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Don’t get me wrong, I&rsqu ...

Posted Nov 21 2008 3:10pm

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about learning new things. So when the school nurse called on Tuesday to scold us for sending Little Miss to school with a rash (her father had put cream on it in the morning, thinking it was just a little heat rash from sleeping in the flannels she won’t give up), she ended with saying, “It’s all right though. It’s just fifth disease–once she gets the rash, she’s not contagious any more.”

Fifth disease? We’re putting them in order now? Huh?

Of course that prompted a visit to our primary medical source–no, not the doctor, WebMD: Fifth disease is a very common childhood illness. Adults can get it too. It is sometimes called “slapped cheek disease” because of the rash that some people get on the face.

Okay. I understand that. But fifth? I associate that term with containers of liquor and a rather odd bank name in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. No, no wait! The handy WebMD comes to the rescue!

The name “fifth disease” originated in 1905, when a French physician assigned numbers to the common childhood diseases characterized by rashes. For example, measles was “first disease,” scarlet fever was “second disease,” rubella was “third disease,” and so on. Eventually, the numerical names for these diseases were replaced, except in the case of fifth disease, which remains today.

Still. Parvovirus. I remember that term associated with sick dogs back in the day. Apparently not the same buggy. Cool. So she stayed in school and everyone was happy.

Except for one small problem.

I’d set an appointment with the doctor already, because her behavior has been WAY out of line and uncharacteristically angry and defiant. Because she doesn’t verbalize well, this is often a clue that something’s not okay. She also spiked a little fever on Monday…and last week had that fabulous episode where she threw up in school and also in my car on the way home. Hurray. So I took her after school.

On the way there she was itching inside the front of her pants, and so when we got there, I took a look. Horrendous red rash all inside her pants, front and back, halfway up her tummy. It did NOT look like the pictures of Happy Numero Cinco disease whatsoever. Turns out there was a good reason for that: it’s not. It’s scarlet fever.

The doctor takes one look and pronounces this with ease. I’m thinking back to Little Women- -isn’t that what Beth died of?? People died from that, right? Holy cat crap, Batman! Fortunately he cut me off in mid-panic and pointed out that, yes it’s a strep infection, and yes people did die of it BEFORE THERE WERE ANTIBIOTICS. Everything is copacetic now. Keep her home tomorrow because she’s contagious until she has the antibiotics for 24 hours, take the pink stuff for ten days, everything will be fine, get a sticker at the door.

So she stayed home again, and in fact the rash is clearing up nicely. And as much as that school nurse has made my life hell this year by calling me at inopportune times about stupid things, I refrained from pointing out she was WRONG. Clearly she can’t count. Two comes before five. So there. Maybe she went to school during that new math, you know. Anyway, one more day till summer vacation. I can be tolerant of other’s shortcomings for one day. Karma points for me. And more pink stuff for Little Miss. Lots and lots of pink stuff.

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