Who’s Afraid of a Little Coxsackie Virus?


Like the Papa in the Berenstain Bear series, I like to think of myself as not getting sick. And so when Rylee became feverish and lethargic and didn’t finish her dinner last week, I performed my usual fatherly function of not letting food go to waste. I finished off her plate.

When Chelsea called the next morning and informed us that Davis (age 2) and Seth (age 32) had begun showing symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease, my confidence remained unshaken. After all, the little coxsackie virus at the root of the hand, foot, and mouth disease lives happily in our intestines and most adults are immune anyway, having gotten the condition sometime during childhood.

But the last several days have now decompensated into a hazy malaise combined with annoying pimple-like blisters erupting on my hands, feet, and other less mentionable locations. So who’s afraid of a little coxsackie virus now?

Having for years scoffed my way through recommendations for handwashing and concerns about germ theory I am now appropriately contrite. Contrition is another detestable condition, by the way.  

[Insert profanity here.]

Here’s what WebMD has to say:

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is an illness that causes sores in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks and legs. The sores may be painful. The illness usually doesn’t last more than a week or so.

I’m on day 4 or 5 [Insert more profanity here.]

The other problem with this is that I now have the energy of a sloth and attention span of a toddler. In fact, the fact that I’ve written this little essay and stayed on point strikes me as rather a remarkable factoid in this particular lived moment.

There are benefits, however. Because my throat has broken out in hand-foot-and-mouth blisters I’m forced to keep making myself milkshakes. I also discovered that our blender is an excellent ice crusher. Did you know if you add a can of fruit juice to about a dozen ice cubes and blend or frappe, you create a drink that can cool the blisters in your throat. [Very nice.]  

Other updates and thoughts for the day:

  1. I am very sad for the victims of the Colorado shooting.
  2. The right to bear arms is in no way abrogated by regulating and tracking internet (and other) sales of ammunition.
  3. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  4. Being sick sucks, but the measure of my pain is so minor compared to the multidimensional and ubiquitous nature of human suffering that I cannot help but embrace my new friend, the coxsackie virus, who, as it turns out, is named after Coxsackie, NY.

This is not Coxsackie, NY

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