Will had quite a bout with illness this past weekend.

We left Thursday from Atlanta on our way to Durham, NC for the weekend. We were going to a wedding and going to visit friends we have in that area. We were planning on stopping in Greenville, SC (the mid-point) for the night and then driving the rest of the way Friday morning.

Unfortunately, on the car ride to Greenville, small red spots began to form on Will. Malin noticed them on his arms. We pulled over and inspected him to discouragingly find spots all over his body. They weren’t horrible looking, but they were everywhere. We phoned a nurse at his pediatrician’s office. She suggested Benadryl in case it was an allergic reaction.

The spots had grown by the time we arrived in Greenville. We were staying at my parents’ house in Greenville, and had dinner with them. When it was Will’s bath time that night, we found that things had gotten much, much worse. The spots had turned into hives: there were large, irregularly-shaped, red patches all over – covering most of his back and the right side of his chest. So we went to the emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital in Greenville. The bad rash helped us to get through triage quickly. Apparently the folks there were nervous about his condition being contagious.

When we finally saw the doctor, he told us that, despite having been vaccinated, Will had chicken pox (also known as “Varicella” or “HHV-3”). My mom said she’d never seen chicken pox look like that, but we all figured that the doctor knew what he was talking about. So we were prepared for a tough weekend. That evening was miserable. Will’s rash began to bother him quite a bit, and it was very, very itchy. He finally fell asleep around 4am. Friday we notified family and friends that we couldn’t make it to Durham, canceled our hotel reservations, and then got on the road driving back to Atlanta.

The ride home wasn’t so bad. Will had come to accept his “mittens” – we put socks on his hands to prevent him from scratching (or at least prevent him from scratching with his fingernails). He watched Finding Nemo and a DVD of Peep and the Big Wide World episodes on the way home. He also ate a little, though not much.

When we arrived home, Ann (Will’s other grandmother) came by to see the sick boy. She made the same comment that my mother had made: that this didn’t look anything like chicken pox. So that night I began to investigate online. Sure enough, Will’s rash was not chicken pox. He had no blisters or sores or anything resembling chicken pox. What it did look like was Urticaria (which is just a fancy name for hives). Urticaria is usually caused from an allergic reaction, including food allergies. We were worried that we’d never be able to go to Taco Bell again! (That is where we ate just prior to the rash showing up on Thursday.) But some things I read indicated that an allergic reaction should only last a few hours – or overnight at the longest. Will had now had the rash for over 24 hours, and it didn’t look like it was going away any time soon. I had also read that in children this kind of rash is often caused from viral infection.

So the next day, Saturday, we went to an urgent care facility to have another doctor look at Will. The research I had done online actually hit the new diagnosis on the head perfectly. The doctor said that he had a virus and was having a reaction to it. They drew some blood (of which Will wanted no part) and took swabs of Will’s saliva in order to run some tests. All tests were negative, meaning that he did not have any of the serious viruses for which they were testing (which is a good thing). The doctor recommended keeping him on Benadryl and Ibuprofen. This should help the itching and discomfort as well as keep his temperature down in case the virus gave him a fever. At this point the rash had pretty much disappeared from his back, but was all over his face and looked down-right frightening on his legs. He was also a little swollen in the face, and his hands and feet were very swollen.

He ate a little more that night. He had no appetite through the whole thing, so it was difficult keeping him full of fluids. But by late evening his legs looked much better. That night was a little bit better and a little bit less restless than the previous two nights. When we awoke, the worst of it appeared to be over. He was still swollen, but most of the rash had disappeared. All that remained was a few spots on his back, some small patches on his stomach and chest, and a few spots on the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. That was Sunday morning. He had a better appetite and was drinking more fluids that day.

Last night, Will slept nearly through the night. When we woke up, the rash seems to have completely disappeared. Will is still a little swollen, but not nearly so bad as the past couple of days. He is also much more active and is behaving more like himself.

So hopefully we are through it, and the virus is on its way out the door.