Don’t let the dumb Internet tell you otherwise.
With a quick Interwebs search of Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD), you’d think it is RARE that adults get this. LIES! All freakin’ lies. I’m here to tell you about the ugly side of it all! I honestly wish the Internet would update their verbiage and say that plenty of adults get it, but more tend to carry the disease without symptoms.
There are so many more people in this world suffering from much worse things than HFMD. I get that. BUT, this shit is the worst. I don’t wish this on anyone. It is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve experienced in a long time.
All that being said, these days I try to see why something is brought into my life. What lesson was I supposed to learn? What I’ve come up with was that it was the world’s way of telling me to slow down and also show compassion for children. The last one was hard for me to understand because I love kids. But do I show compassion for them? Possibly not, but I will more so now!
SUNDAY: Exposure Day
Unknowningly, I happily spent most of the day with the culprit.
Symptoms – None
WEDNESDAY: Notification Day
File, ‘you were exposed to HFMD last weekend,’ as one of those things you never want to hear. Of course, I was assured that it’s a children’s disease and that it’s “rare” for adults to get it. I went straight to the Interwebs to Google the hell out of it and yes, I was frightened! As any normal adult should be. I happened to let the office know what I was told, just in case…
Symptoms – None
THURSDAY: Infected, Day One
I woke up at 4 AM to one of the worst sore throat’s I’ve ever had. I restlessly tried to sleep until my alarm clock went off at 6 AM. I was so confused about why my body felt so exhausted and achy. I didn’t have time for this, I had a huge presentation at work, along with plenty of other plans for the upcoming long weekend.
Fastforward to finishing a great presentation and feeling semi-decent. I’m sure the loads of meds I took and coffee were helping. I decided to stick to my commitment to donate blood too. Dumbest idea ever. I didn’t have a fever, so I thought all my symptoms were manifesting from underlying stress from the presentation. I’ve donated over 25 times and I’ve never been as cold as I was this time. I thought it was odd.
Post donation I was freezing, shivering, and had the biggest goosebumps up and down my arms. This didn’t stop while I got to my desk and tried to work. Then I noticed how weak I felt. I finally threw in the towel and told everyone I was going home. Again, still trying to ignore the fact that something was really, really wrong. I gathered my stuff and headed home.
I have never felt that weak and out of it in my life. I couldn’t even pick up the package at our front door. I took my ass to bed, only to awaken a little later with a fever of 102 degrees. I knew I needed to eat, but I didn’t want to leave, but I eventually ran to the store for soup and a fresh juice. I’m glad I did, but the juice ended up hurting my throat more than making me feel better.
I had a fever on and off for the rest of the day. I slept and laid there, becuase I had no energy to do anything else. I drank as much water as I could, because I knew dehydration was a huge possiblity.
Symptoms – red dots on the top of my mouth, white spots on the very back of my throat, sore throat, fever, flu-like symptoms, achy body
FRIDAY: Infected, Day Two
I woke up at 3 AM drenched in sweat with another spike in 102 fever. Tried to cool off, drank some water and continued to sleep.
I think I woke up again around 8 AM and my body felt like it was at its normal energy capacity. My sore throat was still there and hurt. At this point, I was continuously looking up HFMD on the internet. I was doing all kinds of search varieties to see how it affects adults, even looking at some very grotesque pictures. I was preparing for the worst.
The rest of the day I rested and stayed hydrated. My throat was sore and I kept taking Ibuprofen and Tylenol Severe Flu, even though I wasn’t sure what my sickness was. But it seems as if I was just in denial!
Symptoms – red dots on the top of my mouth, white spots on the very back of my throat, sore throat, fever
SATURDAY: Infected, Day Three
For over a month, I had an out-of-town soccer tournament scheduled for this day. My body felt like it had energy, even though the sore throat resonated. The day before, I kept going back and forth about if I’d go or not. But I didn’t see any spots or open sores, so I thought I’d get out of the house. Of course I was going stir crazy by now.
