The Mumps, Symptoms of the mumps, what is the mumps
Adam Chapman

The Mumps Memoirs

And we’re back! 

I’m sorry for the two-week hiatus recently taken from The Bickering Press but I’m here to let you know what I’ve been up to for the past fortnight, spoiler, nothing pleasant.

Now if you saw any of the posts on social media you’ll be aware that I was ‘struck down’ (or something less dramatic) with the mumps. 

The mumps is a viral illness, that until sat in that doctor’s surgery on that surprisingly sunny Friday morning, I thought was extinct, reserved for characters on TV and people from the Victorian era. Don’t we have a vaccine for that? MMR, measles mumps rubella, the three horsemen of the slightly inconvenient illnesses.

Well, it turns out that vaccine is only 90% effective. In other words, it makes you 9 times less likely to catch the illness rather than eradicating it completely like we’ve done with many other ailments over the years. This is how the conversation went while getting my blood pressure and temperature taken. 

“Looks pretty mumpsy, you’ve got the mumps” 

“Oh, I thought I was vaccinated against that” 

“Yeah, well, you’ve just been very unlucky…here’s a leaflet” 

And so I was sent on my way, to self-quarantine myself for a minimum of five days. Luckily my flatmate already had a holiday booked so it made the self-containment a bit easier. 

So how did I catch the mumps?

The mumps, as previously mentioned, is a viral infection transmitted through droplets of saliva in our outwards breath or on surfaces and objects that come into contact with an infected person. You catch it the same way you would a cold or flu. The real kicker, some people can be carriers of the virus without showing symptoms, sleeper mump agents if you will. Furthermore, the mumps has an incubation period of around 14-25 days after becoming infected before starting to show symptoms so I have no idea where or how I became infected or ever who passed it onto me. 

But what are the symptoms of the mumps? 

The mumps causing swelling of the parotid glands, the glands around your jaw, just below your ears. You end up getting what is affectionately known as “hamster face”. It’s surprisingly quite comical, I found myself laughing every time I caught sight of my real life caricature looking face in the mirror. I looked like a cross between a garden gnome, an obese bloke and an egg. For comparison the picture below is me at the height of my mumps adventure and once the swelling had gone back down about a week and a half later.

I’ll be honest I was worried for a time that the swelling wouldn’t go down or that I’d be left with loose skin around my already unflattering jawline. With this kilogram, at least, of swelling around my face, my neck started to become sore carrying the extra weight. 

The mumps also just makes you feel like complete rubbish. You’re constantly exhausted but falling asleep means waking up an hour later soaked in fever sweat feeling a hell of a lot worse than before. You can’t eat not only due to the pain of the swelling when chewing, but because your stomach feels the size of a walnut. I think I managed to eat half a slice of bread in a 3 day period and still felt like I had stuffed my face at a multi-course banquet. A silver lining, I was looking to lose weight anyway and have now lost a solid 2 inches off my waistline. Screw all these fad diets, just get the mumps, it’s proven to work.

It wasn’t over there though, oh no, If you have the pleasure of contracting the mumps as a post-pubescent male, you run the risk of developing what is known as orchitis. This word has come to haunt me. Orchitis is the inflammation of the, how should I put this… private areas. Guess what, your boy added to his already super lucky fortnight by developing this after 4 days of being in and out of consciousness. I’ll put it bluntly, I woke up one morning to find one of my testicles the size of an orange. You can imagine how freaked out I became and thus I reached my lowest point. Unable to wear clothing on my lower half I sat there, defeated, swollen and on the verge of hallucinating. What had I become? A hilarious looking blob unable to move, eat or do anything.

It’s not just the physical affliction that sucks with the mumps. Mentally it’s a roller coaster. Obviously, you can’t see another human face to face due to the highly contagious nature of the illness. I couldn’t have my curtains open as I naked from the waist down and no one in Liverpool wants to see that during their morning commute. The worst thing though, there’s no treatment that really makes you feel at all better, so you’ve just got to wait it out, detached from the world. I didn’t see another human being for around a week. It’s probably the first time in my life that’s ever happened and it really does mess with your mind. Solitary confinement in prison, is now, in my mind, on par with physical torture. Humans are social creatures, as introvert as you may be, once the choice is taken away to actually see other people, it becomes psychologically unbearable. 

Luckily the mumps is normally in and out of your system within 14 days or so. It’s like an untimely visit from a relative you’re not too happy to see and the sense of relief once it’s gone is incredibly welcome. There’s normally no long-lasting effects and so it’s just a bit of blip on your life for a little bit and unlike that yearly visit from your Aunty Julie, once you’ve caught the mumps you’re very unlikely to have to go through it again.

I’m still not 100% but looking to get back to regular articles on The Bickering Press but it may take some easing into. Thank you if you’ve stuck about as I know a fortnight in internet terms is like a lifetime or two in the real world.