A pox on this pox!

As I shared previously, I contracted chicken-pox during our epic trip to Japan. Not good. I went from having some minor flu-like symptoms to full-on body-covered-in-blisters chicken-pox overnight. And boy did I feel bad.

I never had chicken-pox as a child and had mentally filed it away as a minor annoyance. Some itchiness, some tiredness and then bouncing back to good health in a matter of days. For kids, maybe. But when it hits you as an adult, it’s quite a different story.

I’ve spent the past week veering between unable to sleep, then falling into deep sleep at a moment’s notice, running a high fever, having night sweats and aches in all my joints. Just like a bad dose of the flu.

But then there’s the blisters.

Mine came up overnight – I was woken up by the itchiness mid-night and could feel them on my scalp. Gross. At its worst, I had blisters going from the crown of my head all the way down to my toes. Nowhere on my body was spared. Nowhere.

I’ll let that sink in.

Each blister was itchy, swollen and very painful to touch. Like an epic collection of mosquito bites. Really, really unpleasant. I looked like plague victim. Or Baldrick, from Blackadder, as I wasn’t able to shave either. I spent the second half of our trip in bed, feeling very sorry for myself, mentally going over a list of the experiences I was missing out on.

Boo hoo, poor me! On reflection, I was lucky enough to be in Japan in the first place, had access to a doctor reasonably quickly, and was on anti-viral medication to speed up my recovery. I was luckier than most. Yes, it was bad timing to get so ill during the holiday that I’d been looking forward to so much. But it could have been a lot worse.

The anti-viral meds seem to have helped pretty quickly, at least on the outside. My blisters stopped spreading and began to (sorry for the detail) dry up and become a little less itchy. Inside, I was still wrecked, but my fever subsided. Getting home was the main thing on my mind (an unusual focus while I’m in Japan!) and so I needed to at least look well in order to get on my flight.

Reading online discussions about chicken-pox and travel, I was struck by the selfishness of parents who basically smuggled their sick kids onto flights, so they could get to Spain. And in doing so, spreading the illness to other kids, as well as adults with compromised immune systems. I was determined not to do the same and so we researched some ‘what if’ scenarios focused on staying in Japan for a few more days and flying home later.

As it turned out, my doctor gave me a letter giving me permission to fly as long as I was fever-free and my blisters had (sorry) scabbed over. By Wednesday, I was able to tick both of these boxes, even though I still felt like death inside. I left the confines of our hotel and we began our long journey home, via the very beautiful Haneda airport in Tokyo.

It’s an insight into how self-obsessed I am that my main concern was really how I looked to others. In Japan, people frequently wear surgical masks when out in public if they’re ill. I felt like I should be doing the same! I kept my cap on, pulled my collar up and avoided crowds as much as I could. I didn’t want to look like someone smuggling an illness, even though I wasn’t.

This was never truer than when I was on the plane home.

We were traveling First Class with BA, which previous experience had shown me was something to look forward to. It was supposed to have been a lovely end to our trip and something to enjoy. I’m sorry to say I really didn’t. I was uncomfortable, achey, embarrassed by the state of my face and scalp (I’m bald) and desperate to get home. Kudos to the cabin crew member looking after me for not even blinking when he saw me after I’d taken my cap off. I mean, I couldn’t leave it on for the entire 12 hours!

So, I didn’t really sleep, but instead watched a few more episodes of The Walking Dead, looked out the window and ate. As ever, the food was magnificent and the service was second to none. He did a great job looking after me all the way home. Yet, it seems like such a waste to have been in that cabin and so not enjoying it. I think that’s the very definition of a First World Problem. Sorry!

Since getting home on Wednesday, I’ve battled jet-lag and the remnants of chicken-pox. Unfortunately, I stepped back into the world of work yesterday by working from home and trying to catch up on what I’d missed. Too soon. By 5:30pm, I was shattered and fell asleep on the couch. I was woken up when @FrankDJS came home and I quickly scuttled off to bed with what felt like a superb hangover.

With about 10 hours of sleep behind me, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m still not 100% and have no intention of leaving the apartment today, but I’m a lot more optimistic that I’ll be back to full operating capacity by Monday morning. So, in short, chicken-pox as an adult is a bit of a nightmare. Actually, no. It’s an absolutely bastard. Mine appeared at the worst possible time and severely dented my enjoyment of our trip to Japan.

But all of this means that we’re already planning our return trip to Japan in 2016, which is a definite boost to my mood. 🙂 As is the improvement to my blisters and the absence of any scarring. I mean, I’m not male model material to begin with, but I also don’t want to end up looking like Freddy Krueger.

  1. I’m happy to hear you are indeed feeling better–speaking of masks, I’d previously mentioned travelling with viral pneumonia (due to ignorance and basically being so ill, I wasn’t human or capable of giving myself WATER) but I was with it enough to realise that I had Something and stayed HEAD under a blanket in flight. Granted part was as a shield from the world ‘for’ me (doesn’t work, does it) but absolutely knowing if this ‘fly’ was this bad, it had to be catching.

    I mean, STILL, looking back, in post-911 world, wtf were the airlines doing, letting me board, let alone not seeing if I was carrying some pandemic?

    I could have watched too much The Blacklist this Autumn…

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