“It all started with a fever one morning. I felt like I was coming down with the flu but I went to work nonetheless. Despite popping half a dozen Panadols, I felt progressively worse through the day, so, that evening, I left the office early to see a GP. My fever was at 39.2 deg C!
“The doctor said that I might have caught a virus from my 22-month-old daughter, Natalie, who had been sick that week. I got two days’ MC and I went back home to rest. I haven’t felt this unwell in a long time, I thought, as I lay shivering in bed.
“My wife, Carol, took my temperature when she got home that night, and it had spiked to 39.8 deg C, despite having popped eight Panadols that day. I shivered uncontrollably and we started to get a little worried, and decided I should go to the hospital that night.
“The doctor at the hospital saw that my tonsils were inflamed and discovered two ulcers in my throat, so I was diagnosed with tonsillitis and was prescribed antibiotics and a jab for the fever. I was also put on a drip as I was dehydrated. That night, I slept fitfully but in the morning, my fever had gone down and I was expected to go home soon.
“I couldn’t eat and the softest foods felt like fire down my throat. Fruit juices and soy milk made me wince in agony.”
“Unfortunately, that day passed in a blur — I couldn’t eat and the softest foods felt like fire down my throat. Fruit juices and soy milk made me wince in agony. A steady stream of nurses came in and out of my room to take my vital signs and give me medication.
“That day, I noticed a little bump on my right index finger. It was only a scratch, I thought.”
Read to find out how Marcel realised he had HFMD…
“The following day, while my fever was gone and my throat was better, eating was still painful. In the evening, I saw another spot on my middle finger and an alarm bell went off in my head. I informed the doctor that by the fourth day since I started having the fever, there were more spots on my right hand and a few on my left.
“An infectious disease expert came to take a look and said that it was, indeed, the dreaded HFMD.
“It seemed as if the world closed on me at that point. All the nurses who saw me started wearing masks and gloves. We decided that Carol shouldn’t visit me so often for Natalie’s sake. I began to feel like an outcast.
“It seemed as if the world closed on me at that point.”
“Some of the spots were red and angry, others were like blisters. They made simple tasks like opening a bottle of mineral water extremely painful. There were spot on the soles of my feet and these made walking hurt. The doctors advised me to stay on in the hospital till they were certain that I was no longer contagious, to lessen the risk of me passing it on to Natalie.
“While at the hospital, I communicated with my family over FaceTime. It felt like I was on a surreal business trip where I was confined to my ‘hotel’ room for an indeterminable period. It’s depressing having the same four walls stare back at you for days.
“I missed home tremendously — I found comfort in reading, writing and trying to get some work done. I was also concerned over the strain that my wife was under, and kept hoping that she didn’t end up getting HFMD, too.”
What was happening at home and at work? Click ahead.
“Meanwhile at my workplace, I found out that my colleagues had disinfected my desk, and the desks around mine. I had just started on a new job and was just learning the ropes — it was the worst way to begin! I’m also a singer-songwriter, and because of this I had to cancel two performances, which was a bummer.
“Back home, Carol bought Dettol, Clorox and disinfectant wipes. She sanitised each and every one of Natalie’s toys, as well as all the surfaces I might have touched. All the soiled clothes were washed with a disinfectant and the beds stripped and cleaned. Our weekly cleaning lady came in for an extra day of major cleaning, and Carol even concocted a natural cleaning mix of vinegar, lemon peel and rosemary, to avoid using too many chemicals.
“Although HFMD affects mostly kids, it can hit adults whose immunity is weak.”
“Ironically, there had been a HFMD outbreak at Natalie’s school a week before and I had actually mentally been prepared for Natalie to catch it. As fate would have it, Big Daddy was the first to get it.
“I’ve decided to start paying attention to my own health and immunity, because although HFMD affects mostly kids, it can hit adults whose immunity is weak. I’ve learnt the importance of vitamin D for boosting one’s immunity — blood tests had revealed that my levels were low. I’m taking supplements now and will make an effort to get more sunshine in my life!”
Marcel Lee Pereira, 35, a consultant, is dad to Natalie, 2.