Sunday, 30 December 2018


December is always physically and mentally challenging for me. The end of semester means I'm busy with work (if you don't know already I'm a univeristy lecturer) and deadlines with my study as a PhD student, and this year I had to also deal with my first grader son having his first formal school exams. To top that December weather is not good for the health. Hence I always get sick in December. From harmless common colds to a type of measles to a trip to internist for gastrointestinal infection that made me unable to enjoy food due to my stomach hurting. Of course being the introverted psychosomatic that I qm, all these were induced by stress. I recall visiting a psych also in December to keep my mental health in check. (Okay this is the first time I admit seeing a shrink)

This year though tops the list with an unexpected case of chickenpox.

It first started after I came home from a conference in Samarinda. The next day I was beat, I stayed at home and thought my malaise was due to lack of rest since I've been out and about preparing for the trip and preparing my Dissertation Seminar. That means frequent trips to Bogor and Ciputat and also sleepless nights of dissertation and paper writing. I taught classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. By Wednesday I was feeling worse. I was tired but had to teach 3 periods from 10am to 6pm. During the second perios there was a moment where I was standing in front of the class speaking and I lost my breath. I had been having these shortness of breath that day, walking up and down 1 flight of stairs left me breathless, as did speaking in class. It was like you just did a sprint and your heart is racing and you can't breathe. I felt I was going to pass out and faint. Luckily I managed to go through the class without anyone  noticing that I almost fainted. I ended my last class early so I could go straight home and rest. I came home with a fever and went straight to bed.

That day I also noticed in the bathroom while taking wudhu I had itchy spots on my neck that I thought was just pimples because I tend to have them there since I was always sweating. I didn't realise until the next day I had spots on my stomach and they looked like they were blistering (with a liquid inside, hence the Indonesian name cacar air). It was then that I realised I might be having chickenpox.

Since I realised at night, I couldn't go to the doctor right away. But when Akang came home I showed him my blistered spots and he told me they were chickenpox. I visited the doctor the next morning, more spots showed up and she confirmed they were the pox.

I was given the antivirus acyclovir tablets and lotion but I knew later it was too late to suppress the infection from spreading. I was also given antihistamine for the itch and that helped. i went to the doctor about day 4 after the first spot appeared and that day new ones kept appearing at a very fast rate. By day 5 I probably had about 100 spots. I had them like literally everywhere from head to toe. The worst ones were in my scalp (they were itchy and caused major headaches, I had to take high doses of painkillers to ease the pain, and shampoo everyday since they popped and crusted which were really gross), in my lady parts (since it hurt a lot and I was afraid because that's a sensitive area), and the soles of my feet because it became painful to walk so I had tonwear thick padded socks. Other that those parts, I had them on my ears, face, lips, tongue, inside of my mouth and throat, neck, chest, stomach, back, arms and legs. There weren't so many in my arms and legs, the spots were mainly around my back and my front upper body and my head (scalp, ears, face etc).

spots on my face

It was excruciating to stand up and walk. My house is 2 storeys, my room is upstairs. I couldn't even walk up and down the stairs to get to the kitchen without feeling like I was fainting. If I didn't have to do my Seminar I would've admitted myself to the hospital because I felt really bad.

The thing is, it would be more hassle if I postpone my Seminar. My doctor wouldn't give recommendation for me to do the seminar since I could infect people, but I called the admin at my uni and she said it was okay as long as I wear gloves and face mask.

The seminar was on Monday, I was diagnosed Friday. I spent the weekend resting to store my energy for the seminar. Thankfully I was fit enough to go to Bogor and Akang really helped by taking a day off work to accompany me. And the spots on my face were healing miraculously, the spots in the photo almost cleared. I jad been depressed that I had to deal with the aftermath of the spots but by the time I was doing thr seminar you barely noticed I had chickenpox spots. The seminar went well, it was truly Allah's helping hands that made it happen. Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin.

So it lasted for 1 week. 1 week of physical pain but good rest, but I missed my boys since I had to sleep alone and I couldn't touch them. For someone who gains strength from hugs it was just as painful not being able to hug them for that week. I also missed the chores of taking care of them like bathing them, cooking for them or having meals with them... Akang did a great job keeping us together, he took very good care of me and I couldn't be more grateful. Thankfully our maid already had chickenpox so she really helped.

2 weeks later I noticed red spots on Raka. It was just a few and I thought they were insect bites. Raka had low grade fever but he was coughing and had a stuffed nose so I thought it was common cold. The next morning his temperature was back to normal after fever for 2 days, but there were more spots so I suspected he contracted chickenpox too. That morning I took him to the doctor who diagnosed him with the same: varicella. He was given the same medicine plus cough syrup. I am almost envious that he didn't feel weak or tired and had only about 10 spots which were due to the facts that:

  • He is a child. Chickenpox symptoms in kids is milder than adults. So it is better to get it while little really. Take it from me who had frequent faint spells and looks like a witch that even my younger son was afraid and cried when I touched him.
  • He had been vaccinated. Although I will never get over the guilt of not giving him a booster shot for varicella when the doctor already scheduled since almost 2 years ago.
  • He was diagnosed and treated very early before the red spots became bumps or blisters so the antivirus worked in stopping the spread of the infection

chickenpox spots on Raka

He was playing as usual and his little brother couldn't be kept away from him (although we convinced them to sleep in different rooms). It was a good thing it was school holidays so at least he didn't miss school. I gave Imboost for Rayi so that he didn't get the pox too and Alhamdulillah as he almost always is, Rayi is healthy up to today. Those healthy eating regimen while pregnant with Rayi really paid off in maintaining his immunity and his love of healthy food that helps him to fight off infections.

December is almost ending. Although the weather may still be extreme but at least the storm in the house has passed. Raka's recovered, I still tire easily but overall in a better shape, Akang and Rayi as always the rocks (meaning they almost always healthy). I taught my last class a few days ago so I can focus on my dissertation, only 2 big steps to go. May 2019 be great for all of us.


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