Childhood Diseases Reaching Out to Adults

16 12 2014

Angelina Jolie has chickenpox, and a passel of NHL players suffers at home with mumps. What’s going on?

Adults are getting knocked sideways by childhood illnesses because (1) when they were children, they missed one or more recommended vaccines, (2) there were no vaccines for certain diseases when they were young, or (3) the protection they received as children from vaccines is waning.

It’s also possible that a vaccine simply didn’t work for this or that person. It happens.

I was already an adult when the chickenpox vaccine first became available. A couple of years prior to the release of that vaccine, my little nephew became infected. He was miserable, and as his parents were out of town, I was the go-to person.

I bathed him in cool water to help bring down his temperature (does that really work?). I cuddled with him, and generally took care of him until his parents came home.

A couple of weeks later, my face erupted in what I thought were spectacularly huge pimples. They flattered my shiny new adult braces and first-ever pair of glasses.

I could not understand why I was breaking out, and then I remembered. My nephew.

I called my mom to see if I’d had chickenpox as a kid, and you already know the answer.

Well, that was a long time ago, and I can happily report my nephew and I had complete recoveries.

All this is to say that diseases lurk. It doesn’t matter how old or young we are, if we’re not protected, we’re open to infection. And, diseases from our childhood pose just as much risk to us as adults.

It takes one phone call or email to the healthcare provider’s office. Ask about all vaccine-preventable diseases, and where you are in your level of protection.



by Trish Parnell

All Hallows Eve

31 10 2011

Behold, it is a dark and thunderous night (but please, no rain, or the toilet paper will be impossible to lob over the tree limbs).

It is—BOM BOM BOM  . . . All Hallows Eve. The night that invites superstition, just as the dawn invites the dew.

What superstitions have we, this 31st of October? Let’s share—

Parents in remote villages in India believe a measles infection indicates a visit from God, and to vaccinate would deprive their child of that visit. They also believe the vaccine will cause the number “666” to appear on their child’s body.

Spitting three times, or saying “pooh, pooh, pooh” after the birth of a healthy baby will, according to some, ward off the evil eye and protect the babe from demons.

Should you want to get back at the kid who stole your cupcake, surreptitiously rubbing a toad on his skin will cause an outbreak of warts (bwahahahahah).

Hordes of healthcare workers believe a full moon brings chaos and disruptive patients to the Emergency Department and that Fridays, particularly Friday the 13th, bring excessive trauma cases and even more chaos. And, should anyone suggest a shift is “quiet,” all of hell will actually break loose.

In parts of Ukraine, mothers will not bathe children infected with chickenpox until all lesions are crusted over, believing it not safe for the child.

A few baseball players believe peeing on their hands will toughen them up (the hands, not the guys). At least one NHL player repeatedly dunked his hockey stick in the toilet to break scoring slumps and another talked to the net posts to make them his friends, believing they would cause opponents’ pucks to bounce off the posts during games.

In Louisiana, a few years back, some believed that a nosebleed could be stopped by putting cobwebs up the nose, yellow paper under the top lip, or by crisscrossing two match sticks in one’s hair and sprinkling salt in the hair. Teething woes were fixed by tying an animal bone or alligator tooth to a string and hanging it around the neck, although garlic in a pouch would do in a pinch.

One can dive deep to find superstitions, or it’s as easy as asking relatives. Superstitions abound, and the magical thinking is practiced by a surprising number of Americans.

Just what do you believe, on this All Hallows Eve? Will you step on a crack, and risk breaking your mother’s back?

By Trish Parnell