Chickenpox – The Finale

The chickenpox blisters have all dried up. Some of the scabs have even fallen off. There are three or four very visible scars on my face, mostly on the right cheek. The scabs came off prematurely while I was cleansing my face. I am not too bothered by it. I already have acne scars from my teenage years. A few more will not make it any worse.

The worst phase of the chickenpox infection was during the first few days when I had fever and lost my appetite. Wuan applied aleo vera gel on the lesions which were painful at times. That was refreshing although I had problems washing it off as it became slimy on contact with water. I took Panadols sparingly just to tide me through the feverish episodes. I took one dose of Loratadine which did not help in reducing the itch at all. It did take much to restrain myself from scratching the itch. I have gone through worse due to my renal failure.

For the past two weeks, Wuan has been buying coconut water for me to drink. It is believed that coconut water can reduce the heatiness in the body caused by the infection. If nothing else, it was a refreshing change from the plain water that I have been drinking. I have to stop taking it now that I have recovered. Coconut water is rich in potassium which is not good for my failing kidneys.

My food is even blander than usual. I have not had a taste of soya sauce since the infection. Soya sauce is believed to cause the scars to turn darker. In fact, I have not had a good meal since with all those taboos and whatnots except last Sunday when my resistance for good food was at it lowest. Out went all the chickenpox pantang-larang which saw the most filling meal I have had for two weeks at Italiannies in The Curve.

This was an infection that was waiting to happen for the past 43 years of my life, not to say that I was looking forward to it. Fortunately for me and everyone else, this only happens once in each of our lifetime. Now that it has come to pass, I can add another notch to the imaginary walking stick of my journey through life.

Look Ma, I Got Chickenpox!

Up to last Wednesday, I thought I would never get infected with chickenpox. When I was a kid, Mum would make me play with the other neighbourhood kids whenever any of them got it. That did not work. For over three decades, that was reenacted over and over with nephews and nieces without success. Mum did say that the older I get chickenpox, the more miserable I would be. That was why she was in a hurry to get me infected. I, on the other hand, was beginning to believe that I was immune to it after all those failed attempts.

The rest is history not! I did get chickenpox. I am not sure if kids get off easier but I did have a hard time the whole week since the pesky little blisters appeared. It is a little ironic that for all the years that Mum tried to get me infected, she did not live to see this moment. Mothers are supposed to be around to see their children get chickenpox so that they can fuss over us with all the supersitions and taboos.

I am slightly disappointed by this break in tradition but I still need to get this off my chest: Look Ma! I got chickenpox! Yay! Yes, there is a smug smile on my face despite the discomfort of the past week that is slowly being replaced by a sense of having truly grown up. Never mind I got chickenpox at a ripe age of 43. The sense of being like everyone else is worth whatever I went through. I am not that different after all.

Old-School Chinese Chickenpox Pantang-Larang

We Chinese have a way of making people who are unwell even more miserable. There are taboos for every of ailment. Chickenpox is no exception. There is this long list of food that I am told to avoid. No soya sauce because that will cause the scars to darken. No eggs because it will cause the sores to be pustulant. No chicken, fish, prawns, crabs and any other kind of seafood and these are considered toxins and may affect the health and healing when taken during the recuperation period. And then there is the no oily food for some reasons I cannot seem to recall now.

Mee sua soup with sliced pork and choy sum
Mee sua soup with sliced pork and choy sum.

That whittled down on my already restricted diet even more. So for the first few days, it was either porridge or mee sua (flour vermicelli) pork slices and choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage). Bland food like these are really hard to stomach after a few meals. What made it worse was the pungent smelling concoction of traditional Chinese medicine for chicken pox. Wuan bought it from the Chinese medical hall. It had to be boiled for two hours in two glasses of water. This was supposed to be cooling and hasten the blistering phase. Luckily I had to drink twice over a period of two days only. Now, the only cooling drink is refreshing coconut water which is like nectar to my lips compared to the concoctions from the Chinese medical hall.

Traditional Chinese medicine to cool down chickenpox infection
Traditional Chinese medicine to cool down chickenpox infection.
Photo by Wuan.

The fever persisted for three days which was brought down with Panadol. When the itch began, I took a dose of Loratadine. That did not help at all. So I was back to scratching around the lesions, careful not to burst them, which I failed occasionally. New lesions have stopped breaking out since yesterday. The ones on the face have started to scab up. Those on my shoulders, chest, back, abdomen, groin and legs are slowly drying up. The ones on the scrotum are the most painful one. There are even a few on the penis.

Chickenpox lesions on my hips
Chickenpox lesions on my hips. Taken on January 12, 2009.
Photo by Wuan.

By the end of the week, I will be on the rebound from this horrible chickenpox infection. However, I am not out of the woods yet. I have to continue on a restricted diet devoid of food with toxins, poultry and seafood for 100 days. These include dishes that contain belacan (dried shrimp paste) and heh ko (shrimp paste). These two are very potent toxins that is believed to cause the chickenpox lesions in the internal organs to turn nasty. So no perut ikan, chee cheong fun, laksa and rojak for a full three months. There is a longer list of taboos like avoiding exposure to dew, rain and breeze, and staying away from beans and foodstuff made with it. This is what I heard lar. I may not be that disciplined to follow them all. But then again, is it not better to be safe than sorry? But this is the Chinese New Year season!!!