I learned some new words today:
The first two I learned because one side of Anthony's face was swollen and painful this morning, as if a balloon under his ear was slightly inflated. That's apparently a classic symptom of mumps, as the salivary glands enlarge (so I find out during this continuing-education class known as “parenthood”).
Anthony has had all of his US immunizations, which include MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) but apparently (according to our doctor here) that even those immunized can contract mumps over and over, if you seem prone to it. That doesn't seem too likely though, considering that the US Center for Disease Control notes that only 231 cases of mumps were reported in the entire United States during all of 2003.
Of course, one must consider that the mumps virus here in Japan is perhaps different than the one in America. Or, what is translated as “mumps” is not quite the same thing to begin with. In any case, what is translated as “mumps” is common in Japan. The family that just moved into the house next to our condo (whose windows face ours) stopped by in the morning to make formal greetings, and when I commented that Anthony's face seemed swollen, the wife (a mother of two) said “oh, it looks like mumps”. Her two kids had it last year. The doctor we saw later in the morning said that mumps is going around now.
I talked to my (newly pregnant) ER-nurse sister, who has never seen a case of mumps in her 15+-year professional life (but in the ER, would not likely see them anyway). Of course, it's hard to make any kind of diagnosis based on a concerned dad's description over the phone, but one thing that sprang to mind is that if he had an obstruction of the salivary gland, the swelling would become pronounced right after having something sour (e.g. a lemon-head candy). In adults, she's seen sudden swelling the size of an egg (“sudden” meaning within a few seconds).
I gave Anthony some ume (very tart plumb), and the swelling seemed to increase, but it was hard to tell, since it was already fairly swollen. Over the course of the day, the swelling seemed to abate until the evening when we put dinner in front of him, it swelled again and he cried from the pain. I did some Internet research (since, you know, if you read it on the Internet it must be fact) and it seems that such a reaction could be from any type of salivary-gland infection (viral, such as mumps, or bacterial), or from a simple kidney-stone-like blockage.
At this point we can't do much more than wait to see how it progresses. He had a slight fever, which also seems to have abated. Also, the skin behind the ear is red, which was the most interesting thing to the doctor (since such redness is not associated with mumps). Perhaps this indicates a bacterial infection?
The other two words I learned during Anthony's play. He was having cookie time with Mommy, and he was making shapes with his two cookies on the plate. One was a snowman, and after a bite, it in some way became a sparrow. Later, he was hopping around like a frog, but it turns out that it wasn't like a frog, but a grasshopper.