I am thirty, and I have the chickenpox. Not shingles. Not a few red spots. Full blown-itching-my-brain-out-chickenpox. Google “adult chickenpox” and you won’t find much about how to survive this. Maybe because you’re supposed to have gotten this over and done with in childhood, or maybe because it’s not survivable. I’ll let you know which it is in about two weeks.
I was diagnosed yesterday, though I think my first “spot” showed up three days ago concealed by me thinking it was a bug bite. Like I thought the cluster of five that showed up on my arm were. Like I thought the next cluster on my foot were. It wasn’t until I’d exhausted Dr. Google before dawn because I couldn’t sleep due to the itching that I starting thinking it wasn’t a normal bug. Silly me, I even thought it was quite possibly bed bugs and even woke up my sleeping husband to tell him so, until I went to the bathroom and saw The Rash on my legs. Like, all over my thighs legs. I watched the rash morph over the next few hours, telling myself that I would NOT be that person who went to the ER in the middle of a night for a non-life-threatening rash. Proudly, I made it until the closest doctor’s office could fit me in yesterday.
Here’s what happens when you’re a chickenpox infected adult: other adults get scared. This is confusing to them. New territory. You are not only probably wrong about what you have, but you’re also strange, and probably have something that’s going to kill them, or at a minimum, should be on display (while quarantined) because now something that’s only in textbooks has become a real life medical model. I witnessed this as I politely (and quietly) told the office receptionist that I think I may have the chickenpox, and could they put me in a separate waiting room or at least give me a mask so I don’t infect anyone else if I’m contagious? I got The Look. The wide eyed, I have no idea what to say, I’m not sure I should hand you a pen or take your registration paperwork back before I spray it with bleach solution, look. Thankfully, the physician assistant knew what to do and told the panicking receptionist to “put her in room 5” (along with my paperwork).
When the female physician assistant was able to get in to see me, she offered a gown. When you’re a chickenpox adult victim, you don’t wear a gown. You just strip your clothes off as fast as you can so that the diagnosis can happen because you think that they must have a magic can of itch-stopping spray handy for cases like this, and you want that magic spray can. A whopping 30-seconds was needed for diagnosis, thanks to the various spots that now covered all of my limbs and back. She writes me a script for an antiviral that might offer relief though I’m bordering on the 24-hour start threshold (or possibly a day over it), I throw my shirt and pants back on, and then the door opens again because another young staff member has never seen chickenpox in real life. No problem, glad to be of assistance.
Society apologizes profusely for your plight, from the pharmacist to the cashier. Everyone except for your kids, who still demand you function at just the same level as before you were a walking red, itching mass. You didn’t think to ask all of those apologetic people if they’d put their empathy to work by watching your kids for you, so you become a zombie chickenpox adult as you use Benadryl as your coping method. When I say “coping method”, I’m really just referring to the trade you’re making between itchiness and alertness. Since you can’t nap or lay in bed all day, but you REALLY need that diphenhydramine, you are now a bumbling, fumbling, slow, foot dragging, red, itching mass…who, if she was with it enough, would be praying that her children don’t see this as an opportunity to take advantage of.
Since Dr. Google isn’t helpful enough to give you a list of what you need to know to survive the chickenpox as a mother, here is a summary of what I’ve learned: