Hand, Foot, and Mouth: A Conclusion

Readers, I promise I won’t be posting anymore pictures of my feet today.
You’re welcome.
Do you know why?

They are spotless.  As are my hands.

You can barely tell where the rash had been on my hands, and you can see a spot or two on my feet.  Henry’s one spot on his chin isn’t visible anymore, and the few on his hands are barely noticeable.

We have survived hand, foot, and mouth disease without any open rashes.

I count this as a huge win.

I will say upfront that I don’t believe we caught a severe case of the disease.  I believe the milder case of hand, foot, and mouth we had simply didn’t run as long as the disease often can (I read online the rash can be itchy for several days to a week).

However, I do believe that the essential oils blends I used help to heal the rash more quickly and prevented the rash from opening (in addition to not scratching, of course).

That being said, I want to share with you again the oil blends I used for the rash that came with hand, foot, and mouth disease:

On the rash itself:

5 drops lavender

5 drops tea tree

5 drops lemon

I put these together in a small roller and filled the rest of the roller with extra virgin olive oil.  I applied this about every hour when the rash was itchy/painful and less often as it bothered me less.

 

On the bottoms of the feet:

5 drops thieves

5 drops oregano

Same as above:  I put these in a roller and diluted with olive oil.  I applied this to the bottom of the feet about four times a day when the rash was itchy/painful and only twice a day the days it was visible by not bothersome.

I pray you never get this disease, but if you do, please try these blends out.  They just might help!

Hand, Foot, and Mouth: Part 2

Tuesday:

I slept very well Monday night.  After getting less than three hours of sleep the night before, I fell asleep on the couch (covered in a sheet for easy sanitization) around 8:30 PM.  My husband woke me around 11:00 PM to feed Little Guy, then I went back to sleep until about 6:00 AM.

Apparently Little Guy woke up two more times, but my husband consoled him and put him back to sleep.

Because he is a rockstar.

I think Little Guy’s poor night’s sleep was due to his sixth tooth making its way through his gums more than the hand foot and mouth (HFAM).  His tooth was visible this morning, but most of his upper thigh rash was gone.  He still has just one spot on his chin and about four on both hands.  He is a bit cranky today, but who knows if it’s still the tooth or the sickness.

He’s had a tough month, this poor little sir.

I, on the other hand, am feeling much better.  My hands no longer itch, nor are they very painful, even though they look about the same as they did yesterday.  None of the blisters have opened, and some even appear smaller!

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My feet are still a bit itchy and have a “pins and needles” sensation when I walk.  The rash has become more defined on my feet.

I am continuing to treat both Little Guy and I with the same essential oils blend as yesterday but less frequently.  I apply it about every 3-4 hours.

By Tuesday afternoon, Baby Brother is definitely more in teething mode than sick mode, and my hands and feet are hardly itchy or painful at all.

The Mayo Clinic website tells me I am contagious until my spots scab over.  Since they haven’t opened, I am not sure that will even happen.  Instead, I hope to be able to leave the house again once my spots and Little Guy’s spots fade significantly.

Wednesday:

I woke up without any itching sensation at all.  The rash on both my hands and feet is still visible, though the spots on my hands are turning more of a brownish color and fading.  The spots on my feet have become more defined and reddish, though they do not itch at all.  I treated the spots on my feet with the essential oils blend.

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Little Guy has the one spot on his chin, which is also turning more brownish than reddish.  The few spots on his hands look more defined.  I am not sure that any of the spots actually bothered him, since he never showed any signs of distress or discomfort on his mouth or hands.  I treated all of his visible spots again with the essential oils.

As it looks today, I believe we can leave the house by tomorrow or Friday.

Which is fabulous, because I am starting to get cabin fever already.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see how we continue to fare.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth: How We are Surviving It

Last week each of my girls had a fever.  For our Bean in the middle, her fever jumped pretty high, and I almost called the doctor for it.  She didn’t have any other symptoms, although she didn’t want to eat much.

A few days later her sister had a fever that lasted only a day, as well.  Hers wasn’t as high, but she did complain of a sore throat.  She, too, didn’t eat much that day or the next.

I hadn’t considered either of these episodes serious.  My kids tend not to get sick very often, and if they do, it’s for a very short period of time.  I assumed my middle child picked up a virus either on the playground, at the store, or at the library.  It’s easy to do.

Shortly after my oldest girl got sick I started to feel a bit under the weather.  I have been working on sleep training Baby Brother, and that has really diminished my hours of quality sleep at night (in hopes to eventually get more).  I assumed I was just getting tired from all of that.  Saturday afternoon my husband’s company had a huge picnic, and our little family spent all day playing, eating, walking, dancing, and bouncing.  It was a great time, but it definitely wore us all out.  We brought the stroller, and I ended up pushing Little Guy in it for a while because it was almost too hot to wear him.  I’ll start my illness progression right after that.

Sunday:  I woke up with a very sore throat, though I chalked it up to tiredness and the weeding I had done earlier in the weekend.  My palms were sore, and I thought it was because I had been pushing the stroller.  We didn’t think twice about piling into our van and heading to church.  By the time we got back and started lunch prep I noticed small red dots on my palms.  They itched quite a bit, and I considered they might be from stinging nettle that I may have touched accidentally.  Then I saw that Baby Brother had a similar spot on his chin, and he hadn’t been feeling himself for most of the morning.

A quick internet search led me to the conclusion that he and I both had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.

[What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?  It is commonly a childhood illness, affecting children five years old or younger.  It’s caused by one of two viruses:  Coxsackievirus A16 (most common) or Enterovirus 71.  The later has been linked to other much more serious diseases such as encephalitis, as well.  The disease is characterized by a fever (mild or severe, depending on the strain), following by a sore throat.  After the fever breaks, a rash appears, usually on the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, around the mouth, and in the diaper/groin area.  In children, this rash may itch a bit, but it doesn’t bother them as much as the lingering sore throat.  Throat blisters can last up to a week or more, and they can restrict appetite and food intact.  The disease is spread through bodily fluids (saliva, urine, feces, and open sores from the rash).  Because it is viral, there is no treatment for the disease, just symptom management.  Most adults do not contract the disease because they have already built up immunity to protect against it.]

By Sunday evening the spots on my hands became more visible, and more popped up.  My feet began to itch, and a few spots became visible there as well.  Baby Brother had only one spot on his chin and one on his thigh.  He had no fever but seemed irritable.

I searched the internet for any relief he and I could get that I didn’t have to leave the house for.  My husband had already left for work, and there was no way I was going to share this with the rest of town.

I made sure we both had plenty of fluids, and I fixed up two essential oils rollers:

The first roller, to be put directly on blisters, had 5 drops each of lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oils.  The second roller, to be used on the bottoms of our feed, had 5 drops each of thieves and oregano.  I used olive oil to dilute in both of these.  I treated both Little Guy and I twice before bed.

This is how my rash looked before I settled in for a long night:

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It certainly didn’t look all that bad, but it itched  A LOT.  And it was pretty painful.  It wasn’t painful enough to make me wince, though I had read that from other people’s stories about the disease.  Instead, it was just painful enough to keep me from falling asleep.  So at 1:00 am when my husband strolled through the door from work, expecting the house to be asleep, I was in an oatmeal bath.

I put 2 tbsp rolled oats, 1 tsp iodized salt, and 1 tbsp coconut oil into a wash cloth and put a rubberband around it to make a sachet of sorts.  I threw this into a warm (not hot!) bath with about 5 drops of lavender essential oil.

The oatmeal bath provided some relief, though not as much as I’d hoped.  I tossed and turned until Baby Brother woke me around 5:00 am.  He nursed back to sleep (lucky guy), and I just started my day.

Monday:  I moved about slowly, washing my sheets and any towels or washcloths I had used.  I let my husband climb back into bed (with clean sheets) to get some more rest.  My rash became more defined, and it definitely hurt more than it itched.  I also began to feel spots forming on my thighs and my back.  My throat was too sore to each much of anything.  It’s been a chicken broth and tea kind of day.

I am continuing to use our two essential oil blends quite a bit.  I estimate I’m putting it on both of us just about every hour.  My rash looked like this today:

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Again, it doesn’t look as bad as it itches.  I am, however, hoping to avoid the opening of any of these spots.  The liquid that oozes from them is very contagious, and it sounds absolutely gross.

Little Guy woke up around his normal time, and he was a bit fussier than normal.  He had several more spots on his thighs, though the one on his chin remained by itself.  He doesn’t seem bothered by the rash, but he is having some pain eating his solids.  He’s nursing quite a bit more today.

I intend to give both Baby Brother and I an oatmeal bath this evening.  I’ll continue to update on our progress and how our symptom management plan is working.

DIY Coconut Milk Deep Conditioner

Winters in Wisconsin are long, guys.

Did you know that?

I knew that.

I thought I was prepared.

But alas, I was not.

As a person with dry skin, I knew enough to keep myself stocked with tubs of coconut oil and shea butter so I wouldn’t dry out.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that the long Wisconsin winter would wreak havoc on my dry, curly hair.

I honestly waited too long to do a deep conditioning.  I should probably deep condition twice monthly in the winter months and monthly in the warmer months.  I had been frustrated with how my hair felt for months, yet just kept changing daily conditioners to find one that felt better.  What my hair actually needed was a good deep conditioning.

Here’s how I did it:

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In my microwave safe bowl, I measured 2 tbsp coconut oil and 2 tbsp honey.  I heated these for about 30 seconds, or just until the coconut oil melted and the honey become less viscous.  Then I mixed in 2 tbsp coconut milk2 tbsp yogurt (yes, that’s the stuff in the mason jar*), and  2 drops each lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil.

I had my hair in my usual “mom do”:

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Super classy.  I had to, of course, let it all down to put in the conditioner:

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Then, using my hands, I saturated my hair with the deep conditioner, from about 1″ from my roots all the way to the ends:

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I got about as much product as I could onto my hair without having it literally dripping wet.  I used nearly all of the product I made on my medium length, thick hair.  (If you have very long hair, I would suggest doubling the recipe.)

I put my hair back into my “mom bun”:

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I left my hair like this for almost an hour before I took a shower.  I washed the deep conditioner out with a homemade coconut milk shampoo (post pending).  I had to wash twice to get all the product out of my hair.

But oh.  My.  Goodness.  This deep conditioner left my hair feeling so lovely and soft.  And the smell!  There is something about lavender and coconut, isn’t there?

Try this recipe, and let me know how you like it!

All Natural Care – Burn Care

This may seem like an odd interlude in my series of posts about our big cross-country move.  I assure you, it is not.  I stumbled upon this simple and inexpensive way to care for burns while caring for my own burn only two and a half weeks ago.

I will confess that I am not what one would call graceful.  I can have two left feet, seem like a bull in a china shop, and trip over myself walking on flat ground.  Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, some more preventable than others.  I have recently had the unique opportunity (note my positive thinking) to have experienced two second degree burns within only a few years of each other.

The first burn I acquired on our honeymoon.  Being too young to rent a car without the extra “under 25” penalty, my husband and I opted to rent a moped.  It was much cheaper and oh so much more glamorous.  Until, of course, I climbed off the moped and rested my calf against the muffler.  Never having experienced any significant burn, I was completely unaware of how to care for a burn.  My husband and I rushed into the nearest store and bought some gauze, tape, aloe, and burn cream.

After a couple days we returned home, and I saw a doctor about the proper care of my burn.  He suggested I use an antibacterial cream (Bacitracin or Neosporin) in a thick layer under gauze that I should change three times daily.  Each time I changed the bandage I was to gently wash the burn with water and antibacterial soap.

This sounds like pretty standard wound care to most out there, I’m sure.  I will tell you it was excruciatingly painful.  Washing a second degree burn with soap made me really want to scream.  Every single time I did it.  The antibacterial cream was my only relief.

I didn’t learn until later (after having researched care for my most recent burn) that the antibacterial soap was continuously drying out the healing skin, as well as removing some of the precious new skin that desperately needed to heal.  Using this method my burn healed in about 3 1/2 – 4 weeks to a point that I no longer needed to bandage the area.

More recently, while my husband was in Wisconsin for a job interview, I experienced my second second-degree burn.  With our house on the market, I’d been keeping a good eye on our lawn, and I knew it would need to be mowed before my husband could come home to mow it.  One afternoon, while the girls were napping, I got the big Snapper out of the shed and took care of most of the front lawn.  I ran out of gas before I could finish all of it, and I hoped to just come behind with the push mower to finish up.  As I pushed the Snapper out of the way I felt my left knee go numb.  Walking back into the house for a drink of water I saw singed skin and two large white spots on my knee; there was no pain yet.

Familiar with the feeling of a second degree burn, I quickly got inside to run my knee under lukewarm (not cold!) water.  The pain came shortly after, and I had to take a few pain killers to get around the house that day.

As I researched online, I found some intriguing methods for caring for burns naturally.  I chose to combine a few of these methods to make a salve that I used in lieu of the antibacterial cream.  This salve included items that I already had in the house, and it was fairly inexpensive to make.

