Sitting in my physician’s office in pain, I tried not to well up with tears as he applied pressure to the swelling on my neck and jawline. He looked for blocked salivary ducts in my mouth but saw nothing. Then he had a peek at my teeth. And then, strangely, he asked if I had a child.
"Has he been vaccinated?"
Yes. Yes, of course. (I’m freaking out a little now.)
"I think you have mumps. You probably picked it up at the playground or daycare centre."
I’ve probably never been so flabbergasted in all my life. Mumps? For real? I was vaccinated! I began countering this healthcare professional’s [very] educated diagnosis. And then it hit me: Had I infected anyone else? Was my kid at risk?
Because there’s a vaccine to prevent mumps (commonly referred to as MMR since it protects against measles, mumps and rubella) and because I know I was vaccinated, I soared through life with a “Can’t catch me!” attitude. What I learned that day in my physician’s office was that the MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps, and that my swollen face would have been much, much worse had I not received that vaccination as a child.
In the three days leading up to my decision to visit the doctor, I had felt run-down: tired and achy, a low-grade fever that was manageable with Tylenol (acetaminophen). Despite my colleagues saying I looked fine, I was sure my face looked a bit puffy, especially on the right side. Day by day, it got worse until finally I was unable to chew. What had been a little soreness and puffiness turned into feeling like I had a rock in my jaw and my jawline and neck were visibly swollen. The pain woke me through the night on the third day, and kept me awake for hours. Ibuprofen and ice were no longer cutting it so I decided to drop the stubborn act and see my physician.
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection, which has an incubation period of 14-18 days from exposure to onset of symptoms (which made it difficult to pinpoint exactly who I’d been in contact with to have passed that treasure on). The initial symptoms are nonspecific: low-grade fever, feeling poorly, headache, muscle aches and a loss of appetite. It’s easy to think you’re just coming down with a cold or simply run-down. It’s the swelling of the parotid gland around day three of the illness that defines mumps.
One of the serious complications of mumps is meningitis, so my physician put me on preventative antibiotics and suggested a cycle of ibuprofen along with warm and cold packs to treat the parotid swelling and tenderness. There’s no specific therapy, so you pretty much have to suffer it out. Luckily, I wasn’t ill for too long and within about two days I was able to chew my food again.
Mumps is spread through direct contact, like the kind I have most mornings and afternoons with the children my son Finley attends school and daycare with. As an overgrown kid myself, I tend to get down on the ground to play with them.
I never knew anyone who had mumps growing up because everyone I grew up with had received the MMR vaccine. The days before the swelling hit, I just felt crappy: sickly, tired and achy. Although the swelling wasn’t too bad, the pain was extraordinary in the left side of my jaw. The pain radiated into my ear and throat, as well as my neck muscles and until the swelling went down entirely, nothing would lessen my discomfort. Turning my head hurt, and chewing was out of the question. In summary: it sucked.
Get thee to a doctor, and quickly. Your physician can determine whether or not you have mumps and will suggest the best course of action. I elected to get another dose of MMR vaccine at the physician's suggestion, because I'll do just about whatever I can to avoid another experience like that. While you're swollen and potentially unable to eat, warm and cold compresses really do help and an over-the-counter painkiller will be your best friend. I recommend you also take this opportunity to eat ice cream at every meal, because obviously. And be well.
Few are the things I love more than popcorn. It’s one of those snacks that I can eat so many different ways that I’ve guaranteed I will never tire of it! Plus it’s easy to make, inexpensive and assuming you don’t cover it in loads of butter and salt, it’s actually not an unhealthy treat!
My love affair with honey-sriracha popcorn we born in early autumn. I was out for dinner with Erica, Maija and Laureen at one of my favourite restaurants in Halifax: Tempo Food + Drink (fun fact: it's actually where I first hung out with Erica, MONTHS after having joined YMC as The Frenzied Fashionista!) While we chatted and waited for our [delicious] appetizer and meals, our host brought us a little snack to hold us over: honey and sriracha popcorn. We were all intrigued by the idea, and it didn't take long for us to devour the bowl. Chatting makes you hungry.
But seriously: The perfect combination of sweet and spicy, it was absolutely delightful… and then I realized how easy it would be to recreate, tweak and make MINE. So I did it. And you can, too!
If popping your own popcorn, melt your oil and place popcorn kernels in machine or pan. Do what you do. (I use and love this popcorn maker!)
When butter and honey are melted, add sriracha and stir.
Drizzle butter mixture over popped popcorn.
*You can always add more sriracha for an added kick, or lessen it if you’re not a huge fan of spicy foods. Enjoy!
Ah, crying. It’s one of those things that can sneak up on you and make your perfect(ish) makeup go to shit in less time than it takes to say “Pass the tissues.” As a self-proclaimed bawl bag, I spend more time than I care to admit trying to unsmudge eyeliner that’s halfway down my face.
Ideally, we would never lose our cool and cry in public but in reality things happen. Maybe you’re really stressed, you just got bad news or your coworker sent you a video about a dog that died and BAM tears. And then your face (and maybe neck and chest) turns red and blotchy and your nose starts to run and the next thing you know, your whole face is leaking.
When you cry, blood rushes into your nose and face. This blood dilates the blood vessels, and since the skin on your nose is quite thin the redness becomes evident. Your nose runs because some of those tears in your eyes actually leak into your nasal cavity through the nasolacrimal duct.
Your eyes get puffy because tears actually contain sodium, which irritates the skin below your eye and the skin in your eyelid because your eye skin is incredibly thin. Sodium also causes imbibition of water - making your eyes swell up.
If you feel like you’re going to cry, I suggest walking calmly to a quiet place (like a restroom stall). Don’t fight the tears: you’ll just make those weird gasping noises that make you sound like a car that won’t start. Take some deep breaths while you’re walking. Maybe avoid eye contact.
Now that you’re in the safety and solitude of the restroom stall, cry - but don’t forget to breathe, mmk? Holding your breath will make your face redder and you could also pass out which is bad. Also: the breathing is integral to the post-cry recovery since it keeps the redness down!
Also: don't look in the mirror. Looking in the mirror when you're crying makes you cry more. Trust me, I know things.
Once you’ve finished your sob-fest, take several deep breaths. Blow your nose. Blow it again. Blow it again if you have to. Clear that shiz outta your schnoz.
If you were wearing makeup, don’t rub your eyes. Instead, fold a tissue in half and gently dab below your lower eyelashes until all of the makeup is cleared away.
Now that your eyes are dry again, hold your RING finger under cold water for a few seconds, shake dry and hold the cold finger on the puffy area below your eye. Do this a couple of times. Why ring finger? You’ll likely be more gentle using your pinky or ring finger than your index or middle finger.
BONUS: Flip your head upside down and mess up your hair a little. It’ll fool people into thinking you’re disheveled because you’re a little windblown.
BONUS BONUS: Before you walk into the conference room, sneeze (real or otherwise). Everyone knows your eyes water and your nose can turn a little pink if you’ve got a touch of hay fever or a cold.