Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Adults: Getting Sicker (Part 3)
Here is Part 2.
I made a post-hoc judgment call and decided that Day 1 of coxsackie/HFMD was on Wednesday, December 28. (That's described at the end of Part 2.) That's when I started to feel awful, even though it took another couple of days to get spots.
I woke up on Day 2, Thursday, December 29, feeling less hot and maybe slightly less achy all over my body. I took Tylenol as soon as I got up, on an empty stomach. The idea of eating was kind of repugnant to me. I was a little bit nauseated and not at all hungry. I...think I ate some yogurt that day? I spent most of the day in bed. I forced myself to get up every few hours to drink a glass of water. After the yogurt, I took some ibuprofen.
I posted this to Facebook:
I was very tired, but not at all sleepy, if that makes sense. That night, I wasn't hungry, but wanted to take ibuprofen on a not-empty stomach. So I very painfully ate some chicken and rice that my sister had sent home with me (thank you!), and (painfully) took more ibuprofen. The ibuprofen helped my sore throat a tiny bit, but not much. Tylenol did nothing at all for my throat.
I didn't feel hot or cold again until the evening, when the alternating sweaty and shivering thing happened again. I think it's called "fever and chills," but I don't know if I had a fever above 99.5˚F. It didn't feel good, though I think moderately better than it felt on Wednesday night! I think maybe Tylenol or ibuprofen helped this a little? I don't know.
The main feature was now my very sore throat and total exhaustion/lethargy/malaise. I still had no spots.
I woke up on Day 3, Friday, December 30 with a very painful sore throat, at 7 am. I think my throat woke me up. Drinking water made me want to cry, but I got up and choked down a glass of water and some Tylenol. I didn't think I could choke down yogurt. I didn't want eat anything at all. The thought felt repulsive.
I thought I might have strep throat, since my throat still hurt a lot, was unresponsive to analgesics, and I didn't have any spots at all. I didn't want to go into Shabbat without antibiotics if I had strep throat, regardless of whether I also had coxsackie/HFMD. (I still (!) thought I might or might not.) So I decided to go to urgent care.
I thought I should eat before I went to urgent care. I found some kefir in the fridge and drank it, with a lot of pain.
As I was getting dressed to go to urgent care, I saw a small spot on the side of my left-hand middle finger. It looked like this on Day 3:
|Day 3, tiny raised spot on left middle finger|
Unfortunately, I had absent-mindedly scratched it a couple seconds before my brain kicked in and I realized that it might be a HFMD sore.
From my online research, I had deduced that the sores tend to pop up where one has skin issues, calluses, or abrasions. I had also deduced that it was best to avoid scratching them if one could. It wasn't even that itchy, just a little itchy, but right after I gave that spot a scratch, it kind of popped up and became more prominent.
I don't usually get random blisters on my fingers, and so when I saw this is when I first fully acknowledged that I had HFMD.
I still thought that I also might have strep throat, since my throat hurt so much. I had not heard of a 3+-day-long sore throat as being a feature of coxsackie/HFMD, although I later learned that a friend had a sore throat for a week. I looked at my throat in the bathroom mirror and didn't see any sores, just red, swollen tonsils. I also didn't feel any sores inside my mouth.
Off to Urgent Care I went! As I was walking there, the finger with this sore got a weird buzzy/numb/tingly feeling in it. That feeling came and went in this finger, but felt more weird than bad.
I felt hot and gross sitting there. I waited an hour and 15 minutes to be seen by a physician's assistant.
As I waited, I was absent-mindedly looking at my hands and saw a few more spots pop up, all on my left hand:
|Left hand, Day 3, at Urgent Care|
There was also a fourth one (barely) visible on my left hand, from a side view:
|Left hand, Day 3, at Urgent Care|
My temperature was 97.5˚F, which is a bit low for me. (I tend to run 98.6˚F when I am not sick, and feel truly awful at 99.5˚F, which for some people is barely a fever at all.)
The rapid strep test I had at urgent care came back negative. The doctor took a look in my throat and noted that it was "very red." He didn't see any spots inside there, anywhere, of any color. He was willing to prescribe antibiotics on the chance that it was strep throat (which he thought was likely), but I wanted to get a culture and check before taking any, since there was no point in taking antibiotics for coxsackievirus. So they took a second culture and I went on my way.
As I was walking home, I felt a blister on my foot, on my left arch. When I got home and took off my shoes and socks, I could just barely see a little white spot on my left arch, and also noticed a second spot elsewhere on my left sole:
|Day 3, two barely-visible spots on my left foot|
I also ate two Popsicles that night, which felt amazing on my still-very painful sore throat. I also choked down a schnitzel, which hurt a ton and felt like sandpaper on my throat. Drinking water was still very painful.
I got sweats and chills again that night, but not as bad as the previous night. I put moisturizing lotion on my hands again before going to sleep.
I had set up hot water for Shabbat, but the idea of consuming anything hot was...bad. I stuck with cold things, which seemed like a better idea given my throat pain.
I woke up on Day 4, Saturday, December 31, with the skin of my lips peeling off in a few sheets. It didn't hurt at all; it was just weird. I had been putting lip balm on my lips whenever I put moisturizer on my hands and feet, since I figured that keeping the skin protected and in better shape might help ward off sores or blisters. I've had chapped lips before, but this wasn't that. The top layer of skin on my lips was just peeling off. Oh, well.
I also had more spots on my hands and feet, and the spot on my left middle finger had increased in size a lot. It was now a large, fluid-filled blister, which I endeavored not to touch.
There was also a new, small blister on my right middle finger, where I have an old callus from years of taking copious notes by hand:
|small blister on right middle finger|
I found that the only thing that was comfortable to eat was cold, plain yogurt. I had 2% Greek yogurt. Putting a spoonful in my mouth and closing my mouth on it and letting it just sit there felt heavenly. I also ate two more Popsicles, which felt amazing.
I was extremely exhausted all day. I felt like I could barely move.
Later on Saturday, December 31, I found or felt sores on my back and abdomen, but they didn't hurt or itch. My throat continued to hurt a lot, and I had little-to-no-appetite. I kept forcing myself to down a glass of water ever so often. On Saturday night, I went to a grocery store and bought a loaf of bread, some bananas, chocolate pudding, more Popsicles (I was almost out), and ice cream. Sadly, ice cream did nothing for me. It was uncomfortable to eat and didn't help my throat or mouth nearly as much as yogurt or Popsicles did. Popsicles seemed like the gold standard for inflamed-mouth relief.
As I was out and about on Saturday night, my hands didn't feel great. They felt a little achy and swollen, although they didn't look swollen. My feet hurt. Since my Friday afternoon, post-urgent care photo, the blister on my left arch had gotten larger and fluid-filled, while the other one was mostly just larger and redder. I was unable to get an in-focus photo, but this gives some general sense of the state of things:
|Day 4, larger blisters on left foot|