic sunglasses. She spent the entire night waking and wailing as her tears made the swollen eye even more sore.
Even as I’m writing we’ve been trying to persuade her – while she’s in screaming banshee mode – to take some Calpol and try a cold compress on it. She’s now tucked up, finally asleep, sprawled across our bed. It’s going to be a long night . . .
. . .UPDATE. . .
Back to school after a week off, and she still has slight fading marks after 14 days. . .