Mum loses fingernails, toenails and hair from HFMD

Day 2: More spots appeared. A visit to the general practitioner confirmed that I had HFMD. By evening, blisters had spread to my fingers and wrist area. I was itching like crazy, and managed to sleep only after applying calamine lotion.

Day 3: I woke up and discovered that my hands were covered with bulbous, freaky-looking sores. I couldn’t open and clench my fist without wincing in pain. There were red spots on my feet, too.

Every spot was itchy and I couldn’t stop scratching.

I cried as I changed Conran’s diaper that afternoon. The diaper’s coarse texture grazed my blistered hands – it was sheer torture!

When my husband, Adrian, arrived home from work, I showed him my hands and grumbled that I had been struggling the whole day, even in the toilet.

Perhaps I should go to the hospital, I said.

We arrived at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital at 8pm. I was sent to the isolation ward and put on a drip.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease physician, told me that it’s very rare for adults to get HFMD.

He warned that throat ulcers would appear the next day and to be prepared that I wouldn’t be able to walk for a few days if I developed sores on my feet.

Day 4: My hands were so swollen; my skin was stretched taut.

I had fluids pumped into me regularly to prevent dehydration, and I needed to relieve myself every hour.

But my achy feet made it painful for me to walk to the bathroom (the doctor didn’t want me to use a catheter).

I had no choice but to call the nurse for support every time nature beckoned.

For the first time in my life, I also needed a nurse to help bathe me as I couldn’t hold the shower head or flip-open the shampoo bottle cap, much less scrub my hair.

I bathed with assistance for the next six days.

Day 5: Ulcers had developed at the back of my throat, making swallowing difficult.

Even eating cooled porridge was like stuffing a spiky ball down my throat. It hurt like crazy!

And no, ice cream did not help at all because something in that creamy substance made my ulcers sting.

Iced water was painful, cold jelly was bad… I stopped eating and drinking altogether.

Thank goodness for the drip.

Day 6: I still couldn’t eat or drink – the pain from swallowing was just unbearable. I distracted myself by watching TV.

I couldn’t carry Conran and showed him my hands, explaining that Mummy was in pain.

He seemed to understand.

Day 7: My feet didn’t develop blisters as initially thought; just painful red sores.

But my mouth, cheek and chin area broke out in a red rash.

I discovered a wonderful drink that I could down without wincing: Iced chamomile tea! I drank this like water.

I couldn’t hold the cup handle properly because of finger blisters. My tongue developed ulcers today.

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