I recently spent about a week in hell. I really wouldn’t recommend it. Then again, it’s not like it really could’ve been helped.
You have a kid, right? Kids are gross. Like really, really gross. They share all kinds of disgusting germs with each other and then bring them home and spread them all over us. As if they have nothing to be grateful for. Kind of like one big middle finger shoved in our face. Actually, more like one big middle finger covered in burning, itchy, red pustules of fire and madness. No, wait, that’s not just one finger, it’s your whole hand. Plus, your other hand. And your feet. Oh wait, here’s just one more twist of the knife, there it is all around your mouth and inside your throat, too.
Welcome to a special place in hell, folks. It’s called Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.
Oh, you thought only your kids can get Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? Um, yeah, if only life were that kind. But no, you live in hell, remember?! And now you–a fully capable responsible self-sufficient adult–are reduced to nothing more than a screaming heap of rash and unbearable pain.
Okay, before this all gets too out of hand (and foot and mouth, just to be clear), here are the facts of my plight:
A few weeks ago, I noticed my hands started to feel kind of like when you get a little paper cut and then you get salt in it. Know what I mean? Except not just one paper cut. This feeling was completely covering my hands. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, everything just felt pretty uncomfortable. Then I noticed one tiny bump. “Huh, that’s weird,” I thought. Then another. And then another. And before I knew it, my hands were completely covered in hard red bumps. Literally within hours my hands looked like I had stuck them in a hill of fire ants and just let those little jerks go to town.
Within two days my feet were completely covered, as was my throat and my chin and pretty much all around the outside of my lips. At this point, I’d tried all kinds of pain medication to offer even the slightest bit of reprieve. Here’s a short sampling: ibuprofen, topical anesthetic, dermoplast (aka, that stuff they give you at the hospital to spay all over your lady parts after you have a baby), hydrocortisone, benadryl, and finally a selection of other perfectly-legal-in-Colorado substances. There was no combination that even came close to touching the pain. The only thing that gave me just a hint of relief was sitting in the shower with my hands and feet submerged in buckets of ice until they went completely numb. Of course, after the blood returned and my body started to heal from my self-induced hypothermia, the pain came right along with it.
So, why am I telling you this? To warn you. You are not safe. You cannot hide.
But also to tell you that you will survive Hand, Foo, and Mouth Disease.
It will certainly feel like the end of your life while you are in the throes of it, but you will live to see another day. Sure, the aftermath may or may not include entire sheets of dead skin peeling off your hands and feet, or all of your finger- and toe-nails falling off from the trauma of what they’ve just been through. So yes, you will look like a complete monster for several weeks or months afterward. But you will indeed be alive to tell the tale of your ghastly experience.
So, here’s my advice for you: when your kid comes home from school covered in little red bumps from hell, just kiss him and get it over with. Then load up your Netflix queue, lock yourself away in quarantine, and just surrender to the reality that your life is going to suck for an indeterminate amount of time.