Thursday, December 10, 2015

Illness Aboard: Getting Acquainted with Cabin Fever

Hand, foot and mouth. It sounds more like a children's song than a medical diagnosis, but it is a highly contagious (and super menacing) "disease" that is - according to many parents - one of the worst child viruses to have in your home. I will add that it's also a terrible one to have on your boat. The last few days have been some of my most challenging since living aboard, culminating in an epic 'ugly cry' last night as I cradled my inconsolable baby and let the overwhelm take over.

No sooner had I finished writing about what a (relatively) 'smooth transition' this has been when I started noticing what I thought were bug bites popping up on Haven's legs. After two days of more bumps surfacing and fussiness of epic proportions (and, trust me, you don't want to meet fussy Haven!) it dawned on me: hand, foot and mouth disease. Isla had it around the same age back when we were in Grenada so I was familiar with what it could look like and the havoc it would wreak. Even still, I hit Google to confirm and sure enough, Haven's is a text book case, with the "bites" turning into oozing blisters and scars all over her body and mouth. My poor little Gerber baby looks like a leper.

The night I confirmed the illness was the worst. I resorted to co-sleeping, crammed up in the v-berth with the girls while Haven cried and writhed in pain every fifteen minutes. She'd scream and squirm in pain, despite the Motrin I had dosed her with before bed, and nuzzle up to me for comfort. Then Mira, upset at being awoken from deep slumber and also wanting mommy, would start screaming and try to nuzzle up to me, knocking Haven out of the way. The two of them would fight and cry over my upper body's limited real estate, and it would take a while to setting them back down. This happened over, and over, and over all. night. long. Needless to say, it was a sleepless night for all of us and a very long day followed with ill-behaved under-napped children and a boat that I'm shocked was not reported to authorities from the amount of blood-curdling screaming coming from within. This exhausted mama hit a low point and was at wit's end most hours of the day. Not my finest hours by a long shot.

Illness with little ones is no fun, period. It is significantly less fun on a boat. Scott, who has been burning the midnight oil and putting in twelve hour days at work, has not been around to help me much as we get our new endeavor up and running (details coming soon, I swear!) - so I've been battling this on my own. Pre-diagnosis, I was taking our girls on outings to the beach, pool and park on heavy rotation with my girlfriend Darcy and her boys but because hand, foot and mouth (HFM) is so contagious, I can no longer adhere to my sanity-saving routine of keeping them out and about. Instead, I have to keep our girls quarantined and away from other children, meaning we are contained in our (relatively small) boat for hours and hours on end. This is not easy and very challenging. We don't have television and the twins are too young to enjoy videos or pass any adequate time on an iPad, and being in such close quarters means they are in each other's space a lot which, in turn, means tantrums, screams and fits that are enough to drive a solo mama to the nut house. I'm also told to keep them apart so the other two don't get it which is, quite literally, impossible considering our living arrangement and my lack of 'back up'.  We hope for the best: that the other two are spared and when Haven's episode runs it's course, we will be done with this.

Luckily, our boat is well-equipped with medical supplies to tend to sick kids, though we've rarely had to use them. We carry plenty of pain reliever and fever reducers such as Motrin, Tylenol to relieve pain as well as a healthy dose of topical ointments like Neosporin, Coconut oil and Calamine lotion to help skin ailments like the blisters. I'm a long-time fan of using essential oils on our boat, and when I was back home my sister-in-law, Julie, introduced me to the beauty of diffusing them for household wellness, and I have been diffusing a combination of Thieves and Purification oils in my awesome portable USB mini aroma diffuser. I've also combined Lavender oil with a carrier lotion to apply to Haven's skin to help with her sores. All of these efforts seem to be helping and, knock on wood, so far the rest of us have been spared this awful affliction.

Staving off cabin fever associated with quarantining three small kids on a boat is almost as difficult as fighting the real illness. We've been rotating our two iPads, introducing toys in shifts and reading lots of books. We're getting creative making forts and, literally, climbing up the walls but I think we might be on the mend. Haven slept through the night last night (hallelujah!) and seems significantly happier today. In a few days time, we might just venture out. For now, we'll remain as quarantined as we can on the boat, with breaks for a meal or two here and there and trips to the ice cream shop for treats to soothe Haven's sore throat.  Big thanks to all of you who have given us advice, thoughts and well-wishes on our Facebook Page, it's nice to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and be reminded that "this too, shall pass."
Haven has sores like this all over her body.
Just a few on her hand. She's hard to photograph because she's always moving, but there were many more!
Legos offer great entertainment, until all three girls want the same Lego piece!
Playing with our Imaginets
The stairs are a hot play zone!
Playing nicely together...some of the time ;)

4 comments:

M said...

Oh man - here's hoping the other two don't get it - or you! I caught it myself last summer when my little one was about a year old and it. is. miserable. I was unable to type, text, walk, or take care of my kiddo due to the blisters on hands and feet. Hang in there mama - keep cleaning everything and pray for mojo. :)

EandL Schwiebert said...

All I can say is "Wow" you have the patience of Job. If we were there, we would offer to help in any way we could. We are "old people" (but don't look it :-)) and have "been there, done that" so we have a sort of idea what you are facing. Keep the faith -- this too shall pass!

Anonymous said...

Something my pediatrician recommended when my girls had that nasty virus was equal parts of liquid Benadryl and Malox to swab their mouths with. It seemed like almost instant relief. You just swab it on with a Q-tip. Good luck, it will pass, but it's not any fun, chin up sweetie!

Gina Phillips Hutchinson KS

John Forrester said...

Hand,foot and mouth are one of the most important organ of our body.I had seen best foot massager reviews where I saw some recovered from foot disease.But what is the solution for other parts?I am interested to know.

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