Holiday from Hell: Chicken Pox Strikes!

Well, we survived a 30-hour train journey across Europe with 3 sick children to return home from our holiday because we wouldn’t be allowed on a plane.  It was one hell of a vacation.  It started out relatively nice.  We rented a villa in southern Italy near Brindisi.  We survived the two flights we had to take to get there and settled in nicely to our villa and pool.  We even got a couple of days at the beach which was only 30 minutes away.  Then about half-way through the week I noticed some red marks on Ellie.  They looked just like bed bugs and I got really irritated with the owners.  Jack had some marks as well so I thought that their mattresses must be infested.  Will was fine.  We took out the two crib mattresses and lay them in the hot sun all day.  The next day, Ellie was so much worse.  She was covered in red blisters.  I was overwhelmed with rage, thinking that the bugs were just everywhere.  The owners came by to see the twins and when she saw Ellie, she asked if perhaps it might be chicken pox.  DUH!!  It never even occurred to me but that’s exactly what it was.  I guess I just didn’t imagine that chicken pox would show up on our vacation.  Just great!  The twins both had it (although Jack just mildly) and it looked like Will was starting to get some spots as well.  There was no way they were going to let us on a plane the way Ellie looked — she was covered with sores and looked like a leper.  The last two days of our week were basically shot — no sun, no pool, just hanging around in shade which the kids hated.

So we had to figure out how to get home.  We were desperate.  We did not want to stay there another week or more, especially given how remote our location was.We briefly thought about disguising Ellie and getting on the plane anyway but then our moral side got the better of us.  The other two options were driving or taking the train.  We were at the southern tip of Italy and had to make it across Europe to England.  Neither option was great but the train was definitely the better alternative.

We started with an overnight train from Brindisi to Milan.  It didn’t sound too bad at first.  We would get a sleeper car just for the 6 of us (my sister-in-law was with us, thank goodness!)  What we didn’t realize was that Ellie was at the height of her illness and had fever and itching that kept her awake all night.  She was miserable and so were we.

After Milan, we took a train to Basel, Switzerland.  That ride was lots of fun with the three kids whining away and us getting into a yelling match with an uppity English guy who told us that our children were misbehaved!  I couldn’t believe his gall!  From Basel we took a train to Paris and then at 9pm at night, more than 24 hours after we started, we caught our last train to London.  The journey was still not over because we needed to an hour long taxi home after that.  Finally, we walked in the door at midnight.  The relief I felt was overwhelming!

Later that week I was feeling quite good, thinking that we had overcome the chicken pox hurdle for all three children.  However, the gods were not finished with us yet.  A week later, Jack wakes up with a bunch of red spots and Will does as well a few days later.  It turns out that their ‘mild’ case of chicken pox was not enough to immunize them from getting it in full force.  How fun!  So, basically July has been dubbed “Chicken Pox Hell”!

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