Snugglebug recently developed a strange rash, speckles, welts and bumps that erupted and scabbed over in a matter of days. Her temperature was normal, but when I had to wake my high-energy five-year-old at 10:00 a.m.—a full three hours later than she usually wakes me—the anxiety set in.
“It’s chicken pox. I just know it,” I told Mr. Wright.
“Yeah, she sure does look sick,” he replied, wincing at her high-pitched shrieks of abject joy as she climbed a mountain of dirty clothes in the laundry room to perch atop the washing machine.
Snugglebug received the routine chicken pox vaccination, but we’d been to a birthday party with a bunch of other kids only a week before. I imagined the virus, incubating in her tiny body and preparing to pop out with scabby blisters. It totally made sense.
I made an appointment with our pediatrician for a second opinion. After all, I’m not a doctor. I just play one in my own imagination.
As it turns out, her “scabulous” wounds were likely caused by an allergic reaction to brush and shrubs she came into contact with while playing outside, and her subsequent scratching of the resultant bumps. We have sort of a Lord of the Flies thing going on around here—children running wild, making their way in the out-of-doors—so the prescribed treatment of antihistamines and cortisone cream made sense, in the end, but that didn’t stop me from having the following discussion with the doctor, prior to diagnosis:
“The bumps just came out of nowhere, and became scabby within a couple days. She’s been sleeping more, and we recently attended a birthday party with a million kids running around. She doesn’t get to play with other kids often, because I work from home, and she doesn’t go to daycare, so I’m pretty sure she was exposed to some sort of virus at the party, because the symptoms started after that.”
The pediatrician nodded her head. “I understand, but it doesn’t look like chicken pox, and the lack of fever leads me to believe it isn’t a virus. The increase in sleep could be due to exhaustion or allergies, since she’s playing harder, and outside more. Besides, she’s had the chicken pox vaccine, so she should be immune.”
“Right. I know that, but I think you should know I’ve had chicken pox four times, and my aunt has had them multiple times, as well. People in my family don’t seem to develop an immunity to it, so you can see why I’m suspicious, and concerned.” My words elicited the standard response I get from medical professionals who haven’t seen my patient history—raised eyebrows, and a dubious if-you-say-so shrug.
“That’s all very interesting, but… Isn’t Snugglebug adopted? I’m not sure why your family’s medical history might play a role in her ability to develop immunity to the chicken pox.”
Oh. Right. Sometimes, I forget.