Male Vanity at its Best: Conquering a Five-Day Itch

Ever had a physical thing so powerful that you just can't reason your way around it? You know, when one part of your body just cries out to be touched and scratched and it doesn't matter what you scratch it with or how. Yes, that sensation whatever it is you're thinking of. What if you have it plus heat all over your body for days?

A confession is needed here. Every now and then I allow myself to harbor a suspicion that men are more apt to give in to physical needs. When men want touch, they touch (at least in my culture, men gets to do the first move). Now I'm not sure anymore. My eight-turning-nine-year-old boy, J, has proven otherwise. He showed me a powerful version of male vanity and self-control. (Forgive the initials but soon, in another post on paranoia, I will explain.)

(Warning: Two pictures of the blisters are available ahead)

Everybody expected J to be the next to catch the virus. Knowing that it is worse for adults and teenagers, I sort of wished it would get him after it attacked his younger brother, Y. You would think that after I made a horrible mistake (not to have my kids immunized for a nasty and highly contagious disease like chicken pox) I would be wiser this time. No, I was even more stupid.

When the first few rashes appeared on J's forehead, I decided not to go to the hospital. Again, I made another serious mistake of not getting a prescription for an antiviral drug within 24 hours of the appearance of rashes. (In another post, I wrote how the same drug shortened my recovery period and reduced symptom severity). When it was Y's turn to get the pox, we just let the virus run its course because the symptoms were mild. I assumed that J's symptoms would be mild too. He is only one year older. I was very wrong. 

chicken pox blisters, day 4, 7 years old, male (Y)
Over the weekend, rashes and blisters were already all over J's body. Last Monday, we went to my sons' pediatrician who observed that the viral infection did hit my boy really hard the way it hits older patients. She gave him an antiviral drug and anti-allergy syrup to help him deal with the symptoms but warned me it could be too late to expect less severe symptoms. 

chicken pox blisters, day 2, 8 years old, male (J)
You can't possibly imagine how I felt then because I was very unique in my stupidity. Blisters popped out from every square inch of J's skin like he was a bubble wrapper. To keep his eyes off his skin he resorted to covering himself with a blanket all the time and stayed in our air conditioned room for the longest time possible. He took all his meds except the bitter syrup for the itch (tastes like a bitter gourd or radish extract) and decided to just deal with the itch his way.

When I sternly warned him that he will have scars all over if he will scratch the blisters, I expected him to scratch anyway. Well, guess what, he used his stubborness against the anti-itch drug. When it itched, he patted and when it itched some more, he closed his eyes. I am asking him again now, he explains: "hindi ko fini-feel; nag-ko-concentrate ako" which is Tagalog-English for "I choose not to feel it. I concentrate." How about that! I thought I was a smart kid at 10 to imagine complex floor plans for my dream house. And when asked why he is not scratching, he says: "I don't want the bubbles to burst and then become ugly scars." Way to go! I have to say shame on my sisters, brothers and me who sobbed and scratched and fussed when we had chicken pox at ages 11 to 17. 

As if the itch was not enough, J had fevers (ranging from 100 to 104 degrees) around the clock so I had to sponge him often. Even if he had to be fed like a baby, he ate like an adult who wants so badly to get well. I can also say he's the sweetest-smelling pox-infected boy on the face of the earth with whom I spent lots of quality mother-and-firstborn bonding these past several days. Y understood, of course, and even played male nurse for his big bro to give me time to to get some shuteye. 

As I write, around 60 percent of J's blisters have dried up already and he's back to his naughty self (meaning, he competes with me again for more computer time and goes out to the store to flirt with my assistant). At long last, on the fourth of the five-day treatment, the antiviral drug has kicked in. 

Baby bro told me his brother's secret for success: "Mama, kuya J misses his handsome self" (we call older brothers "kuya"). Aha, gottcha! This is male vanity at its best--my son overcoming itch, heat and all to regain his true handsome self. In spite of having me as a mother who once in a while has problems with an "ugly" self-image, thank God, my son knows and loves himself better. 

Yeah, that is right. My sons, my teachers.


  1. Nice article here. And a very touching one.

    Indeed, I cannot believe your kid outsmarted you and how in the world did you forget to get them these shots when they were completing their list of shots?

    I am speechless and am very impressed with J. At his age, he should still be on the pre-ego stage. The Id stage where all he cares about is to scratch the itch. Now, it is showing how he has matured above his age and a proof of his intellect. As his mom, here is when you realize how your son is very connected with the reality and concerned of his future. I am very impressed.

    Well as for me, I cannot remember anymore if I was hit by this disease. Yes I do remember everyone and their episodes but I don't remember my own experience. I know I had that one blister and only one at that. Can adults still get a shot? I know this is quite funny to ask.

    Anyway, I will ask around.

    Again, an award should be given to J. He really did show what a responsible child he is.

  2. Yes, today is his birthday so I'm giving him special treatment. His blisters are still all over his body but he's okay now.