This might be a little outside the realm of normal conversation but I assure you that what you see here will freak you out.
Hand Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a Coxsackievirus that was discovered in 1948/1949 and named after Coxsackie, New York where the first fecal specimens of the virus were discovered. It is common in children and rarely poses a threat to them or crosses the blood/brain barrier. It can be transmitted via saliva, feces, and the blister fluids. On Sunday I took my daughter to a birthday party at a children’s museum where, unbeknownst to me, there happened to be a teeming cauldron of Coxsackievirus A16. My daughter started showing symptoms on Wednesday and by Thursday had significant blistering all over her body. I was unaffected until Friday at roughly 10:30 AM.
10:30 I start to feel uncomfortable, I know something is coming on. I finish work a little early and at 3:30 come home to take a nap, which is out of character for me. By 5pm I’m running a 102 fever and feel as though I have the flu. I feel like eating Chinese food which is the last meal I will eat for almost a week.
Saturday 00:30 Hours
I have slept probably a total of 1 hour since 9 pm. My fever maxes out near 103 throughout the night. The fever comes on and breaks 4 different times, by 0400 I’m praying for daylight to come. I finally fall asleep around 0530 and wake up at 0700.
I go to work at 1000 where I’m fatigued, and have aches and pains. Around this time I start to notice a very scratchy throat and wish that I had eaten breakfast. I come back home at noon where I’m able to take two naps during the afternoon. Throughout the day my fever never exceeds 100 and for the most part is a non issue. By dinner my throat is so sore I can do nothing other than eat soup and drink warm tea. My daughter has fully recovered by this point.
This is where the real fun begins. I sleep pretty well without a fever, but the pain in my throat is relentless. Physically I feel fine and do some things around the house thinking that aside from my sore throat I was in the clear. At 1600 I look at my hands and notice the first faint signs of HFMD.
Game on. I am up throughout the night as the blisters become worse and start to itch. I spend 3 hours in the middle of the night researching HFMD and possible treatments. Some say adults can’t get HFMD, everyone else says there are no treatments, I then find this. It wasn’t the most robust study but at this point I don’t care. Within hours I find a doctor to reluctantly write me a script for Acyclovir. By noon my blisters have progressed to what I considered at the time to be DEFCON 1. I have scabbing around my nostrils that peels, bleeds, scabs and repeats every couple of hours. I apply Crisco to keep the wound moist. I acquire the Acyclovir by mid-afternoon and immediately start the recommended dosage.
Dear God have mercy on my soul. My nose condition is unbearable, I’m constantly applying Crisco to keep it moist (Vaseline causes significantly more scabbing). My throat is still so sore I am not eating solid foods or drinking anything other than warm tea. My wife makes me some soft scrambled eggs that I am able to eat with significant discomfort. My blistering becomes more intense throughout the day and my feet are the more painful than any other day so far, making it laborious to walk around.
By this point Acyclovir has been in my system for 24 hours, the earliest timeframe mentioned in studies for positive effects to be seen. I take my 3rd oatmeal bath of the day and notice some changes in the blistering. By 1900 hours my hands have changed from the above images (taken roughly 1300 hours) to these. Some of the white blistering seems to have dissipated and blistering in general appears to be starting to undergo resolution. I’ll save everyone the photographs of my ugly unshaven face but yes, the nasal blisters are still very much a part of my discomfort.
I awoke and felt stronger than I had in days though my throat was still sore. My rash marks are becoming slightly more faint by this point (at least I think so) and I’m hoping this will be my last day with breakfast tea for a while. Fingers crossed.
By mid afternoon there is no question that I am on the path to recovery. My throat is starting to become more bearable, I even consumed tap water with minimal discomfort which made hydrating myself much easier than it had been for days. I arrive home from work and know that I can swallow food again. My hands are looking even less disgusting but only by a small degree…I’m told.
I ate mac ‘n cheese for dinner, it was wonderful. I even added the 2T butter for the “richer flavor” as described on the box. Afterwards I felt so good I went to Dairy Queen where even the extreme cold of ice cream couldn’t bother my throat and I washed it down with my evening Acyclovir. At this point I’m unstoppable.
The virus is going to lose this battle. The blisters are resorbing, my throat is improving daily, though its progress is much slower than I would hope. I don’t feel a need to continue the updates but will take photos if and when I lose my finger/toenails. I’ve heard that can happen up to a month after the infection subsides and so I wait, full of apprehension, as one would imagine.
Note: By April 1 I still had residual blotching on my hands and my feet were still peeling from the autoimmune reaction I was having to the antibodies. I have started to lose one of my fingernails, the nail near the cuticle is beginning to peel and while painless, it looks pretty nasty.