Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Should Have Bought Shares in CVS

DramaBoy has scarlet fever.

It all started with, believe it or not, a fever that kept fluctuating, along with a sore throat, during the night on Monday. No coughing or sneezing though, which caught me off guard. DramaBoy is the prince of respiratory illness, and I couldn't quite believe that the customary symptoms weren't appearing. Neither could he.

I am coughing a lot! he reported over the phone, with nary a rasp.

Not that I've heard, commented my mother.

She was surprised as well. There was no need to wield the nebulizer and bring forth the almighty Albuterol. (We have not one but two nebulizers at home. Plus a friendly medical supply company that keeps calling and sending mail to make sure we don't need another shipment of several hundred vials of medication since the one we got a couple months before. Nice, but a bit zealous.)

Then yesterday he started breaking out in a weird red not-quite-rash (no measles and no pox, small- or poultry-), with strange mini-hives scattered about. A fever and hives? We were kerflummoxed, which takes some doing since my father is a medical technologist and I have about five gazillion doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the family. Makes for interesting family dinner conversations.

I digress.

So off we went to the doctor this morning. Ooh, that throat is very red! said our lovely doctor with the monkey stethoscope. Out came the swabs, and presto! the strep test was positive. Scarlet fever. With an interesting twist, since the "rash" does not usually produce the itchies. I think, she said thoughtfully, after a perusal of his recent diet turned up nothing odd, that it is possible in a child with such sensitivities as DramaBoy that he may be reacting to the bacteria itself. We shall see once the antibiotic starts taking effect.

So not only does my little boy have strep/scarlet fever, he's ALLERGIC to it.

Lovely.

I reported this to ComputerDaddy over the phone. He was unsurprised, having suspected scarlet fever already. It's been going around. He was more taken aback by the cure. Amoxicillin? he asked. You're sure that's all it takes?

I think we still retain a social memory of a once-upon-a-time when scarlet fever was, for so many, a death sentence, as it still is in some far-flung regions of the world. We conjure up images of mothers in long, sweeping skirts crouched over bedsides, sponging fevered brows; doctors in rumpled black suits and rolled-up sleeves muttering about "coming to the crisis" and "we'll know in the next few hours." In this day and age of a myriad of ever-new antibiotics with catchy, medicinal names and ever-increasing strength, it's easy to forget that for this child-killer the great nemesis remains the modern relatives of a miraculous mold. It's easy to forget that it was only 81 years ago that the spores from this mold floated, by pure "chance," into a science experiment and were actually noticed by Sir Alexander Fleming--and that it took more than a decade for his discovery to be turned to a practical medicinal use.

It's odd how the mention of these diseases that were once so rampant, so deadly, still trigger a subtle fear in us, even though we don't panic as those families must have a less than a century ago. There is a sense that our science is not infallible, that medicine does not know everything, and that sometimes it takes something as simple and humble as a few mold spores going where they shouldn't for lives to be saved.

And DramaBoy? He has itchies. The fever has abated a good bit, so the hives are his primary complaint, the brave little man. Benedryl, Aveeno cream, and oatmeal baths are our heroes, with common little amoxicillin silently working away in the background.

2 bits of love:

The Kampers said...

WOW! Didn't know scarlet fever and strep were connected! And when you said he had scarlet fever I was worried, because all those flowing skirted mothers and rumbled coated doctors come to my mind! Glad it will just take a common antibiotic!

mom said...

Way to go: not everyone can write about DramaBoy's fever and itchies and make it so funny! Laughter is the best medicine, as someone reputable said. Thank God for giving us useful molds and intelligent people to figure out how to use them!

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