Aegrotantophobia

Aegrotantophobia (noun) An irrational fear of sick children (I just made that word up, by the way, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?)

So twin 2 has spent the day at home today, thanks to the rash I mentioned in my earlier post. No skin off my nose – I am superdad. I can be perfectly productive while nursing a sick a child thank you very much. Well at least I can for a day. We don’t need to focus on the fact that he spent the day binge watching Spongebob Squarepants and eating pizza. He was happy. I was happy. Everyone was happy.

But following car journey number 9 this evening, this one to the doctor’s surgery, twin 2 was diagnosed with Slapped Check Disease, a horrific-sounding condition that brings to mind images of Victorian urchins being beaten about the face for not having swept the chimney properly, but is in fact almost entirely benign. Aside from an unpleasant looking and slightly itchy rash, and a very mild fever, he is in rude health.

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But note the word “almost” in the sentence about being benign. Apparently the single noteworthy thing about slapped cheek is that you should avoid contact with pregnant women. Now it so happens that one of our favourite teachers at the twins’ school is expecting twins in about four months time, and the doctor advised staying away from her, or indeed any of the other hordes of expectant mothers that he expected to find wandering the halls of the local primary school. When I asked how long I needed to keep twin 2 at home for, he offhandishly responded, “Oh, probably for the rest of the week.”

Excuse me? A week? One day of wall-to-wall Nickelodeon and dodgy junk food we can handle. But five days? Five days during which I’m going to have to, you know, do some work and stuff, go to meetings, not be tied to the house 24/7. You cannot be serious.

It was then that the wonders of modern medicine were demonstrated. Back in the day, you expected the doctor to know (a) what was wrong with you; and (b) how to treat it. But apparently these days, those would be lofty expectations indeed.

No, nowadays, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the doctor can come up with an idea of what he thinks the problem might be, then do a Google image search to check whether his diagnosis matches the symptoms, and then read a web guide about treatment, prognosis, and so on. Piece of cake, this doctoring lark. Apparently.

The important part of the story was that, upon reading said web guide a little more thoroughly, the doctor duly discovered that once slapped cheek is at the visible rash stage, it’s no longer contagious, so there’s no point in avoiding contact with vulnerable innocent bystanders. Thank Christ for that. Although quite how you would know you had slapped cheek before the visible rash stage is far beyond my newly acquired medical expertise.

So the good news is, touch wood, that I will not have a permanent house guest for the next week, so I can get on with the much more important task of worrying about what I’m going to do with my life.

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