|Typhoid Murr on the left, at Camp Mawavi|
The hosts of the holiday open house emailed everyone to advise us not to bring small children. Their own toddler had come down with Hand, Foot And Mouth disease, and they didn’t want to infect the whole herd.
I’ve said it before. There are just too many things to choose from now. Used to be we made do with a simple selection of childhood diseases, all of which we were expected to sample at least once. There was always a possibility of dying, but ours was a generation that could accommodate some culling. Some mothers even brought their children to infected kids’ houses for a Pox Party. Even the children they liked. The thought was it was better to get it all over with before the kids got old enough to really be missed.
But then they came up with all these vaccinations and now nobody gets measles anymore. Or mumps, or whooping cough, or chicken pox. I had the standard set, minus the whooping cough, which I didn’t get until just before I did a public reading of Trousering Your Weasel. I don’t remember the mumps. Apparently I got the mumps when I was just a month old. It’s hard to diagnose. A whole baby looks a little like a mump. Is that mumps, there, or just more baby?
|Survived to see my eighth birthday|
Measles I remember. There were all sorts of measles you could get: red, German, German brown–no wait, that’s a trout–Common, and Flammulated. I got one of those over Valentine’s Day in 1961 and got dreadful sick and had stark, Valley-Of-The-Shadow-Of-Death fever dreams and Mom set me up with a radio (“Where Have All The Flowers Gone”) and Dr. Martin came by with his black bag and called mom “Mother” and mentioned something about scarlet fever and someone came by from the school with a bag of Valentines from the whole class (perforated: Oh You Kid, Peas Be My Podner, Bee Mine; or glued up from pink and red construction paper and white paper doilies) and I recovered.
What I really nailed was chicken pox. People used to get terrible sick with chicken pox. I didn’t. I was going to camp and felt just fine except for the nice itchy rash, but since I had already demonstrated a real aptitude for poison ivy, I was sent right along. I was Chicken Pox’s Ambassador to Camp Mawavi. Chicken pox is another one of those antique diseases no one gets anymore, but it’s usually a doozy. Furthermore, it crouches inside you, quietly, for decades, waiting for a sign you have
not been sufficiently humbled by the indignities of old age, and then it pounces into shingles. Shingles is very painful and affects one side of your body, but given my history with the virus, I anticipate a pain-free case with a rakish but attractive rash.
It could happen. I’m pretty sure my mumps came back.
Shingles always struck me as a strange name for an illness. I mean, how the heck did the word shingle ever pop into someone's head when trying to name a bug in the first place, particularly given its nature? Itchy, extremely painful. Hey, that reminds me of a shingle!
You made me look it up. From the Latin for "girdle." Now that's painful.
I'm guessing it's not girdle the garment, but girdle as in "girdling a tree"–because of the way that the rash follows the nerve pathway around the body. If you get it on your torso, anyway, as I did.
Same derivation. Girdle the tree, girdle the girl.
When my mom had shingles I remember my grandma saying the rosary for her because, "If the shingles go clear around your body and meet, you'll die."
Yep. I remember mom would send all 4 of us kids over to the neighbors to play if one of their kids had measles, mumps or chicken pox. "Get it all over with at once" was her philosophy. I never did get chicken pox until I was in my 40's. Thought I was gonna DIE and my mom had Alzheimer's by then and forgot how to be a mom and take care of me. Whine, whine, snivel, snivel.
Aww. Somebody still needs to take care of you when you're sick. After a certain age, every time I get sick I think I'm going to die. I need someone around just to roll their eyes at me.
Chicken pox in adulthood is nothing to sneeze at. Can lead to orchitis in males. A male who survives that had best have done all his fathering by then.
That's mumps.Happened to a friend's father when he caught it from her.If he'd had it as a child he'd have been OK. So much for her wishing for a little brother!
I, too, had everything but whooping cough. In those days — the early 50's the doctor came to the house and we got a red sign to put on your door with whatever disease it was in big bold letters to warn people that the house was contaminated!
It wasn't a big red A, was it?
Had 'em all. Waited until I was almost 60 for the whooping cough, apparently the vaccine wears off. There is a vaccine now for shingles also. Never had rubella, called it German Measles back then. All these diseases sound like so much fun when you tell it. You left out TB and Polio…even you could not make those funny.
Don't challenge me. Yeah, I had a shot at (har) polio, because I definitely remember being herded into the doctor's office for the first vaccine, in a pink sugar cube. It was new that year.
