It all started with a fever.
A simple day of not feeling well after traveling – but the next two and half weeks were anything but simple.
We had been around kids at the Usborne Books and More convention, and I thought my son, Forrest, may have just picked up a small virus and it would be done and over with after a few days. But it wasn’t. He spiked a fever the next night of 104 degrees and I instantly worried how high it would get by morning.
Thankfully, after several doses of Motrin, the fever finally broke. By the next day, though, he had broken out in a horrible, horrible rash. Apparently, our journey was not over. I knew in my gut he had caught Fifth’s Disease.
You might be asking – What is Fifth’s Disease?
Fifth’s Disease is a viral infection that is frequently found in children ages 5-15 years old. It is characterized by a high fever and a rash afterward. Most children get over it relatively quickly, and with no complications.
After the rash appeared on my son, we decided to take him into the pediatrician because we were leaving to go out of town again for a week and a half. The doctor’s office had us enter through the backdoor as a precaution, as the virus is highly contagious. And sure enough, it was Fifth’s. They said they had seen five cases in just the past few days.
How do you treat Fifth’s Disease?
Comfort care was what we were prescribed. It stinks because there is not much you can do about the disease but let it run its course. We gave Motrin round the clock for pain and fever, nursed frequently, and snuggled.
How long does Fifth’s Disease last?
It can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, but the fever thankfully goes away within a few days. His rash did hang on for about 2 weeks before it finally cleared up.
After Forrest’s fever broke, I thought surely the end was in sight since no one else was showing symptoms.
But I had dismissed it too soon. Remember how I said we were getting ready to travel again? Upon arrival to my parents to start our yearly vacation, my daughter Marci Ann had spiked a 104.5 fever on our four-hour car ride. Apparently, again, our journey wasn’t over.
It was Fourth of July, and sadly, she spent it pretty miserably. But once again, with pain meds and comfort, we were able to manage most of the pain.
And then it happened.
Three days later my poor husband started feeling sick. Headaches, body aches, fever, flu-like symptoms, and sore throat. Then the inevitable rash. Apparently, adults can get the virus as well. That little detail was not conveyed when we went to the doctor a few days prior.
We ended up learning that the symptoms in adults are usually far worse, and last longer than in a child. He was sick almost our entire week-long vacation with one symptom after the next.
And then, I got violently ill. I started aching what felt like was deep down in my bones. I spiked a 103-degree fever, but the body aches only kept getting worse. It was worse than my two pitocin-induced natural deliveries. The pain was endless and my body never could relax. We decided to go to Immediate Care after 24 hours to see if they could help break the fever or control the body aches.
My only option was a Toradol shot, but it’s not compatible with breastfeeding. We finally agreed to take the shot and that I would go buy a pump and formula to get me through the next 24 hours, upon which I could return to nursing.
I was disappointed when I slept for a few hours after the shot, only to wake up and start feeling the exact same as before. That evening I got desperate and decided if Benadryl could help control false labor, then maybe it could do the same for my aching. To my surprise, it gave me more relief for a longer period of time. So I continued on it, even through the day time, to finally feel a slight sense of normalcy.
By the next day, I was at least able to walk and ride in the car. My symptoms lasted about a week, including the rash I ended up getting (on my face at that). I was highly concerned at one point that my joint pain would not be ending anytime soon. We had read that the joint pain, especially in adult females, can last for weeks, months, and even years. I definitely had the longest-lasting symptoms and the worst degree of the illness. Yet, I am so thankful our children didn’t have to suffer through the intense symptoms my husband and I experienced.
What surprised us was that no one had mentioned adults could even get the virus! We assumed that since our children are way younger than most who catch Fifth’s Disease, we were probably handling them more than most adults, which exposed us even more to the disease.
Here is our PSA to parents: if your child contracts Fifth’s Disease, be proactive and vigilant about handwashing and exposure to your babies while they are contagious. We were not, and, boy, did we pay for it.