Category Archives: True Stories

A baby gave ME whooping cough–Marguerite’s Tale

It’s January 2006 and Marguerite is working as the lead teacher in the infant room at a daycare. In the season of viral colds, these small children are in and out of the classroom with stuffy noses and watery eyes almost daily. But she notices that one child has been particularly sick for several days and is not looking well. She sends the child home with a fever and reminds the parents of the daycare policy: the child must be fever free for 24 hours before returning to class.

Thinking nothing of it, she returns to work. Two days later the child returns, however gets sent home the following day, again, with a fever. This time the parents take the child to the doctor where they send him to the hospital–a hospitalization that lasts three days.

At around the time the child is hospitalized Marguerite starts to feel like she’s coming down with similar symptoms. The first few days she feels like she has a bad cold and then she gets woken in the night by a terrible coughing attack. Now her throat full of mucous and she’s having difficulty breathing. Continue reading

I Had Shingles Twice–in College AND While Pregnant

Shingles is what you get when the chickenpox virus flares back up in your body again. When you get better from chicken pox the virus goes to sleep (dormant) in your nerve roots. For lots of people the virus stays dormant forever, but in times of weakened immune system (from stress/injury/certain medicines/other reasons) the chicken pox virus comes back out and causes shingles (not chicken pox). You can catch the chickenpox but you cannot catch the shingles.

Meredith with her two children having a great time at the beach! Everyone is happy and healthy!

Shingles is a painful skin rash that usually appears in a strip, band, or small area on once side of the face/body. Symptoms include headache, light sensitivity, flu-like feeling (no fever), itching/tingling/pain in infected area, and rash that turns to fluid-filled blisters that crust over. Some people feel dizzy or weak. And some people may have vision changes or loss of vision due to rash around the eye or other more extreme complications.

This was once thought of as something you get when you’re getting up there in age–say, pushing 70–but really, people of a much younger age are coming down with scary cases of shingles. I believe this is because we live much faster-paced, high-stress lives than people once did.

College is a time of high-stress for many people. When you go off to college you’re on your own for often the first time, you’re eating poorly (or I was), staying up too late…I could go on, but you get it.

Meridith was one such unlucky college gal that got shingles–twice. While it’s not very common to have shingles twice (extremely uncommon to have shingles more than twice), some people do get it more than once.

Continue reading

MMR Vaccine Rash

My son got his first Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine (MMR) a little over two weeks ago. This vaccine has gotten a lot of negative press lately, but it really IS a great vaccine. One reason why it’s so great is because it contains weakened live viral particles. Live vaccines create the strongest immune response because they are most like the disease-causing virus. The not so fun part about a live vaccine is that, because they are most like the wild virus, the body often displays some of the symptoms of the disease. Many children experience these mild symptoms with the MMR vaccine:IMG_4870


  • Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
  • Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
  • Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75), which occurs less often after the second dose.
  • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)

Because it takes time for the body to create an immune response (that we can see), many of these symptoms do not show up until around two weeks after the injection. And to the DAY, my son developed several of these mild symptoms.

I’m sure my kids don’t appreciate this, but I always find their symptoms fascinating. That’s why you see a lot of pictures of my children’s symptoms–they get everything, by the way. And I’m often happy to see these signs as I know that their bodies are making the proper response to the injection. (I know, that’s odd.)

Anyway, he ran a fever for several days about two weeks after the injection, and then he developed the measles-like rash. The rash was red and raised, mostly on his torso and face. I am including a picture of his tummy.

I wanted to post this because so many people come to me wondering if this is a serious problem or a vaccine allergy. But, in the case of the above problems, no treatment is needed, and the symptoms should go away in several days. If the child is getting worse, however, it might be wise to consult your child’s doctor.





Hand, Foot, and Mouth: If you have kids, this is a must read!

A virus that causes the hand, foot, and mouth disease has plagued my home. And since it’s taken over my days and nights, I feel the need to pull something positive from it.  I want all of you parents to know how to spot it, how to handle it, and how to protect other children from getting sickStevie's hand.

My son, Stevie, was the first to get sick, and now my daughter has it too. I’m going to share our story along with some helpful information incase this takes over your home. I also want to share the pictures I took of my son and daughter.

What is hand foot and mouth?

This is a disease caused usually by Coxsackievirus A-16 and less frequently by Enterovirus 71. This virus usually affects small children (Infants to 5 years) much worse than it does for older children and adults.

What does it look like?

Stevie's FootHand, foot, and mouth begins with a mild fever (101 F-102 F), diminished appetite, sore throat, and a general feeling of being sick. A few days after the fever begins, painful sores develop in the mouth. The sores usually begin in the back of the mouth but may move to the inside of the cheeks, tongue, gums, and lips. These sores may begin as red dots and tend to develop into blisters that may pop, leaving lesions or ulcers. This rash is then seen on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, knees, genital  area, and lower calf.Stevie's Toe

My son came down with the fever first, as is typical. I figured he was coming down with a little something and didn’t think much of it. A few days later he would not eat, was incredibly cranky, and just not himself. That night a few sores had appeared on his butt, calves, and feet. He did not sleep that night. In the morning his palms, calves, bottom, and feet were covered in terrible oozing blisters and red-purple spots. The next few days were long. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, and couldn’t be put down. After four days of not eating, still having high fevers, and the worst blisters I’ve ever seen, I took him in to see a doctor. Like I figured, there wasn’t much he could do to help him, but he did tell me that Stevie’s case was the worst case he had ever seen. That’s why I wanted to share this story and these photos. Continue reading

Surviving Polio: Jerry’s Story

Polio isn’t something you hear much about if you live in the developed world. And thanks to the polio vaccine, it has been eradicated from the United States. But due to the fall in vaccine rates, the chances that the United States will see polio outbreaks is inclining. That’s because polio still exists; it’s hiding out in developing countries, and only a plane ride away from being at our doorstep.

Jerry before polio, age ?.

Jerry before polio, age 7.

The polio vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines at preventing disease. Since its introduction in the U.S. in 1955, the number of cases fell drastically. In the mid century there were around 35,000 cases reported (and countless cases unreported) each year, 3,000 cases in 1960, and just 10 in 1979.1 Since 1980, the United States has been polio-free. And remember, that’s because of the polio vaccine. Just because we haven’t seen a case since then, if left unvaccinated, it doesn’t mean you are immune.

So why keep getting vaccinated? We vaccinate to make sure that should this virus make its way back into our country, it doesn’t run wild. The virus needs to have nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. Because people can carry polio and spread it without ever getting sick or realizing they have the virus.

And that’s exactly what happened to Jerry in 1950. Continue reading