I also had every known kind of measles it's possible to get – I remember coming to the dinner table wearing sunglasses, as apparently one of the measles could affect your eyesight. But later on I did get scarlet fever – we were Quarantined! Which of course brought all of the neighborhood kids and parents to the house to investigate what was going on (apparently the word Quarantine translates into "let's go be nosey" in surburbia!) and my dad had to move out in order to still go to work. In all seriousness, I was very, very sick. Were you as frightened of that "little black bag" as I was? Now, of course, we would welcome a doctor who makes house calls! Let's hope we never get the shingles; always thought it was an "old people disease" but now hear of twenty-somethings getting it. But if I do get it, I want your strain of the virus! I got the mumps when we moved (of course I did!) – had lumpy left side as we moved and lumpy right side as we got settled into the new digs. Now my double chins kind of look "mumpy"! Gee thanks for reminding me of my fabulous childhood!
You know, other people remember summer camp and playing in the sprinkler and ice cream and stuff like that.
So THAT's what's wrong with my neck 🙂
When I (and a generation later, my kids) had chickenpox, I'm sad to report it wasn't a few itchy spots and off to summer camp! It was misery – so many spots they ran into each other – and scars to this day. I think it might be a good idea to get that shingles vaccine; thanks for the reminder.
I got the shingles vaccine in my mid-fifties. I volunteered to be in the double-blind test of the vaccine for people in their fifties (previously it was recommended for age 60 and better). At the conclusion of the study they told me I'd gotten the real vaccine. Yay!
Measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever. . . I had everything but whooping cough. Did not have rubella until I was in my 30s; my kids brought it home from school. They had been immunized but apparently got a bad batch of vaccine.
Measles almost killed me and my siblings in 1955. I have vague memories of the doctor coming to the house and my mother crying almost nonstop for days. We kids were all so sick she was sure we were all going to die. My brother wound up in the hospital with pneumonia, had permanent lung damage, and died in his 20s — a delayed side effect of a childhood disease. So it did kill one of us, just not immediately.
I'll second what jenny o said about chicken pox. I suffered and still have visible scars. It's the main reason I did get the shingles vaccination. It's only about 50% effective, but after seeing how miserable shingles makes people I decided 50% was better than nothing.
I think the medical community is noticing all the milder childhood illnesses, like the ones caused by coxsackie virus, because they've got the ones with high mortality rates (polio, measles, pertussis) under reasonable control. A measles epidemic used to mean thousands of peoples were infected; today it's called an epidemic when it's a few dozen.
How horrible. I think I was pretty sick with measles too, because the dreams I had were like tunnel-to-death dreams. I have a chicken pox scar on my ankle from a huge blister. That's how they figured out I had chicken pox instead of poison ivy. I simply did not get sick. Huh!
My two girls were on the leading edge of vaccines for mumps and measles. I calculated back from the day she got the mumps to the day she sat in the doctor's office to get the mumps vaccine to figure out what happened to my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter was not old enough to be vaccinated.
Then, adding insult to injury, my younger daughter got mumps right on schedule. Except, a million times worse than her sister. A tiny child resembled a Macy parade balloon.
Ah, yes, said the doctor. By the time the virus got to her it knew the family genes and went for the brass ring.
Does anyone know if you can get just one mump?
It can be very one sided.
Like shingles! Can you get a shingle?
Yes, Murr. My brother got a mump on one side but very generously gave them to me on both. I looked like I had swallowed a football but got out of singing solo in the Christmas pageant. Joan D. said I did it on purpose so she would have to fill in for me.
I would have done almost anything to get out of singing a solo in church. When it finally occurred to me to just say no thanks, I did that.
And then there was diphtheria, almost killed my brother but just left him with a bum heart valve (he lived to be 80). We had a split family for quite a while as my dad and brothers moved to the milk house so we could keep selling milk. Mom and us yunguns stayed in the big house and yes, the doctor came with his black bag too.
WE BOTH HAD DR. MARTIN????
Construction paper Valentines. Do they still make construction paper and crayons? Even I (yes, me) have been girdled by Shingles. No fun, don't do it.
I don't have it on the schedule, but sometimes things pop up.
Well, regarding one mump or two . . . I was sick with mump(s) on ONE side for a week or 10 days, got well and went back to school for ONE DAY – and came down with the dang thing on the OTHER side. How inefficient!
My bouts of the other standard ailments (measles, German measles, and chicken pox) were miserable, but not critical.
However, I wish the parents who refuse to immunize their children would learn more about the possible consequences. A friend of my mother's family had whooping cough as a small child; complications led to a life-threatening illness that left him with the mental age of around 8. These things aren't trivial.
Yeah, this vaccine business isn't just about you as an individual. This is a public health issue. We damn near got rid of polio for good, but we're still chasing it. I think the fact that so many of the life-threatening things are no longer a big deal has made people complacent.
No Whooping Cough here. The others? Oh yes. And my mother LOVED pox parties. I think they were the only ones we ever had.
