Disease, take a number!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about learning new things. So when the school nurse called on Tuesday to scold us for sending Little Miss to school with a rash (her father had put cream on it in the morning, thinking it was just a little heat rash from sleeping in the flannels she won’t give up), she ended with saying, “It’s all right though. It’s just fifth disease–once she gets the rash, she’s not contagious any more.”

Fifth disease? We’re putting them in order now? Huh?

Of course that prompted a visit to our primary medical source–no, not the doctor, WebMD: Fifth disease is a very common childhood illness. Adults can get it too. It is sometimes called “slapped cheek disease” because of the rash that some people get on the face.

Okay. I understand that. But fifth? I associate that term with containers of liquor and a rather odd bank name in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. No, no wait! The handy WebMD comes to the rescue!

The name “fifth disease” originated in 1905, when a French physician assigned numbers to the common childhood diseases characterized by rashes. For example, measles was “first disease,” scarlet fever was “second disease,” rubella was “third disease,” and so on. Eventually, the numerical names for these diseases were replaced, except in the case of fifth disease, which remains today.

Still. Parvovirus. I remember that term associated with sick dogs back in the day. Apparently not the same buggy. Cool. So she stayed in school and everyone was happy.

Except for one small problem.

I’d set an appointment with the doctor already, because her behavior has been WAY out of line and uncharacteristically angry and defiant. Because she doesn’t verbalize well, this is often a clue that something’s not okay. She also spiked a little fever on Monday…and last week had that fabulous episode where she threw up in school and also in my car on the way home. Hurray. So I took her after school.

On the way there she was itching inside the front of her pants, and so when we got there, I took a look. Horrendous red rash all inside her pants, front and back, halfway up her tummy. It did NOT look like the pictures of Happy Numero Cinco disease whatsoever. Turns out there was a good reason for that: it’s not. It’s scarlet fever.

The doctor takes one look and pronounces this with ease. I’m thinking back to Little Women--isn’t that what Beth died of?? People died from that, right? Holy cat crap, Batman! Fortunately he cut me off in mid-panic and pointed out that, yes it’s a strep infection, and yes people did die of it BEFORE THERE WERE ANTIBIOTICS. Everything is copacetic now. Keep her home tomorrow because she’s contagious until she has the antibiotics for 24 hours, take the pink stuff for ten days, everything will be fine, get a sticker at the door.

So she stayed home again, and in fact the rash is clearing up nicely. And as much as that school nurse has made my life hell this year by calling me at inopportune times about stupid things, I refrained from pointing out she was WRONG. Clearly she can’t count. Two comes before five. So there. Maybe she went to school during that new math, you know. Anyway, one more day till summer vacation. I can be tolerant of other’s shortcomings for one day. Karma points for me. And more pink stuff for Little Miss. Lots and lots of pink stuff.


13 thoughts on “Disease, take a number!

  1. I didn’t even know people still GOT Scarlet Fever! The doctor should have prefaced that diagnosis with, “This is easy to cure,” or something like that. Would have scared me to death!

    And can’t believe you’re still in school. We’ve been out for 3 weeks. A little too early for my tastes (the pool isn’t even open, and we have to go back while before it closes), but there was nothing I was more looking forward to than the end of school!

  2. Poor thing! No wonder she’s been acting up! That was always our first clue as well. I had scarlet fever as a kid. My only hangover from that is now every time I get angry or have a crying jag, I get this rash all over my chest. Looks exactly like the SF did. Weird.

    Anyway, good luck with the pink stuff. Glad you got it sorted out!

  3. I didn’t realize people still got Scarlet Fever. I thought they cleared all that up decades ago. I would have been as freaked out as you.

    What’s next, Black Death? “Rub a little salve on it. Nobody dies from The Plague anymore! Don’t forget your sticker.”

  4. scary moment, for sure… triggered a memory that, in fact, many people died from tooth infections prior to dentistry and antibiotics. a round of applause for bread mold!

  5. Scarlet Fever? Wow…do you know what the rates of that are in this country? Little Miss should buy a Lotto ticket with the odds she just beat.

    Well, I hope she feels better quick. The pink medicine is good stuff. Sometimes I wish my doctor would still give me that rather than boring pills. 🙂

  6. My daughter had Scarlet Fever a few years ago. She always had a high tolerance for pain, and before she got her tonsils out, would get sore throats all the time. One time, when she didn’t complain, it turned into Scarlet Fever, which kind of freaks the parents out, right? I thought that was cured, or vaccinated for, or just isn’t in style anymore….another life lesson for us.

  7. OMG! I would have peed myself too. See what happens when they focus on books like Little Women in school and not modern day medicine!! Glad she is getting better though 🙂

  8. I didn’t realize scarlet fever was still “around.”

    Reminds me of when WB was 12 (now 18) and got shingles. No one would touch the kid at the Hospital – freaked me right out.

    Hope everyone is feeling better soon.

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  10. i stumbled across your blog as we both share the tag of fifth’s disease. so i thought i would pop on over and read your entry. just have to say you are hilarious in your writing. although i know at the time this was not at all funny. but i actually am in my 20’s and had fifth’s disease about a month or so ago and really have no idea how i contracted it. but you can guess that it was an amazing time. but again, sorry to hear about the Scarlett fever in your family! hopefully everything is alright now… seeing as it has been about 5 months. i can’t wait to read more of your entries… you really are a fantastic writer!

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