Flashback: A Pox on Me

Prompt #13: “Do you remember having the chicken pox, mumps, or any other childhood diseases? Were you ever seriously ill as a child? How did your mother take care of you?”

We were vaccinated and managed to avoid measles, mumps, rubella. We also managed to escape chronic ear infections, that scourge of infancy.

What we were unable to avoid was chicken pox.

We got the pox.

And then we got it again.

And then again a third time.

I only vaguely remember Pox #1 and Pox #2. They were brief incidents with a few spots sprinkled about.

But Pox #3–oh that Pox #3.

Me with Pox #3

Me with Pox #3 (My third case, for my ninth birthday)

It was eighteen years ago. I was eight and we were experiencing an unseasonably warm March (perhaps a little like this March?) We kids wanted nothing more than to be outside after a winter of being cooped up, all six of us and Mom, in the house doing schoolwork.

But we weren’t allowed to go outside.

Sunlight was bad for kids who had chicken pox.

We couldn’t spend too much time in the sunlight.

We were, however, allowed to ride our bikes to our friends’ houses to explain to them why we wouldn’t be able to play. Then we had to go right back home.

Mom was busy nesting, finishing up Easter dresses for Anna and I (Easter came early that year) and making outfits to bring the new baby home from the hospital in. It had been ten years since she’d brought a baby home from the hospital–it definitely called for a new outfit.

We kids were a bit concerned when we learned that our having the chickenpox might mean bad news for the new baby. The new baby might not be able to fight off the chickenpox–and it could make her very ill.

We kids kept busy preparing a birthday party for me. My birthday was on the fourteenth of March, and our friends were going to be on Spring Break that week. We desperately wanted to have a party–and hoped that we would be scabbed over in time for our child-directed party to commence according to schedule.

Tim with Pox #3

Tim with Pox #3 (His first case, just shy of his second birthday)

Monday the fourteenth, we discovered (to our great joy) that the last of our spots had scabbed over. We were good to go. The party was good to go. The baby need only wait one week before she was good to come.

So we gathered our friends and had our party, playing games in our large backyard before enjoying some cake served from the back porch.

A week and a day later, our baby sister was born, safe from the chicken pox that had earlier ravaged our household.

None of us would get the chicken pox again. Not the ones of us who’d had it all three times. Not the ones who’d had it only twice or one time. Not the one of us who’d escaped it altogether.

That’s right.

Grace, without the Pox

Grace’s birthday present from all of us was immunity, apparently

Grace never developed the chicken pox.

After being exposed approximately every year after age four, Grace finally was vaccinated before starting high school at the public school.

Our best guess was that she somehow managed to develop immunity pre-birth or shortly thereafter, what with seven cases of chicken pox in the house a couple of weeks before her birth.

4 thoughts on “Flashback: A Pox on Me”

  1. I had my tonsils taken out at age 6 — that was fairly standard back then. Chicken pox is the only childhood disease I remember. I didn’t know one could get it multiple times! My older two boys had it but my youngest never got it. I would have preferred for him to get it the natural way, but when he hadn’t gotten them by his teens we went ahead and vaccinated.

    I was told that I had had the measles when I was little, but when I was pregnant with my first child and the dr.’s office did the lab work, it didn’t show I was immune. They couldn’t vaccinate while I was pregnant or nursing, so I was told to stay away from anyone who even looked like they had spots, and then was vaccinated some time later.

  2. We didn’t know we could get it multiple times either–until we got it multiple times. I guess we didn’t get it “hard enough” the first couple of times to develop immunity, or something. It was truly weird.


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