Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ever Hear of Fifth Disease?

Well, neither had I. It's usually characterized by a mild rash and is often referred to as 'slapped-cheek' illness because of the obvious rosy appearance. I had no idea when Spencer was diagnosed the week before school let out how it would affect me, so I thought I would share. I'd never heard of this condition or it's real name...Parvovirus B19.

Here's the email I sent to my friends who knew I've been ill for weeks:

I'm using the cross posting method to let you all know what I found out at the doctors today. As most of you know, I've been ignoring the computer in lieu of sleeping and trying to feel better. After a visit to three doctors, the final one being an internist, I discovered that I not only had a severe urinary tract infection, I had contacted a virus usually associated with Dogs. Yep...I tested positive for Parvovirus B19.

I'd never heard of it before, but it's the human strain and quite contagious. I didn't put two and two together until I looked it up on the internet and discovered it's also called "Fifth's Disease," something Spencer was diagnosed with right before school let out for summer. You think the school would have issued a warning to the parents, but... in children it's mild...(also known as 'slapped-cheek' syndrome because of the red rash), but in adults, it takes on an entirely new meaning. Every joint in my body was swollen, stiff and ached. I itched all over but didn't have a rash. I could barely get up and down. Couldn't flex my fingers or toes, and my hips hurt like hell.

Thankfully, I'm feeling so much better today, and I think Nr. Nachnani tested me for about everything. I love the man and I'm so happy I found him because the second doctor just handed me a handful of anti-depressant samples and sent me on my way. I'm sending him a note with hopes he doesn't discount his other female patients the way I felt he discounted me.

Parvo B19 usually takes four-six weeks to run its course, and I'm about midway. Horrible fatigue and diving blood pressure are the other symptoms. I've never felt this bad before and it scared the crap out of me.

I also learned that my Vitamin D was at the bottom of the barrel, so I'm taking one pill (50,000 units) a week for eight weeks. My test also came back positive for Lupus, but the doctor believes it may be the result of the parvo virus. I hope so, because that's an autoimmune disease and horrible. My sister Gwenn has it. When she gets's with multiple problems. Another reason the school district should have sent home warnings when symptoms manifested themselves in the children. Where's the accountability?

I have to have this whole battery of tests again in two months when I'm free of the virus. Anyhow...I haven't totally fallen apart, just mostly.

Of course, all the way home, I muttered to myself about being the butt of a joke for having a disease associated with canines when everyone else is worried about Swine Flu. Of course my husband lived up to my expectations and proved my point when he asked if I'd been sniffing crotches. God, I hate him sometimes. :)


Debra Kayn said...

Oh gosh, I can so relate. I had this about 5 years ago when 2 of my kids had the rash. It was terrible. I woke up one morning barely able to move. You are right and your joints just feel weird, swollen, tight, weak. I could barely climb stairs, and bending over to pick something up wasn't happening. I felt fine, but it felt like my body suddenly turned 100 years old. It was scary. One day you are going to wake up and it will be gone, just like that!

*big hugs* and maybe now you will start feeling better each day.

Lillie Ammann said...

I've never heard of this but am glad you got a diagnosis. Praying for your speedy recovery!

Clare London said...

Good Lord, I've only herad of it in children. I'm really glad they've diagnosed you though. Now they can work toward getting you fit again.

Elena Dorothy Bowman said...


I've never heard of it before. Thankfully you have a Doctor that is a Doctor. Know you will feel better soon. Sending you (((((((hugs))))))!


Unknown said...

I'm sorry you had to go through the pain, but I'm happy to learn I'm not the only one who had a bout with Parvo B19. :) Every day is getting better and I'll be really glad when it's all over.


Unknown said...

To all you wonderful ladies,
thanks for taking time to stop by and wish me well. you're the best!

Caffey said...

Hi Ginger!
I had no idea how Fifth Disease came about! I remember my daughter having it and there wasn't much they could do but let the course run for it. I can't imagine tho all you've gone through with this! I heard its horrible for adults to get Chicken Pox too (which I never had and hopefully I am immune to!). Sending huge gentle hugs and hope you keep getting better. I think of you often!

Anonymous said...

hi Ginger i'm very youg u see im in 6th grade my name is danielle for a science project i have to look up about fifths disease/ slapped cheek syndrom i looked at your blog and im so sorry for u. but i hade a question would i be able to get it young?

Unknown said...

Yes, you could catch Fifth's Disease, but the good news is that it's very minor in younger people. Usually a rash on the cheeks and a light fever for a day or two. My grandson didn't have any symptoms except for the reddened cheeks which is why the school nurse sent him home. I, on the other hand, was sick for months and carried the antibody in my bloodstream. I hope you stay well...and also check out my YA book, Shortcomings. You might like it. If you're interested, I'd love to send you a free PDF copy so you can read and let me know if I captured a good YA story. You can email me at


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