ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Adult-Onset Measles: My Five Days In Intensive Care

Updated on March 30, 2015
GarnetBird profile image

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

Adult measles as it usually presents in widespread rash.
Adult measles as it usually presents in widespread rash.

Did You Have Measles As a Child?

I was told I was a blessed child, with no exposure to measles, mumps or chicken pox. I continually had severe colds and the usual influenzas. When I accepted a temporary hospital admitting position in a large County Facility, I never dreamed my life would be in danger from exposure to a virus I should have had as a child.

The job was tough and traumatic; I worked as a ward secretary in Labor and Delivery, often seeing things no lay person would choose to expose themselves to. I saw babies born dead, little teens from Mexico having babies (sometimes for the second time), and numerous episodes of pain, vomiting and other unpleasant side effects of the epidurals. I hung in there until the day a woman with advanced measles was admitted without the usual precautions. I was exposed to her for at least twenty minutes as I took her vital information and clipped it to the appropriate chart. I was later told we both should have been masked and the patient put in isolation.

Weeks passed. I suddenly noticed I felt weak and chilled, as though all the blood had been taken suddenly from my body. I also looked rather pale and clammy. I have a history of severe blood sugar drops, so I brushed it off. Then the flulike symptoms came: fever, headache and general misery. I went to an emergency room, feeling a vague sense of doom. The Doctor labeled it as a virus and told me to go home and rest.

Days passed, and I woke up violently ill, vomiting dark red blood into the toilet. I was alone and had to call a cab to get to the Kaiser emergency room. The admitting staff took my vitals and immediately hooked me up to a cardiac monitor, breathing mask and an I.V. to restore my chemical balance. They were surprised, it seemed, by my symptoms. Someone asked if I could have toxic shock or sepsis. No one present had seen a case of adult measles and everyone seemed rather puzzled. Purple welts appeared on my face, as though I had survived a house fire.

I was isolated in a very nice, private room and hooked up to every imaginable device. My heart was racing and weak and I looked like death. I weakly whispered that I had been exposed to many patients at the County Hospital, and that I was afraid I had measles, as I had heard it was invading Riverside County.

The Center for Disease Control was called in, and rounds of interviews had begun. The welts had spread and even invaded my internal pelvic area. When I received a diagnosis of measles, a nurse calmly mentioned that I was lucky, as the patient who had been hospitalized in my exact room recently died from complications. This was not very cheering, but I said nothing.

Four more days passed as the antibiotic drip in my arms did its work, and slowly I started to keep food down and recover. I still looked like a white mask had been painted over my face, but some of the angry welts were slowly dissipating. (Photos of my condition were taken for the Kaiser Medical Library to educate doctors as to the appearance of adult onset measles.)

Recovery from a medical trauma can be slow, and I was on disability for several months, recuperating on my best friends couch. I later was told to due the hospital for negligence, but no attorney I contacted was excited about taking on the County Hospital. I instead received a small settlement from an insurance claim, in the amount of 2,000.

The best was yet to come. Since my county insurance had actually expired at the time of my hospitalization, the bill was almost 15,000. Garnishments forced me to later declare bankruptcy which would make my credit rating a train wreck, to say the least. My advice to adults who have not had measles? Get vaccinated.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      15 months ago from North Texas

      I caught everything as a child. Whooping cough, chicken pox, mumps, pneumonia, scarlet fever, and I almost died at age 6/7 from the Asiatic flu. I was out of school with it for at least 2 months, maybe 3. I had every kind of measles known to humans and there is more than one kind. As a result I am immune to them and that's the benefit of all the discomfort I endured as a child and preteen.

      I fear my daughter may not fare as well since she is in that generation where inoculation is available for what used to be every childhood disease. People who never had the various diseases because they received prevention shots need to get booster shots from time to time for the rest of their lives.

      I'm sorry you had to suffer measles as an adult. It's no fun as a kid, but I'm told far worse when adults contract it. You are most probably lucky to have survived it -- and with your hearing and sight in tact.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      2 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank was a mess!

    • moonlake profile image


      2 years ago from America

      I'm surprised a doctor did not check to see if you had measles sometime in your life. I was checked with my third baby and I had measles at one time.

      Glad you're ok now sorry about your big hospital bill.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      3 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you! This happened years ago, but my credit is still affected by it. Things are better,and I sell books online for Amazon. I hope this hub will warn others.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      So sorry that this caused you not only the physical pain but also all of the personal heartache. Glad you have your life.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      3 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you so much!! Yes, things are better now!

    • D.A.L. profile image


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Gloria,

      What a traumatic experience you have had. Hope your health and your bank balance are both showing a big improvement. This is a brave piece of writing and serves as a warning to others who have not had this awful disease in childhood. Good advise to recommend vaccination. Voted up useful and interesting.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      Oh my goodness-what a horrible experience all the way around. You are so blessed to be here after getting measles as an adult. I have heard that getting any of those childhood illnesses as an adult, can be a very dangerous thing. Growing up with five siblings, I got all of the childhood illnesses. I hope your financial situation was eventually cleared up too. Thanks for sharing your scary story and educating people on getting vaccinated.

    • diogenes profile image


      3 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi. Interesting. I got over a bad bout of shingles last year (the chicken pox adult onset virus). Awful disease, spots, itching, joint pain...lasts for weeks. I think I wrote a hub about it, can't remember!

      Glad you recovered OK



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)