Dylan and The Unescapable HFMD

Thursday, February 06, 2014

We took a short holiday to Melbourne over the CNY holiday and as luck would have it, we found out that Dylan is down with hand-foot-mouth-disease (HFMD) today, as soon as we sent him to his infant care.

You know, as a parent, while I am quite aware of the HFMD symptoms - blisters on the palms and soles, fever and ulcers in the mouth, I must say that these symptoms are not quite as pronounced in one kid as compared to another.

I had NEVER once thought Dy was actually showing symptoms of HFMD at all!

Dylan woke up in Melbourne on our third last day crying and feeling really cranky. We didn't know what was wrong with him; no fever, no nothing. He just couldn't finish his milk, when usually he drinks as much as 400ml at one go.

Then he started drooling like crazy. He couldn't close his mouth tight and he would drool everywhere.. and we thought it was because he was teething. Which probably explained the poor appetite and crankiness.

Then strange rashes started appearing on his knee caps and groin area, which we thought he may be allergic to blueberries because he was spamming on them so much until his poo was PURPLE when we were in Port Fairy wtf. #truestory

It was until today when I brought him to his infant care before my work that I saw a prominent notice stuck outside the door:

THEN I looked at Dylan's legs again and I realized he started to have rashes-like dots all over his calves and two reddish dots on his right toes. Still nothing on his soles.

Made him open his mouth and I saw two ulcers on his tongue [poor boy :(] and then I had a dawn of realization.


Brought him to the doctor's to get it verified and he was given some ulcer cream. The doctor said that HFMD is worrying, but is nothing serious, with only one strand of the virus being deadly and dangerous. At the rate HFMD is circulating around Singapore, he also joked that it is inevitable that our kids will eventually contract the disease.

I've got a friend whose kid got HFMD twice and himself, once. You're not likely to get back the same strand, and there are 6 strands of HFMD viruses around so I am guessing that the maximum times you can get HFMD is 6... urm. I do hope this is the one and only time Dy gets it for the rest of his life.

The biggest trouble of HFMD is the ulcers that come along with it: It practically grew everywhere in a child's mouth, even their throats as well, which can make swallowing difficult and hence there will be reduced water intake. I was told by the doctor to try to let Dylan drink plenty of water. He was slightly dehydrated by the time we got to the doc's.

He also had his first sip of bubble tea just to cheer him up and also enabled him to swallow some rice and pandan cake.

He is energetic as usual, but exceptionally clingy, which is fine for me. I love him being clingy around me because I think boys grow out of such clingy phases very quickly so.. I'm milking every opportunity here lol.

Sometimes, I think that being a working (albeit part-time for me) mom, we really need a lot of support from our work place. Ok, not just support, but also empathy.

I'm beating around the bush here but let me be straight forward: I was actually very upset with my colleagues this morning when I called them to inform them I had to be on urgent leave because of this HFMD episode.

To be fair, I am the sole person in the position for what I do and should I not be around, they will need to get another part-timer (even more part-time than me lol) to stand in for me. In order for them to do that, I will need to tell them in advance on days when I had to be on leave.

I do understand that such arrangements meant that even though as a part-timer, I have a rather huge responsibility to ensure smooth operations and on my credit, I don't take any MC at all even though I have days when I feel under the weather and I will always, always let my management know in advance whenever I needed day offs for Dylan's immunizations, check-ups etc.

Except today, which very obviously, was an episode that I was totally unprepared for.

I called colleague A, who was in-charge of the operations, but her phone was turned off at about 7.45AM. No choice, I called Colleague B, whom I am sure she is still asleep because she wouldn't need to be in the office until the afternoon.

I told her the situation and that Dylan will not be allowed in the center because he is very likely down with HFMD. There had been a breakout on 3 and 4th of Feb while we were away and since we were only back yesterday, we received no news of it at all until this morning.

"But he is not in the center during the outbreak what?" she said.

I don't know if it's because I was worried over Dylan at that point of time and hence the agitation, or it was because of the pure ignorance that came out of her. I could almost hear the underlying words of this sentence - "Are you kidding me? First you went on a holiday and then your son came down with HFMD. So zhun or not."

I held my breath and told her that Dylan was most likely infected before he left for holidays. (To the uninformed, HFMD viruses incubate inside the body for about 5 to 7 days before breakout)

In all honesty, I felt bad to wake her up at 7.45AM because of work issues. Nobody should be waken up from their well-deserved sleep for work. I am also not upset with the lack of knowledge on HFMD, since this is a disease that is largely limited to children and if they are single or do not have young kids, they may not understand the scenario well.

All I was looking for was actually some form of empathy and understanding, which I never got between the two colleagues that I spoke with. Our manpower is actually very small, so 2 colleagues showing unhappiness about the extra trouble I got them in, instead of understanding that I didn't meant things like that to happen, really made me very upset.

The first colleague whom I tried to call but didn't get through, I dropped her whatsapp messages instead to explain the situation. And you know what?

After rows and rows of texts to explain as clearly as possible, with pictures of Dylan's hands and legs and the school's notices to prove that I am not trying to weasle my way out of work after a week of holidays (even though I must admit I am suffering from post-holiday blues, but hey, I have much more responsibility than this)...... she only replied me with one sentence:

"You now then say"

Really, I do not appreciate such curt and rude replies at all because I don't think I've been irresponsible at all. In fact, I informed my work place even before I called Nian to let him know about Dylan's condition.

I told her that I didn't think it was HFMD because it all looked like rashes, blah blah blah... but there was not a single reply from her. Even after I sent her an image of Dylan's MC to prove that he was indeed down with it. No "I hope he gets well soon", no "don't worry, we'll get it sorted. You go take care of him", NOTHING.

Zero empathy. All blame and silent messages for me for informing them last minute. Like I had planned for my son to be down with the disease so that I can skip one week's worth of work.

Perhaps I am asking for too much, because empathizing and caring words are what I'd say to my colleagues and help with whatever I can because hey, we're all in the same boat.

So.. you know. I'm feeling a little chilled in my heart right now. It makes me wanna make a decision to NOT care about them and be upset with additional work I had to do when they are unable to do it themselves. This is not me, of course, but a nagging voice in me says, "Why be nice to them?"

I looked at the bag of goodies I bought back for them from Melbourne and I proceeded to open them up and ate them myself. I will not give Tim Tams to people who upset me.

And in another tone, get well soon Dylan. What a mighty 18-months gift you have from God, lol.

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