I woke up with my hands feeling really weird, and it was progressively feeling more uncomfortable. If I can describe it in any way, it was as if the tips of fingers would switch between a burning sensation, itching like crazy, or feeling like they were being pricked. They looked really red, but no spots.
I had a blast playing soccer, but it was a little awkward because I wouldn’t shake anyone’s hand and I tried to keep to myself so I wouldn’t share any germs. From my research, HFMD is highly contagious, but not generally at the point I was at, especially without any open sores anywhere.
I was a step behind the entire tournament, but I had fun and am glad I went. However, progressively throughout the day, my hands were starting to become unbearable. I kept fidgeting with them, in hopes to relieve the uncomfortableness. If I applied pressure on them they felt a little better. I was exhausted from the day and didn’t grab dinner with Lil and Dad. I was happy when we were finally home. I ran by Target to see if Benadryl would help since there was nothing external going on with my hands, I thought maybe Benadryl would help the internal issue.
I’d also like to say, I’ve never felt closer to being a Pokemon or superhero character before in my life. I felt like I could throw fire from my fingertips. This is the easiest way to describe the sensation that was happening in my hands. It actually makes it sound almost fun, when it was anything BUT that! But if you had to imagine what I was feeling, I hope that gives you a glimpse.
Symptoms – red dots on the top of my mouth, white spots on the very back of my throat, sore throat, burning/itching sensation on hands
SUNDAY: Infected, Day Four
I had the worst night of sleep, if you call it sleep. I took three Benadryl and it didn’t help one bit, no sleepiness like it normally induces. I grabbed a cool waterbottle and put my hands around it, but that is really hard and awkward to fall asleep with. At some point I got a few hours of sleep.
The Parentals had purchased tickets to Aladdin months ago and today was the day we were supposed to go. I was NOT missing this. Again, no open sores and the highly contagious time was leading up to and during the fever, so I went.
The redness on my hands had subsided and red dots were starting to show. But not like many of the images on I saw on the Interwebs. They essentially looked like red blisters under the skin. I already have really dry hands from Eczema and callouses from the gym, so my hands are already fairly messy. But this just added to the chaos. I haven’t really talked about my feet, because I couldn’t tell if the slight pain I was feeling was from soccer. My feet usually end up with a blister or two after that much soccer. BUT, the red marks were starting to show up on the ball of my foot, on a couple of toes, and on my heels.
They hurt, a lot. The sore throat was fairly minimal at this point. However, the irritability level was high. Lack of sleep and full uncomfortableness of my hands was setting in. Aladdin was amazing and I was able to have dinner with my family, but by this day I was really effing tired of HFMD taking over my life and the long weekend.
Symptoms – red dots on the top of my mouth, white spots on the very back of my throat, sore throat, burning/itching sensation and red spots on hands and feet
MONDAY: Infected, Day Five
Again, my hands were hurting. They hurt when I would close my fists, but wouldn’t necessarily hurt when my fingers were straight. They were tender to the touch though. I would forget and grab something and I’d wince in pain. For some reason, both thumbs got it really bad. Almost the entire tip of both thumbs was glaring red with irritation spots. Again, the spots were under the skin, but there.
The night before, I posted a picture of my infected hands and told the world I had HFMD via IG. That is when at least FIVE friends messaged me back and said they’ve had it too! One even said he’s gotten it twice from his kid :/ Another one suggested I get some Turmeric oil because it is a natural antiviral. At this point, I was open to trying anything. I was popping Ibprofun like it was candy.
I knew I wasn’t in the highly contagious stage, so I continued with plans to go have some wine with a friend. It was a great distraction and the most perfect afternoon at a lovely winery. I even consoled my bruised Ego with becoming a member of the winery.
I guess this is a good time to talk about the shame of this infection. Technically, it’s a viral infection. But because of its awful name, many people judge you when you say you have it. I get it. I’m sure I’d judge someone too. But after having this, I will ONLY empathize with them. This shit is awful. So uncomfortable and painful AND I didn’t even have open sores in my mouth or on my body. I also didn’t get the rash on other body parts. I have been fidgeting with my hands a lot because I am worried people will see the spots and judge me. I have been so hard on myself, for no reason and I recognize this. I’m trying not to be, but it hasn’t been easy.