First, upon realizing I had burned myself on a DIRTY lawn mower muffler, I realized I had to clean out the wound a bit.  I diluted some apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water, and I blotted this on the burn.  I cleaned the burn like this only once, and it was quite painful.  I knew, though, that using the vinegar would kill any microbes I might have picked up from the muffler while also not disturbing the pH of my badly injured skin.

From there on out I used my homemade burn salve (recipe below) on the wound 3-4 times a day, covered with a non-stick gauze pad and wrapped loosely with an ACE bandage.  I found that taping the gauze pad to my leg was completely ineffective.  It would move or fall off within an hour or so, and it gave me little mobility.  The ACE bandage allowed me to move the easiest.

The first several days of this treatment were definitely still painful, as it is simply painful to touch a fresh wound.  As blood vessels regrew and healed, I felt each one sting and burn.  I was, however, seeing a lot of skin regrowth.  That was encouraging.

By day 4 I had to carefully use tweezers and toiletry scissors to remove some dead skin in order to allow the new skin to properly heal.  At this time the more lightly burned areas had already changed color from bright red to brown, indicating that they were well along in the healing process.

For a week and a half I continued with this process:  3-4 times a day I changed the bandage and reapplied the salve, never wiping or cleaning the wound, nor leaving it open to the air for any significant period of time.

By then, I was able to use a wet washcloth (lukewarm water again) to gently slough off dead skin and scabs at one bandage changing each day.  I saw great improvement daily by this point.  The two spots that had been large and white on the day of the injury were healing and growing smaller and smaller.  I felt much less pain, if any at all, and I was able to bend my knee with much greater ease.

At about 2 1/2 weeks out from the injury today, I can see that this burn is healing much quicker than my previous burn.  I have been able to sleep without the wound covered up for three nights now (coating it with coconut oil for moisture before bed time).  I hope to be bandage free by three weeks out, as well as nearly scar free by 5-6 weeks out.

I apologize for any excessive details about injuries in this post.  I hope that someone finds it helpful for treating their own burn some day.

Without further ado, my homemade, natural burn salve recipe:

Natural Burn Salve

1/4 cup raw honey

2 tbsp pure aloe gel

1 tbsp coconut oil

5-10 drops lavender essential oil

 

Melt coconut oil if solid.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and store salve in a jar with a tightly secure lid.  Will keep in a dry cabinet for a month or refrigerated for three months.

Hand Me Down Kitchen Tools

Yesterday my Beard and I were busy on a date night, which obviously took precedence over blogging, so I will share my “Thankful November” post from yesterday and today:

Sometimes I get frustrated that I do not get nice new things.  It seems every time I turn around someone is getting some new boots, a new coffee maker, a new car, a new house; you name it.  And we have old things.  Boots from Goodwill, an old Keurig (with a cracked, then repaired reservoir), one 2008 car and one 1997 car with 300,000+ miles, and a house built in the mid 1970’s.  Nothing we own is really new.

Well, except our girls, but we don’t own them.  And they’re getting pretty old anyway.  😉

But as I was working on pureeing my giant pumpkin yesterday (which is almost done) I realized I have been using a 25+ year old food processor.  I use the exact food processor my mom used to puree my baby food.  How cool is that?

But that’s not my only hand me down kitchen tool.  I also have:

a 30+ year old Foley Mill from my husband’s grandma

a 40+ year old hand mixer from my aunt

and some 20+ year old pots and pans from my dad.

All of these kitchen tools tell a story.  They are tools used to feed families for years (or at least symbolically).  They are a small part of the food history of our family.  And so, although our kitchen tools may not be brand new, they are mine, and most of them used to be someone else’s.  But they certainly all work.

 

For today, I am thankful for the ability to nurse my babies.  The last week has been tough with Clara.  She still isn’t one to “sleep through the night”, and she is nearing her first birthday very quickly.  She likes a midnight snack sometimes, or she gets hungry very early in the morning.  It has been difficult to get enough sleep, and so I had tricked myself into thinking she would sleep better if I wasn’t offering her breastmilk.

That may be true.

But.

I have to stop and remember that not all women can breastfeed their babies, especially for as long as I have.  And although it is taxing on my time, on my body, and on my emotions, nursing has been a wonderful experience for me with both girls.  It forms a bond that I don’t think anything else could foster between mother and child.  And so, even though I had tossed around the idea of weaning Clara early in the interest of sleep, I think I’ll hang in there just a little while longer.

After all, she and I are both reaping loads of benefits from this nursing relationship.