When Disease Threatens Families
They told us the disease was spread by people coughing and sneezing. It also spreads by touching an object that has been contaminated and then touching your mouth or nose.
Because there was no vaccine, the medical staff told us to wash our hands frequently.
My parents were stunned to discover this new disease could affect my heart and kidneys.
I had the following symptoms:
- Sore throat, painful swallowing, minimal coughing
- Fever – typically over 39 °C (102.2 °F)
- Enlarged and reddened tonsils
- Enlarged and tender lymph nodes usually located on the front of the neck
- Red, painful, and swollen joints
- Small, painless bumps beneath the skin
- Chest pain
- Heart murmur
- Swollen tongue
I don’t remember if I presented with Kawasaki disease: Children with this disease also present a strawberry tongue and undergo a desquamative process on their palms and soles.
The doctor told my parents the disease could cause permanent damage to my heart, including damaged heart valves and heart failure.
Without hesitation, the Iowa doctor put me on high doses of antibiotics and sunlamp treatments.
I was six years old, living in southeastern Iowa.
My diagnosis was first Scarlet Fever and then the resulting Rheumatic Fever.
New Disease – Striking Similarities
The past three months have most certainly been a déjà vu experience. Watching the daily news broadcasts triggered the memories of one of the worst years of my life.
The disease prevented me from going to school. But, living across the street from the school, I could see all the other children enjoying their lives from the window of my living room.
I cried nearly every day. The only thing I looked forward to was my teacher bringing my assignments across the street each afternoon.
Little kids don’t understand quarantine, especially when they’re the ones under quarantine.
I didn’t understand the disease I contracted was why I couldn’t be with my friends.
Daily, I struggled to try to figure out what I’d done wrong. Why was I being punished?
Oh, I knew I was sick, but after a few weeks, I didn’t feel so ill that I needed to stay home.
The thing is, my doctor had also had Scarlet Fever and Rheumatic Fever. He didn’t want to take the risk I would have permanent heart damage as he did. (I was in my teens when his heart ultimately stopped beating.)
I find myself praying for solutions for my grandchildren and yours. I don’t want any child to go through what I did back then. The similarities are not only extraordinary, but they are also heartbreaking.
You have the right to do what you want, but please don’t risk my children and grandchildren.
We are a country that prides itself on being a leader in fighting not just disease, but every challenge we encounter.
Why does it feel like our most significant challenge is our inability to cooperate on anything right now? When did we lose sight of our compassion for others?
Today is our moment
We can show the world we provide solutions.
I have no intention of doing anything to jeopardize myself or anyone I know.
The science has been precise.
Covid19 is as nasty as what I experienced in the ’50s.
Let’s unite to win this one.
It’s what I expect from everyone I’ve placed my faith in over the years.