Friday, March 11, 2011

Recurring Childhood Illnesses

I'm an itchy b---- (babe) tonight. Apparently the chickenpox I had when I was eight haven't forgotten how to make me miserable. They came to visit again in the form of shingles. A tiny rash on my side is suddenly a giant pain!

The doc said he was glad I came to see him early in my suffering (this virus can last six weeks!) because there's an anti-viral Rx that could shorten my torment. I hope so—it cost me $108!

I was eight when I broke out in chickenpox the first time. Aunt Ree was tending me for the weekend. She dumped boxes of soda in my bath, and coated me with sticky pink lotion that dried into coral colored clay. I still remember trying to levitate on the couch so nothing would touch the cracked pink coating. "Don't scratch; you'll get a scar," I was told as I dug into my itchy pox.

We heal from most ordeals of childhood, but I bet all of us have a few scars of one kind or another. Maybe someone said, "You are so awkward," or "You'll never amount to anything," or "You're not an athlete," and left a sore spot that still flares up from time to time. Moms have a huge role in this kind of childhood trauma. It's contagious, and spreads by word of mouth.

"Think over everything you say, and don't say everything you think" is good preventative care. The Rx is most effective if it's started early in motherhood, although it works even in small doses over time. It's costly, though. You sacrifice the brief buzz of getting it all off your chest, by saying it like it is. You miss the split-second surge, knowing your cutting remark hit the bone. (A positive side-effect is less craving for those self-serving thrills.)

In a fabulous talk called The Tongue of Angels Jeffrey Holland said,
We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself . . . Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”

Even intentional mothers might notice themselves using words that would earn a time-out in their own home (more likely the kids will notice it for their mothers.) This is the time to try Aunt Ree's old-fashioned remedy. Go take a bubbly soda-bath, coat yourself in perfumed pink lotion, have a nice long think about the mom you want to be. Re-emerge from your mini-spa treatment and say something nice to each kid, tell a funny story, and find a reason to laugh. Post traumatic stress syndrome will be averted, and a healing atmosphere will fill the home.

Amy in the sick bed, 1985

Childhood illnesses could be a fond memory of sleeping in mom's bed, eating breakfast on a tray, and keeping a colorful throw-up bowl at the ready. It's a chance to play nurse and hospital, and teach your kids how to treat you next time you're sick. They'll love the foot-rub and be experts when you want one after a day at the zoo.

If you do all this to your best ability, and your chickenpox still returns as a pain in the assets, (when you're old and don't deserve it,) you have my permission to be an itchy b---- (babe.)
At that point you're teaching "Lessons in Reality."

Your turn:
It's your big chance—
gripe about how miserable you feel!

(I'll totally understand.)

Use some alliteration, stick in a little joke or two, and create an image.


Lydia said...

You have my full empathy. I got shingles in 2000 when my mother was dying and I was under much stress. At the time was under 50, which is uncommon to get the darn virus before 50. My doctor said it would be gone in six weeks and he hit it on the number. The meds helped. Isn't it weird the way shingles occurs only on ONE side of the body. Guess what? It returned two years later...on the other side. That time one of the patches was at the under-bra line, so that was just a lot of pain and inconvenience. It is a horrible thing and I am so glad (knock wood) that it hasn't returned again.

Baby yourself during these weeks. Try to get extra rest and do some thinking about what stressors are in your life that might have stimulated the outbreak. Take care.

You were a beautiful little girl. Good Heavens, and that was when you were sick!

Christie said...

YOU HAVE SHINGLES? Oh, I am so sorry. Remember when they thought I had it, but it was poison ivy? It was MISERABLE. Here's hoping it goes away soon.

The Grandmother Here said...

Any M.D.'s reading this? What are your recommendations about shingles vaccine?

kenju said...

It's too bad you didn't get the shingles vaccine. I had shingles back in the 80's and I would get ANY shot not to get them again! Good thing you went to the doc soon. I didn't and I had to tough it out. Do consider the vaccine when you are over it.

Sheri said...

So sorry about the shingles. My brother got them right before he was diagnosed with lymphoma. (Not to scare you or anything.)

BTW my word identification below is "unchi". Is that anyother word for unbearable, itchy, scabby shingles?

The pink clay lotion is Caladryl and my mother used to slather it on her hives. But your description of the sauce was better.

Walgreens is offering Shingles vaccinations. Wonder if I should get one??

polly said...

so sorry about your shingles. i'm glad it was caught early. nothing worse. i loved this post, (am enjoying the whole group on mothering). i think mom and dad were good at keeping things positive with us and i have always appreciated that. the only bad thing i remember is she told me i looked "sallow" in the winter, so until recently i always wanted to be tan. it is important what we say.

Tracy said...

Awww, I am so sorry you are feeling bad. I WILL find pity upon you. Growing up I had a friend who's mother quite frequently had shingles and oh gosh, she was miserable so I DO feel bad for you.

I hope you spend the weekend getting plenty of rest and relaxation.

Scrappy Grams said...

My husband had the shingles many years ago; I don't recall that he was yet 50. Maybe he was...don't know. He was miserable. Knock on wood, I've never dealt with that dratted visitor from childhood. Isn't it strange that I do remember the chicken pox? I do hope it clears up faster than 6 weeks for you.

Susan Adcox said...

So sorry! Evidently the shingles can vary from mildly uncomfortable to absolute misery-making. I hope you have the first type.

I think it's odd that doctors push the flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine but never say a word about the shingles vaccine. And none of them seem to have it in their offices. You usually have to go to a drugstore to get it.