I can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve posted to my little corner of the internet. We got a little sidelined here by illness and an event that shook up my entire family. I truly mean for this to be a regular gig, to keep in practice with my writing and to have a place to exorcise whatever bee is in my bonnet. So without further ado, let’s talk about the freak illness that is still plaguing me to some degree, and then I’ll get to the event in another post.

In November, the Cassandra was sidelined by hand, foot and mouth disease, or the Coxsackie A virus. It’s an enterovirus, a single-strand RNA virus in the same family as polio. It mutates constantly, and there’s been some pretty severe outbreaks lately. I am no epidemiologist but if I had to guess I’d say I got the A16 strain which was going around the US earlier this year, with a reported cluster in my home state. I know exactly how I caught it: my son had come down with what I would say a mild case, and was mostly over it when Sandy hit and we lost power for 72 hours. We had no hot water and no light and he had a potty accident that resulted in a less-than-stellar cleanup, and since Coxsackie can live in the stomach for awhile and I was the frontline of hazmat cleanup, I managed to catch it.

And holy cats, did I ever catch it. This particular strain is noted for its sore clusters and for sores appearing in places other than the hand, foot and mouth. For people playing at home, it started with a bad headache that lasted two days. Then came the sore throat and lethargy, followed by the characteristic blisters on my hands, face, arms, feet and especially my scalp. At the height of the blisters I couldn’t open bottles or jars, pick up anything that requires a strong grip or walk much further than my kitchen. At first, looking up anything on the internet about the virus led me to articles about how to help your toddler or newborn make it through; but what about me, the 43 year-old?

Even after the blisters passed I had areas of skin that continued to present as blistered on my hands and feet. While my hands have finally returned to normal (as normal as hands can be here in the frigid northeast winter) my feet still look like I wore new shoes on a day-long city trek. I am still generally exhausted as well, but that may have to do with other areas of my life being less-than-optimal at this point.

This whole experience generally freaked me out a little. I don’t think I have ever gotten a virus that actually changed my body, like this did with the blisters. I’ve gotten colds before, stomach viruses, sinus infections and two summers ago I had a staph infection in my leg. This just seemed more obvious; I had contracted a living organism that was using me, another living organism, to propagate itself.