Yes, the chickenpox as a non sequitur

As Sandy (comment on last posting) has pointed out, this is not my first noteworthy experience with chickenpox. In 1978 as I was giving birth to my baby in Wiesbaden, Germany, my oldest son was on a school trip to Strasbourg, France breaking out in chickenpox. This was 2 days before Passover (the baby was born Wednesday evening and Friday evening was the first seder.)

The baby and I returned home on Friday morning to a home filled with 4 very excited children, one of whom was very pocked. That evening, as my husband conducted the community seder at the Hainerberg Chapel, I conducted a very fast seder for my oldest son, my youngest son (six years old) and my nursing baby.

About two to three weeks later, roughly corresponding to the end of a visit from my parents (not always a tension-free time), the other 3 older children all broke out in chickenpox. But wait, there’s more… The weather in Wiesbaden was, as usual, cold and rainy– so cold and rainy that for the entire duration of the children’s chickenpox (17 years– or so it felt) none of them were able to go outside to play or just get some fresh air. So there we sat, three itchy, bored children (whose only recreation was fighting with each other), my only colicky baby (and the only one I nursed), and one very tired mom (me.)

When finally I could take no more, I sent the children back to school. I got a call from the school nurse telling me that they were not yet ready to come back to school. I told her that if they couldn’t go back to school tomorrow, I would need someone from child protective services over to my house. She told me that tomorrow they would be ready.

The baby didn’t get chickenpox– or at least not that I ever could tell. However, when she was 3 she developed a case of shingles that was so unusual that she was photographed for a medical journal.

Herpes zoster, or shingles, is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an episode of chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant in the body. Herpes zoster occurs as a result of the virus re-emerging after many years.

The cause of the re-activation is usually unknown, but seems to be linked to aging, stress, or an impaired immune system. Often only one attack occurs, without recurrence.
Many years??? Since we know that her immune system was fine- was it caused by aging? stress? (“oh that too too tough sandbox toy; how much sand will fit in it?”)

and that is the whole story. I swear by Kinneret’s pocks.

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