Here today, gone tomorrow.

During the chaos that is a family of 6 in springtime, I managed to acquire Parvovirus B19, more commonly known as “Fifth Disease”. (Why is it called that? ” Here’s your Somewhat-Useful-Fact for the day, courtesy of

I’d been volunteering quite a bit at the girls’ school, helping out with the musical production that Daughter #2 was involved with, when, toward the end of rehearsals and close to show time, I woke up one morning with incredible swelling in most of my joints (fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, feet) and incredible pain in those areas too. Could barely walk, hands were pretty useless, and the whole situation deteriorated over a couple of days until by Day 3 or so I was unable to hold a pencil, steering wheel, open the fridge, or generally function. Several panels of labwork later, and it was confirmed I had contracted Parvo B19. And although in the short-term it’s not a good time, in the grand scheme I fully anticipate a complete recovery — so I’m holding off on the pity party.

The relief at having a diagnosis was immediate — and I think I felt better physically, just knowing what this thing was. And the whole experience — the waking up debilitated and in pain — really served as a wakeup call. WHAT IF I woke up one morning and my world had changed like that? If I were incapacitated permanently? YIKES. I thought often over the Days of Swelling and Pain about another woman/mother/blogger I’ve never met, but whom I follow in the blogosphere and on Twitter — Anissa of She had a stroke last fall and is slowly but surely making her way back, with a humor and grace that is admirable and should be emulated by all of us when we decide that this mothering gig is too hard/too unrewarding/generally an energy suck.  (Yes, I can’t wear my wedding ring because my fingers are the size of mini-sausages, but at least I can make my way across the room to pick it up and attempt to jam it on.  Be grateful and graceful.)

As my husband reminds my children, and occasionally me, have some ‘GR” with that attitude. (Ok, if you do that it’ll be spelled wrong, but you get the idea.)

And, for those of you who enjoy irony and poetic justice, it would appear that I have passed Parvo B19 on to Son #1. He doesn’t seem to be too ill — just feverish enough to remain home from school watching pay-per-view movies (because even 450 channels isn’t enough for a 9-year-old). I’m sympathetic, but not overly so….the offspring take and take and take, so I think this falls under the category of “Kids, be careful what you take from Mommy.”

And, shall we wager a bit? Some over/under action? Or odds? What’re the chances that Parvo B19 has its way with the rest of this crew?

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25 Responses to “Here today, gone tomorrow.”

  1. Joanna Says:

    Love this. Hate that you are sick, but love your thoughts, humor, life observations–as always. Especially enjoyed the takeandtake thing about the kids. Sometimes I wonder how many “takes” it will be before the patience and sense of humor and humanity are altogether gone. Who could it be “re-stocking” us each night whilst we (fitfully) slumber? The fact that we don’t ever really seem to be completely depleted (ok–aside from illness, postpartum, etc.–a.k.a. : extreme situations)makes me pretty sure of a Higher Power, I’ll tell you that. Hope my kids thank Him or Her!

  2. Raul Alanis Says:

    Glad to know you are over it. I have never heard of it before. What a scary feeling to wake up with something like that. I can’t even imagine.

  3. Breland Kent Says:

    Really nice blog, thanks for sharing :)

  4. izziedarling Says:

    Hope everyone in your family gets better!

  5. nifstevens Says:

    When my children developed this I thought it was something that came from a third world country. How rare, I thought. Apparently not. It’s very scary–the name even sounds scary. I hope you all can recover for Mother’s Day where you can celebrate your family’s good health (and you. :)

  6. mamacarriemakes Says:

    I’m going to have to steal that one from your husband to use at my house.
    What a wake up call! Happy to hear you’ve got a diagnosis to work with, a treatable one at that. What would I do if I could not use my hands? A post in the works!
    Here’s hoping the 5th disease goes no further in your family.

  7. Heather Says:

    My son had fifth disease as a young boy–and it scared the life out of me. His face swelled to huge proportions–and looked ghastly. His hands and feet were red and swollen, too. Turned out, it was because he’d been exposed to some old, mouldy insulation from renovations at camp. Found it it’s also referred to as hand, foot and mouth disease (not to be confused with foot in mouth disease). :)

  8. melanirae Says:

    A coworker of mine had that a few years ago. It was awful. Glad to hear you are doing better!

