Saturday 1 March 2014

The Sunday Parenting Party - Coping with Chickenpox

(Goblin is 4 years old)

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from Goblin's nursery asking if they could give him Calpol because he wasn't feeling too good. He'd had a bit of a cold over the weekend but he'd been OK that morning so I'd sent him (one of those difficult decisions where I might have made a different call if I hadn't had to go to work that day). 
Feeling guilty I left work early and picked him up. He was tired and had a bad cold but no temperature or other symptoms. However, that night as I got him changed for bed I found the first obvious signs of chickenpox. He had a couple of red spots on his back and a few on his shoulder. Not many, and you could have easily missed them. I knew straight away that it was chickenpox because the spots had the distinctive little blister in the center. 

Itchy Spots 
Over the next few days Goblin got more spotty. The spots come in waves. One minute he had only a few, an hour latter there would be a whole new patch.We were very lucky, he had quite a mild case with only a few clusters. We didn't get any of the horrors of spots in the mouth or ears. And he wasn't too itchy either. 
But on the advice of friends and the pharmacist we invested in 
  • Piriton liquid - a liquid antihistamine which worked well; 
  • Poxcilin, a foam that you apply to the spots when they get itchy (Goblin liked having this applied); and 
  • E45 itch relief cream. 
Calamine lotion is the old school remedy, but modern advice is to avoid it because it dries the spots out too quickly thus making them more itchy. A friend of mine suggested Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream which is a great moisturiser for when the spots turn scabby. But I'm afraid at £25 a tiny tube Goblin would have had to be suffering a lot more than he was for me to spend that kind of cash.
For spots in the mouth a friend recommended ice lollies. 

Goblin's main symptom was fatigue. He'd get up and walk into the kitchen and that would be enough to make him need to lie down on the floor. The NHS Choices guide to chickenpox says to keep children off school or nursery for approximately 5 days (until the pots have crusted over). Its been 14 days now and Goblin still isn't well enough to go back. He is still exhausted. 
For the first few days he just lay on the sofa and watched endless episodes of Octonauts. But once he got at least some energy back I started laying out very easy basic activities, ones that didn't tax his brain. We did tissue paper and sticky back plastic sun catchers, potato printing, finger painting. He asked to do sensory play, its something he often turns to when he is feeling under the weather. I think its restful. I made a fresh batch of cloud dough and binned it after as it would have been full of chickenpox infection. 

We did a lot of imaginary play because Goblin was under quarantine. I had to explain that we couldn't have playdates because most of his friends hadn't had chickenpox. Simple activities like baking were about all he could cope with. We made pox biscuits, and were forced to eat them all ourselves because they had been made by chickenpox boy so couldn't be shared outside the family. 

Outdoor play
By day four of quarantine Goblin was wanting to play with friends. I discovered that his older friends on the estate had already had chickepox so I let him play outside with them. He didn't last long because he was still so tired. The fresh air was good for him though and over the next few days we increased the amount of time we spent outside. He was very good about moving away from areas where there were other children when I took him to the country park. 

Patience and love
Goblin still has visible spots but they are crusted over so he could go back to nursery except he is still too tired. And that is exhibiting in some horrendous behaviour. He has overly emotional responses to the tiniest of things. Its hard to remember that he is still ill and that is why he is not acting rationally (or as rationally as a four year old ever does). 
After a particularly bad explosion of hitting and scratching because of something exceedingly minor. the other day he was sent to his room to calm down. Less than five minutes later, when we went to check on him we discovered him fast asleep in his bad. This is a reminder that he is still recovering and needs extra patience and love (although with the raging beasty its quite hard to administer).

Considering vaccination?
There is a vaccination against chickenpox. It's not offered as part of the national childhood immunisation programme in the UK. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation considered it and there is a very thorough explanation of why they didn't add it. You can find the statement here. We thought about getting Goblin vaccinated privately, but weighed up the costs, benefits and risks (the main risk being unknown duration of efficacy leading to potential exposure in later life when symptoms can be worse) and decided that we'd hold off and vaccinate if he hadn't caught the illness by the time he went to high school. As it happens we won;t have to make the decision now, but if you are considering it I would recommend reading the JCVI statement so you can make an informed choice. 
Taming the Goblin

 My favourite reads from last week include
Kids are dirty, but the messier the clothes the bigger the memories ~ What's up Fagans? 
Peaceful Parenting, Peaceful Home ~ Lemon Lime Adventures
11 thoughts from my 11 months of parenting ~ Dads the way I like it
Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.) 

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