On Monday night, December 26, I felt a little hot, especially in my face, and my hands felt a little itchy, but I thought I was just imagining things! Because adults don't usually catch it, and if they do, they're often asymptomatic, and I'd been so careful about washing my hands well. My neck felt sore that evening, from the inside, but I didn't think much of it, since that happens to me sometimes, when I sleep funny or am stressed out.
Because I had been thinking of staying over on Tuesday anyway, to see my step-nephew on Tuesday night, I offered to stay and babysit for my sick-with-hand, foot, and mouth disease-niece "N" all day on Tuesday. My brother-in-law and sister were going to try to find a babysitter for her for Wednesday and Thursday. (My sister was off from work again on Friday and Monday, and my parents were coming and could care for her on the following Tuesday and Wednesday, so that was all the coverage they needed.)
On Tuesday, December 27, I got up and no longer felt hot at all, although I had a slight headache that responded to caffeine and ibuprofen by disappearing.
My brother-in-law found a babysitter for half of Wednesday (I would cover the other half of the day) and all of Thursday, but when he told her what N was sick with, she backed out:
That day, N was kind of cranky and cried a lot. She took one standard, two-hour nap a bit earlier than usual, and was so tired later in the day but wouldn't really sleep. She doesn't usually like to drink water, but she drank a lot of water all day. She didn't eat so much.
I babysat all day, and was very tired at the end of it. But I figured that was just what usually happened when you hung out with an active toddler all day, and posted this to Facebook:
On Tuesday evening, December 27, I felt two small sores in the front of my mouth. Like canker sores. They were small. One was white. I don't often get things like this, and it seemed like it would be a huge coincidence if it wasn't related to my niece's HFMD. Also, my neck felt sore again, but, as I said before, that happens to me sometimes, so I didn't think much of it.
N was feeling much better on Wednesday than she had on Tuesday. She also didn't wake up at all on Tuesday night, for the first time in about four days. She was more interested in eating, and less upset by everything.
I was tired on Wednesday and feeling a little glazed-over, but still thought it was just childcare-related exhaustion. However, I was definitely counting down the hours from 8:30 am until my sister got home at 6 pm. I felt weirdly listless and bored. I continued to wash my hands obsessively, especially after diaper changes and before eating anything.
On Wednesday evening, December 28, I could have run for the 6:30 pm train home, but I kind of felt too tired to run. I had to pack, and I felt like it was a little bit hard to stand. Not like I was dizzy, just really tired.
We decided that I would not run to pack, but pack more slowly and someone would drive me to a later train, maybe one that wouldn't require transferring in the middle.
I packed my stuff up, and as I did, my face felt hot and I didn't feel good, but not in a specific way. Just in a "Huh, I don't think I can take a train and a subway and walk a block home right now." I considered sleeping over another night, but that also did not seem like such a tantalizing plan. My sister took my temperature; it was 99.3˚F. Or 99.6˚F. Her not-very-accurate forehead thermometer gave two possible readings.
My sister offered to drive me home, and I gratefully accepted. I felt like I was being a wuss for just having a low-grade fever. But as she drove me home, about a 45 minute ride, I felt increasingly nauseated and like every part of my body ached. I ached like I had the flu. I didn't think it was the flu, since I'd gotten a flu shot. My throat started hurting a lot more, every time I swallowed. On the ride home, I told my sister that my throat hurt, and maybe I should take some zinc when I got home, in case I was getting a cold. I also told her that I was really nauseated. She blasted the cold air for me, which felt good. My head started hurting again.
I dragged myself into my building and up to my apartment (in the elevator), and got right into bed. I felt too awful to light Chanukah candles and thought maybe I'd just wait until I felt less hot and nauseated and achey.
Well, that didn't really happen. So I got up and lit and posted to Facebook again:
I forced myself to stay in the kitchen until the candles burned down, and tried to drink some water. I was very tired and achy. I had absolutely zero appetite and the idea of eating food made me vaguely nauseated. I still (!!!) wasn't convinced I had coxsackie, since I didn't have any spots on me and thought it usually started with a "real fever," and my temperature was only a little bit high, barely a fever.
After the candles had burned out, I got into bed, thinking I'd fall asleep right away, since I was exhausted. Instead, I alternated shivering and sweating for hours. I kept shoving the warm comforter off and then pulling it back on top of me.
At 2 am, I got out of bed, drank more water, and downed some Tylenol. (I didn't want to take ibuprofen on an empty stomach.) I hadn't taken Tylenol earlier (foolishly!), because my fever wasn't that high and I thought I would fall right asleep as soon as I fell into bed. Also, it hurt a lot to swallow water, the idea of swallowing water + hard pills was almost too much to contemplate. But at 2 am, it seemed like a good idea.
My throat hurt so much. Plus, the Tylenol didn't really help the sweats and shivers. Or the body aches. I slept fitfully that night and totally understood why my niece N had woken up crying several times in the middle of the night the previous Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights! I had no spots.
Still, because of how awful I felt on Wednesday night, I decided to call that "Day 1" of HFMD.
Part 3 is here.