I gave chicken pox to my entire kindergarten class, including the teacher and all three brothers. I always was a generous soul.
I'm trying to imagine the party favors.
Spots, lumps, rashes and fevers. Sent home wrapped in a child shaped package.
Did you know that boys get these diseases harder than girls? I had three chicken pox. My twin had them all over – even on the soles of his feet.Measles: I had a little rash and slight temp. Sat on the sofa and watched TV. My twin brother was a mass of blotches and high fever. They put him in a cool bathtub with oatmeal in the water. It stopped up the pipes. They kept him in a darkened room for a week.
I got the mumps in my boobs when I was 27. Hot, swollen and freaking tender. Brother never did get the mumps.
The first round of polio vaccine was injected. It was the second year when they came out with the sugar cubes. Lucky you!
I no doubt got the injection, too, but I only remember the sugar cube. My folks would have made sure we were first in line, for sure. My sister got polio. She finally died of it at age 70.
No way, also, you got mumps in your boobs. Really?
Really. And adult guys can get mumps in the testes.
"The mumps came back, the very next day, the mumps came back…."
I had the same set: mumps (lying in a darkened room while on summer vacation with my family by the lake), chicken pox (thanksgiving day) and because they apparently felt left out, German Measles, discovered at the Rome Fiumicino Airport as we were trying to immigrate. My mom took one look at me as we got off the plane, and said, "Sit down there on the luggage. Do not move or speak." I spent the first two weeks of our new life in Rome in a darkened hotel room, while my brother and sisters went out for gelato, pizza, panini and more gelato. And people wonder why I'm bitter about my childhood. 🙂
God liked your brother and sisters best. I'm sorry, but it had to be said.
You left out one childhood disease—Fifth Disease. But I got it as an adult and generously shared it with my granddaughter. It didn't amount to much, but I had never heard of it till I was diagnosed with it.
Ha. Stay tuned for Saturday's post.
flammulated? What the heck is flammulated measles?
you made that up didn't you.
My youngest caught measles at five months, before he was old enough to be vaccinated. The older three had chicken pox, with the boy getting it at the same time he had mumps, poor kid.
I remember mum putting all three of us in the same room so we'd catch the chicken pox my sister had, she was covered in blisters and very miserable and got even more upset when all I could manage was one blister on my face and two in my hair. My dad got chicken pox at age 47 from my youngest half brother who was six at the time. Whooping cough has been around here in Australia recently, brought in by immigrants or tourists and spread to kids whose mothers don't believe in vaccinating.
Moi? Make things up?
I just remembered I'd thought it was the Chicken Pops.
I got none of these childhood plagues. My cousins did, and Mom sent me over to see what I could catch, measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever…
None of them took. Tonsillitis, I got every few weeks,but I avoided all other stuff. I had the shots as they became available, but I still live in fear that my natural immunity will fail me and I'll spend my 60's recovering from childhood ailments…
Oh god. I was the reigning queen of tonsillitis. Or strep throat, if there's a difference. Every winter until at least my mid-twenties. I'd go get penicillin from the doctor and one of the last times he offered pain meds too, but I didn't bring them home. I thought it was weird. It was SUPPOSED to hurt, and I was used to it. Dave let me know: you NEVER don't bring pain meds home.
Despite getting the vaccine a year ago, I have shingles. It is exceedingly painful, and much more so when I laugh. Damn you, Murr. And all your ha-ha commenters.
Well, I'll be damned.
I was about five when I had measles and had to stay in my bedroom with the curtains closed against the afternoon sun. I desperately missed fresh air and light, so I crept outside and danced all around the back yard. I got in trouble but it was so worth it.
I don't remember the closed-curtain thing. What's that about?
If the measles are bad enough bright light can hurt the eyes. It's how I knew my baby's red rash was measles, he'd turn away from the light and close his eyes.
I guess I had my eyes shut the whole time on account of being nearly dead.
My brothers and I all got the measles at the start of the Christmas vacation when I was in high school. We spent the entire time in the living room with the curtains closed and the lights off. And I wasn't even allowed to read. Not the happiest Christmas!
Besides that, I got chicken pox, strep throat, typhoid. Skipped the mumps.
And you've reminded me: I must get that shingles vaccine!
Again with the lights-out. I'm sure it was a thing, and maybe I was too fevered to remember it. Was the light supposed to be harmful?
Supposedly, since measles sometimes damaged the eyes, it was probably due to using them while we were sick. So, no lights, no sunshine, no reading.
All I remember is trying not to go through the tunnel to the light. Really.
Ain't no party like a pox party because the pox party don't stop.
Or so I hear.
Pearl (Mumps on one side (?) and Scarlet Fever. Whoop!
Every party needs a pooper, but that's a different disease.