Our chicken pox story

Chicken pox is a highly contagious illness caused by the evil varicella zoster virus. It usually starts with skin rash appearing in two or three waves, mainly on the body and also the hands and becoming itchy raw pockmarks, small open sores which eventually heal without scarring for the most part. Chicken pox is spread easily through coughs or sneezes of ill individuals, or through direct contact with secretions from the rash on the skin of the patient.

Our chicken pox story started when our 1.5 years old daughter got infected with it from somebody (most likely another kid) at her nursery. Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease and you have a good chance of contracting the virus just by being in the same room with the carrier for a prolonged period of time. At first we were cursing the inconsiderate parent who brought their chicken pox infected kid at the nursery. Then after our kids got the illness as well, we found out there's only so much emergency leave and M.Cs you can take to look after your child. You'd have to start working again some time. So they probably had no choice in the end.
At first we thought we could handle and treat Mia at home. We gave Mia her medications and rub her with much calamine lotion day after day. After 4 days the pockmarks showed no sign of receding and what's even worrying, Mia started to loose her appetite and her temperature is alarmingly high. She became very passive and she didn't have much sleep at night. On the 5th day, we decided to take her to a hospital for further inspection. In the end the doctor advised for Mia to be warded because she was dehydrated and really weak after eating so little. Admitting her to the hospital is probably the best thing we did for her. Mia was under the good care of the doctor and the nurses and she made quite a quick recovery.

When Mia got into the hospital, it was the last week of the fasting month. Fortunately she was discharged 3 days before Raya. Although her chicken pock scars is clearly visible on her skin, at least we get to celebrate Raya in our hometown and not the hospital! And so we thought that was the end of our chicken pox story. Unfortunately that wasn't all of it.

Apparently both my wife and I haven't got infected with the virus before all our lives. And like many other Malaysians out there, we didn't get our chicken pox vaccine shot. We never thought we'd be infected with the virus so we touched and treated our Mia without a care in the world. Well, what do you expect? Leave her in a quarantine room at the hospital? On Hari Raya eve my wife started to show signs of a chicken pox infection. Tiny little red rashes and some part of her body, particularly the upper torso. On the second day of Raya it was all but confirmed that my wife had chicken pox too.

Although I tried to distance myself from her like avoiding any contact and sleeping separately, it wasn't really good enough in the end. To my horror, on the 3rd day of Raya I saw the same dreaded tiny red rashes all over my body. Unless you had been vaccinated or you caught the disease earlier on, there's no escaping them especially if your immediate family member catches one. Of course the extreme option is to live under separate roofs for a couple of weeks until the virus neutralizes. But you know that's virtually impossible (and heartless not to mention).

So I got the chicken pox virus too. And soon enough Adam contracted the virus also. Whether from Linda or me or even Mia, it didn't matter really. It's inevitable. Words cannot describe the suffering I went through. My skin was like super itchy yet I can't scratch or touch them lest it will make them worse. I had a fever and a terrible headache and it was so bad I couldn't even sleep at night once.
If it was bad for me, imagine what Adam had to go through. At least for me, I can control myself and suffer in silence. Adam on the other hand just couldn't stop scratching his body and as a result, the rash and pockmarks spread even quicker and covers a lot more areas of his skin. Like Mia, we decided to refer Adam to a hospital and requested that he be admitted there for his own sake.

The painful part of our chicken pox illness started from day two until a week later. The fourth and fifth day was particularly painful when the virus attack was at their best. The best thing to do once you suspect yourself being infected with chicken pox is to quickly see a doctor. The first 48 hours is crucial because if you take antiviral drugs and antibiotics it will help to ease the pain and contain the virus much quicker.

Believe it or not, calamine lotion won't do much good against the evil varicella virus. What it can do is help soothe and cool down your skin so that you won't feel like scratching much. I read somewhere on the Internet that the leaves from the semambu plant (calamus scipionum) can also help to reduce the itchiness though I don't see much difference with Mia when we covered her body with them. If you ask me, the best way to treat your children is to admit them into a hospital. They'll be under the good care of the doctors and nurses and they'll recover much faster there. For adults like me, apart from the antiviral medicines, nothing beats a liberal dose of paracetamols and painkillers.

We were told of a lot a lot of don't an do's while infected with chicken pox. Cannot eat chicken, greasy food, sea food, soy sauce, coconut juice, must avoid rain water, cannot support Man U or Chelsea and a plethora of others. I can't say much about most of the above but I did feel extra itchy after I accidentally had some sea food.

The first 5 days was the worst part and I only feel slightly better after the first week. There's nothing much you can do when infected with chicken pox apart from taking your medication regularly and keeping your hygiene. You should be healed after two weeks or so. After that you should drink some coconut juice so that your pockmarks heal more quickly. Also remember to avoid any physical contact with anyone within 2-3 weeks of being infected with the virus. Even after 2 weeks they are still infectious as my wife found out the hard way after getting the infected from Mia.

To make your scars disappear, rub your skin with a lot of vitamin E cream on them or apply a specific scar treating ointment such as Mederma. So far both of them worked wonders on my scar. My face used to look like the surface of the moon but now they looked more like I just had a mild acne breakout.

If you can afford to spend 300 ringgit on chicken pox vaccine, take it especially for you children. Else, you can only pray that you don't get them from anyone.