There's tons of internet info on HFMD in kids but not as much in adults because they don't always get it. (Lucky me!) So I've decided to keep a daily log of every strange gross detail in case others go searching like I did.
Before I knew I was sick
I was taking care of Jack 24/7 while he was sick with HFM because Hubs was traveling for work. Sleeping was terrible for many days because he was waking up SO OFTEN and I was spending a lot of time "sleeping" in a chair because he couldn't sleep unless I was holding him. Therefore, I was exhausted, getting very little sleep, and I started feeling like I was getting a cold. Not surprising. I started taking DayQuil around the clock and just continued feeling under the weather the whole time I was nursing little man back to health. After about a week he got better, his blisters scabbed over and he was mostly back to normal. Hooray! And then the fun started...
Day 1 (Thursday)
I woke up with an extremely sore throat and was really run down all day. Low energy, no appetite, body aches, headache, chills. I assumed the HFM had finally gotten the best of me but as the day wore on and my body ached more and more (even becoming sensitive to the touch) I started to wonder if maybe I actually had the flu. Went to bed at 6pm and for the better part of the next two hours, laid in bed super uncomfortable and, though I'm not proud of it, was actually moaning and writhing in pain from the soreness at certain times. Extra Strength Tylenol did nothing.
Day 2 (Friday)
Awoke feeling like there were knives stabbing my throat. This continued throughout the day every time I tried to swallow or talk. Decided it was better to try not to do either. Body still sore and sensitive to touch but nothing like last night. Then discovered that there were white pus patches all over my throat and tonsils which is indicative of Strep. Great. Decided to head to the doctor since Strep is bacterial and would need antibiotics. They ran a Strep test - negative. They drew blood to test for Mono - negative. I asked again if it could be HFM and they said it was "unlikely as you don't see the white patches in the throat with this disease and you don't have any of the telltale blisters on your body". They sent me home with a shrug and a prescription for more rest and some viscous lidocaine which I was supposed to gargle with every 3 hours to numb the pain and be able to eat. I tried it. It was like trying to gargle with metal-flavored pudding. Impossible, disgusting, and I have no idea how I kept myself from puking. Later in the day I decided instead to squeeze some onto a Q-Tip and dab it on the worst parts of my throat. It dulled the pain for approximately 5 minutes. I gave up. Who needs to eat, right? Popsicles became my new best friend.
Another strange thing this day: my nose. I had like a little leak in the very tips of each nostril where I had never felt snot before, and it would solidify into a translucent but yellow colored crustiness. (Yes I picked it to examine it.) And I kept blowing and cleaning the crusties out throughout the day (I can't call them boogers because they really weren't...hard to explain) but stopped when I realized I was fighting a losing battle and they just kept coming back. Very strange.
Lots more rest and to bed early again. Alternating Advil and Tylenol still was not doing much.
Day 3 (Saturday)
Again with the stabby knives in my throat. Also, woke completely drenched in sweat. I mean drenched - like I went swimming in the night and then just climbed back into bed. Aaaand...hello blisters on my hands! Ah ha - so it is HFM! So glad I spent most of yesterday in the ER and paid $125 for them to tell me it wasn't HFM. :-/ I almost felt a sense of relief. Not that I wanted to catch it but I was glad to finally know what it was so I could know what to expect. But then I did research on how HFM presents in adults and realized I probably would have preferred something unidentifiable.
Throat sores were so sensitive popsicles were now a lovely distant memory (too much acidity) and ice water and ice cubes were the only possible replacement. Overall body soreness was much better but now I had itchy, pins-and-prickly-needles blisters coming out over all my fingers, hands, feet, scalp, and a couple on my face. The full quarantine began and I spent most of the day in bed alternately sleeping, watching Netflix, and trying not to swallow.
Day 4 (Sunday)
Throat ever-so-slightly less stabby upon waking. Still hard to swallow but no longer felt like I was eating shards of glass.
Could not use my hands at all due to painful blisters. This was extra fun because it was my son's 2nd birthday today and I was completely useless to help or play with him and had to just be the dirty diseased ragamuffin in the corner salivating over cake I can't eat, and then slinking back upstairs to my bed to hide once presents were opened. Starting to wonder if the Netflix show I'm binge-watching is actually my reality. Hmmm.
Towards end of day I was thinking that maybe I made it through the worst day (! Huzzah!) but then I discovered the rash had spread to both legs (thighs and knees mostly), elbows, ears, one side of my abdomen, back, butt...well, basically everywhere. FML. Bring on the Benedryl.
Day 5 (Monday with pics!)
Feeling a little better overall. Sore throat still there but not awful every single moment of the day. Discovered I have already lost 8 lbs from my steady diet of ice cubes, ice cream, scrambled eggs and ramen. Quite itchy and Benedryl is doing nothing. Having a hard time walking because even though the blisters on my feet don't look like much they are super uncomfortable when I stand or even move a toe. The ones between the toes are the worst. But hands are getting better (see pics) and I can now sort-of use them again. Thank God.
Took a shower today for the first time since oooh, Friday? Gross. It was tough though. I needed to use cool water because even slightly warm water made the blisters hurt more. And my head was one giant dreadlock so trying to comb that out with hands that barely work was fun. In the end I think I dried my skin out more. Super itchy now and day dreaming about a tub full of calamine lotion.
I feel like I HAVE to be getting better soon, no? But I'm not seeing any evidence of blisters actually popping or oozing so now I'm getting suspicious. Thought they had to pop then crust over before you can start getting better. So I'm still in waiting mode, hoping every night that the next day will be better.
It's amazing that the blisters don't look like much in the pics but they hurt so much the last few days!
Day 6 (Tuesday)
I can sort of walk again! I can still feel the blisters on my feet and between toes and it's super annoying and itchy but at least they don't hurt as much. And the throat is a bit better. I even ate today! And my fingers are now becoming calloused, which is a good thing because I'm able to use them again. All the itchy rashy parts on my legs, back, side, butt are just staying an itchy rash, not turning into blisters like on my hands and feet. But they are super itchy so we'll see what happens there. Another day of rest and my new Netflix world.
Day 7 (Wednesday)
I am officially on the mend. I even went out today to Target and the grocery store. Like a real person! My throat is like 80% back to normal so I am eating ALL the things. The callouses on my fingers make everything I touch feel like it has a layer of fuzz on it. I've still got some itchies in some places but for the most part, the places that were just rashy (like my thighs) are starting to clear up and the random single blisters around my body are hardening. Except my toes - those are still bothering me and wearing shoes today was not fabulous. I still have those weird calcifications (I refuse to call them boogers) in the tips of my nose and am resisting the urge to dig 'em out. They're just so weird!! But other than that, I have my energy back and I expect to be back to normal soon! Hurrah!
In re-reading everything I wrote just now I noticed that I didn't mention anything about coughing. I had a dry, un-productive cough off and on the whole time I was sick. Sometimes it was just a tickle that I couldn't seem to get rid of and at other times it was kind of a deep chest cough. Strange. That seems to be going away now too.
If anything else crazy happens I'll update this post again. But for now, I am just keeping my calloused fingers crossed that I don't lose any finger- or toenails over the next month+!
UPDATE (May 22): So more than a month later I'm now starting to lose my first fingernail. Yee-fucking-haw. And the scabs(?)/marks(?) on Jack from his blisters still have not fully disappeared. This is like the sickness that never ends. I also failed to mention that my fingers peeled like crazy in the weeks after and then my feet too - in every place there was a blister. So, like, 100 places. My feet are still peeling a little. Two layers of skin every time. SO weird. I just hope to God I never get this again. Ugh.