Symptoms – burning/itching sensation and red spots on hands and feet
TUESDAY: Infected, Day Six
Back to the grind. I was physically fine and had been going out and about, so I knew I could work. I fully anticipated my co-workers being skeeved out. I’d been very transparent with my team and also warned them to take precautions by washing their hands excessively for the time being.
The spots were bright and there, but most of the pain had subsided. I was just a red-spotted leper. The spots on my feet were actually the only thing that was standing out with any sort of physical pain.
Two days prior I was feeling the top of my scalp and it felt bumpy, but no pain. I thought maybe my fingers were showing weird sensations, so I just didn’t think about it. Until I noticed my scalp was peeling huge chunks of gross white skin from it. Also, I noticed my nose was really dried out and my ears were too. Again, another day, another symptom.
Symptoms – red spots on hands and sore red spots on feet and heels, peeling scalp, dried out nose and ears
WEDNESDAY: Infected, Day Seven
Dare I say I woke up with no pain? However, at this point, my fingers started to develop a new weird feeling. It’s as if my fingers were trying to heal themselves from the outside. It was as if I couldn’t quite feel the tips of my fingers, while also feeling like they were callousing over. Does that make sense? They were numb, but not. They felt hard and I couldn’t really feel anything. The redness had faded dramatically and there was no pain in my hands. The spots on my feet were still fairly red, but not very painful.
My scalp was still peeling, but a lot less. The pain had pretty much disappeared and my appetite was back in action. I even went to the gym!
Symptoms – red spots on hands and feet, peeling scalp, dried out nose and ears
So, there you have it. How a kidless mid-30-year-old woman got HFMD.
I can help you and save you some time. No Interwebs search needed. Here are the signs and symptoms for HFMD:
- reduced appetite
- sore throat
- feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- painful sores in mouth
- skin rash on palms of hands and soles of feet
The Interwebs also likes to say it is a common viral illness that affects infants and children under five. They also say it is common for kids under ten as well. And that it sometimes (they use the word rarely a lot) occurs in adults, but more than anything they are carriers and can have no symptoms.
The highly contagious time is when the child/person doesn’t even know they have it, which are the days leading up to the fever and through the fever. Well damn, no wonder this viral infection spreads so quickly and easily.
Let’s also talk about how there is no vaccinee or medicine that can help with HFMD. It is a viral infection that must run its course. You can use medication to manage pain, but it’s not that effective. A lot of people asked if I went to the doctor to be diagnosed, but I didn’t. I was checking off symptoms like it was a checklist and I didn’t really need to pay a co-pay or an Urgent Care fee to be told I had something I already knew I had. I did call the advice nurse twice, but it wasn’t really that helpful.
I am not mad at the little Lovebug that shared it with me. What good what that do? Also, the family had NO idea the Lovebug had the infection! It made me really sad for kids who get this because they cannot advocate for themselves. I can sit here and whine and write a blog post about it all, but an infant or small child cannot tell their parent how they are feeling. Which has to be so awful for all parties involved, and that isn’t even factoring the actual pain anyone feels. Overall, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. The uncomfortableness of it all is unfair to wish on anyone.
Getting HFMD is like waking up to a new painful symptom each day until it just goes away.
I wanted to blog about this, becuase when I was looking online, it was hard to find adult expereinces. There were a handful of blogs, but that was about it. But I should remind you that each and everyone’s expereince seems to be vastly different. The friend I mentioned before who has had it twice, both instances were very different AND very different from my expereince. While you should use the symptoms and signs as a starting point, know this shit does what it wants, when it wants. HFMD listens to no one!
For the day I have a child(ren), I hope they never bring this home. I know the likelihood of that is slim, but a girl with red spotted hands can pray and hope, right…
Quit believing the lie that HFMD is ‘rare’ in adults…