"Suffering the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune"

Remember when my teenagers came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease back in August? Although Em came through it remarkably well, we just realized she has some lingering issues. Besides the little scars all over her legs that is…

We were sitting around the table a couple nights ago, eating supper when her right index finger caught my eye. The nail was wrong – ridged and wonky and really misshapen. Of course I freaked out, just a teeny, tiny bit, and pointed out with concern that finger nails are indicators of all sorts of medical issues and deficiencies. I figured it was that or damage from nail polish, etc, which seemed unlikely.

As I mentally started rummaging through the ‘archives’ that make up my brain, pulling up images I have seen of various finger nail conditions, Em casually mentioned her nail had peeled completely off and had grown back like that. And that she had a nail on her other hand that had done the same. At which point my mental archive research came to a screeching halt, because what awful condition would make your finger nails peel completely off? I was a little horrified and more than a little annoyed that this was the first I knew of it.

No doubt I would have freaked completely out, had my son – the original possessor and generous sharer of HFMD – not been gracing us with his presence. He piped up and said he thought it was from HFMD because he had lost his finger nails too and his were just growing back in as well. And he rather proudly held out his hands to show his misshapen finger nails.

At which point I somewhat sheepishly remembered that losing nails a few weeks after the virus is absolutely a symptom of HFMD and nothing nefarious was going on.

So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you are unlucky enough to get MFMD, do not be surprised if your finger nails fall off. The better moral would be ‘don’t get it in the first place’, but if you do and your finger nails eventually fall off, consider telling your mother so she doesn’t freak out like I did. (Yet another moral might be ‘Don’t freak out so quickly’ but, whatever.)

On a serious note, we feel pretty lucky that Em (Luke, too, for that matter) hasn’t had any serious complications from HFMD. Something like HFMD, which generally affects little kids who generally bounce back quickly, can be pretty rough on an adult when they do get it, especially an young adult who is compromised. Viruses are notoriously bad for EDSers and too many have been knocked down hard by a seemingly simple virus, never to be the same.

So, while I joke about not freaking out (because, let’s face it, I do have a tendency to do just that, even when I don’t need to.) there actually are things going around that deserve to be taken seriously. No panic, no freaking out – just a reasonable evaluation of the risks and prevention or treatment strategies. People sometimes look at those of us with medically complex kids, who really do present challenges and need protecting, as overreacting and, admittedly, sometimes we do.  But, knowing your kid’s issues and being aware of potential issues is not overreacting, it is actually doing precisely what you are supposed to do. Viruses are not something to be taken lightly in the EDS world, so steer clear of HFMD (and all other nasties) if you can and be vigilant if you can’t.

(I stand by the suggestion to inform your mother if your fingernails fall off, though. Seems like a no brainer to me…)

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