There is a characteristic rash that sometimes accompanies strep throat. This appears as fine, red pimples all over the trunk (chest, abdomen and back) that feel rough, almost like sandpaper and may look like a sunburn. This rash, with strep throat, is called Scarlet Fever. Do not worry; this is not serious like it used to be. It is simply the body reacting to a toxin produced by the strep. It does not mean the infection is more serious than strep throat without a rash, and it goes away with treatment.
Once she started on antibiotics, she improved quickly, much to all of our relief. I am not quick to rush to antibiotics, and in fact this was her first round of them since her birth, but this time they were certainly in order. It took a while to get all of our energy back afterwards, though, and it took me a number of nights to start sleeping better again. Something that was a great comfort to me through the ordeal is my beloved book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm. Her chapter on "Fever" is excellent, and I frequently revisited it for the reminder that fever itself is not something to be afraid of, but is rather an indication of the body's response to infection. She writes:
The role of fever in illness is not completely understood, but prior to "modern medicine," traditional healers considered fever to be an innate fire motivated by the body's vital energy to heal the organism during illness or infection. During the past century, Western science has promoted the idea that fever itself is an illness and has sought to suppress it with aspirin, acetaminophen, and antibiotics.
Current research on the human immune system is revealing that fever is not a disease but an immune system enhancer and stimulant. Fevers are now known to cause the production and release of chemicals in our bodies that actually combat infections. Increased temperature may also create an environment inhospitable to the growth of pathogenic organism that in large population in the body can lead to severe consequences. What wise women, mothers, and traditional healers have known for ages, conventional medicine, still in its infancy, is just beginning to acknowledge. We may yet "discover" that it is the widespread suppression of the immune system that is contributing to the rise of autoimmune diseases.
Fever has another effect that often goes unnoticed. When children recover from a fever, they often demonstrate new skills and abilities. It is as if the heat of the fever served as a motivating developmental force. After a fever, a child frequently seems even stronger and healthier than before, as if impurities had been burned away, leaving the pure gold of the child's soul. While none of us wants our children to be ill, in our efforts to eradicate all illnesses with any means necessary, we have forgotten to see the subtler nature of the natural physical response.
That whole last paragraph is fascinating to me. I have observed this in Clara so many times. Perhaps it is just because I was looking for it, but as a baby, she frequently would run a fever, and then we would notice that she had surmounted some developmental hurdle in the days or weeks following. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I am glad to know that I do not need to be afraid of a fever in and of itself. I don't want to romanticize the body and it's natural systems. I know that there is a time for medical intervention, (Certainly, when I had a uterine infection and went into labor at 32 weeks, I was grateful for "Modern Medicine,") but there is so much wisdom to be learned from our bodies and their natural systems, and I want to observe, honor and support the wisdom inherent in my own body and that of my daughter.
What are some of your favorite sick-time rituals and healing agents?