I don't know what in the world made me think of it today, but when I was in eighth grade I had the mumps. It spread like wildfire through my class that year so I wasn't the only one to suffer. But, oh my, suffer I did.
Mumps is a viral disease and is extremely contagious. The virus is easily spread via respiratory secretions (saliva). Coughing or sneezing, touching one's nose or mouth, eating or drinking from the same receptacles or kissing can spread the virus. In my eighth grade class of teeny-boppers, of course there was a lot of kidding, teasing, and giggling going on about the "kissing."
It's no wonder so many of us were out of school with the mumps. A person who contracts the virus is contagious for six days before symptoms start to show and nine days after they start.
What are the symptoms? Swelling of the salivary glands on one or both sides of the face giving a "hamster-like" look to anyone unlucky enough to contract the disease.
I got them on both sides of my face. I can still remember how miserable I was. My face was swollen to a gargantuan size, and I was nearly unrecognizable. The swelling was accompanied by pain which increased when I tried to eat or drink. Lying on my back caused the swelling to feel as if my ears were being ripped off. Sitting or standing caused gravity to make my "pouches" feel as if they had ten pound weights in them. I couldn't lie on either side because anything touching the glands was painful.
The physical pain added to the severe angst of missing out on two whole weeks of school (my social life!) made me one very unhappy camper.
My mom and dad both worked during the day so my grandma was in charge of my care. I spent days slumped on the couch feeling so weak all I could do was moan and groan. I can remember watching a lot of Grandma's daily TV programs through my bleary eyes. (I may never be able to forget "Queen for a Day" where the woman with the biggest, sorriest sob story had a wish granted.) Grandma made me gargle with warm salt water three times a day which did not feel good and take aspirin for the pain which always got stuck in my throat because it was hard for me to swallow.
She did her best to minimize the pain of the weight of my swollen glands by putting a folded white tea towel under my chin, up along each side of my face and tied on top of my head. I then looked like a hamster with rabbit ears. I vaguely recall seeing a picture someone took of me in that sorry state. It would be a great addition to this post to have it to share, but I have no idea what happened to it.
Does anyone get the mumps anymore? It certainly is rare that you hear of it these days.
Good golly, isn't it weird when such an old but vivid memory like this one pops into your head? I'm sure there are thousands of memories from my growing up years that are gone forever, but some remain in the deep, dark recesses of my mind to surface at odd times like this one did today.
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