  9. agardenfriend Says:

    The perils of parenting are many. Glad you are recovering and hope it doesn’t go too far in the family. We used to have a rash called “Coxacie Virus” (sp?) which made everybody exhausted, feverish with blisters on hands, neck and feet as well as in the mouth. Very uncomfortable but nothing like sausage fingers. Great images here! Thanks for the humor, we’re all dancing as fast as we can and are enjoying a few laughs along the way.

  10. jasingerman Says:

    Note to Heather and agardenfriend:

    Fifth Disease and Hand, Foot Mouth are different, and HFM is caused by coxsackie virus.

    Fifth disease is a lot milder in most kids than you had it, though. Mostly, they just get those slapped-looking red cheeks and a lacy red rash that’s worse in sun-exposed areas. Take it from an old pediatrician, there’s no justice.

    Joel (

    Heather says:

    Oh, thanks for passing that on–it’s what we were told by the family doctor. :)

  11. Songbird Says:

    Oh most likely will make it through the rest of your crew…lol… I work in a school, I do first aid- everything will work through everyone…lol… well, all joking aside- yes, indeed, at least it’ll be a fleeting thing… hope you and your son will feel better soon!

  12. april Says:

    Sorry to hear that you have been ill, but this is a beautiful post. It is very inspiring. Every now and then we need to be reminded of how precious each day is.

  13. Ann's Rants Says:

    In addition to feeling awful, my anxiety would’ve been through the roof.

    Did I mention I volunteer in the classroom?


    Hey, thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I’m honored!


    Alyson says:

    Your post about the recital was *genius*. Thanks for writing it — brought back so many memories!
    And as for the blogroll, I want to spread the joy I get from reading so much awesome stuff…keep it coming!

  14. ?? ???????? Says:

    Hi dear
    Nice blog, but I don’t know why lots of your blogrolls were filtered in my country 😉

  15. FutureTunez Blog Says:

    hey great post i love here today gone tomorrow!

  16. brilliantmindbrokenbody Says:

    When I went abroad in college, I got a parvovirus. It completely stumped the student health doctor for weeks, until a blood test revealed it.

    It shows up SO much worse in adults than in kids! I was told that in kids, the main thing that it causes is a rash on the cheeks, from which it gets the name ‘Slap-cheek’.

    Me, though…I was laid up very badly for weeks, and had low energy for months afterwards. I don’t know if they told you this, but you need to take it slowly when you start getting back to ‘normal’ or you can cause yourself a relapse!

    The thing about the sudden disability stuff – which I have lived through, too – is that once the initial shock wears off, you start developing coping mechanisms and figuring out how to live your life with the new disability. Being sick doesn’t really compare, because when you’re just sick, you don’t have to adapt and continue life as usual – you can take a break and heal, because after all, you’re sick. You also don’t make the mental adjustment that makes things not bad, because you don’t have a reason to. Life with a disability is different, yes, but it doesn’t carry the same sense of disruption that being sick does. There’s very much a limit to how accurately you can compare being sick to being disabled, especially if part of that reaction is ‘This is so awful, how could someone live like this all the time? They must be miserable!’


  17. when i was 8 i wanted to be.... Says:

    Love your blog and understand the issues. My hubby was diagnosed about a year ago with severe rheumatoid arthritis so swollen joints is something I have seen before. Hubby does okay on lots of drugs, not ideal but you’ve got to deal with it.

    I am very glad that yours is not a permanent condition and that the son is getting his recovery from pay-per-view. The positive attitude you have will keep your right:)

    Take care of you and yours.

  18. pajamadays Says:

    No fun! I sure hope you start feeling better soon. It is no fun to be sick and still be “on the clock”. I am enjoying getting to know your blog this week!

  19. theonlycin Says:

    Goodness, I’ve never heard of it, I do hope you get better soon.

  20. GraceKay Says:

    Oh my goodness how horrible! It’s miserable when you’re the mom and sick… don’t always seem to get the help you need.

    Hope no one else gets it and hope you and #1 get over it quickly!!

  21. unforgiven Says:

    This blog is very good. Thanks for this. I will bookmark this page.

  22. ondiluss Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  23. richard Says:

    I was laid low by parvo. Problem was that my infection became chronic, or at least the effects did. Adults really need to be aware of the danger of this disease. It’s generally transient, but it can be a real stumbling block.

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