The Sickness

It all started with four little words: “Mommy, my tummy hurts!”

Warning, this post is not for the weak-stomached.

“Ok, honey, get in the car and rest and we’ll go home for nap time.”

“But my tummy hurts!”  Adrian cried again.

“I know, honey.  We’re going home for nap time!  Get in the car and rest and close your eyes.”

We were on the highway ten minutes from home when I heard it again, shrieked:

“Mommy, my tummy hurts!  It hurts, it hurts, it hu…..baaaaaargh…..aaaaaaargh…..aaaaaaaargh……” I looked in my rearview mirror to see Adrian…well…you know…the french fries he ate for lunch were flowing the wrong direction all over Adrian and the back of the van.  Not what you like to see/smell while you’re driving down the highway. But what’s a Mommy to do?  Keep on rollin’ and deal with it when you get home.

While Adrian cried in the back, I strategized.  In 10 minutes, I will be arriving at an empty house with two babies, a puke covered toddler, and a puke-filled back seat.  They did NOT prepare me for this in college.  Ok, I’ll leave the babies in their carseats in the living room, take Adrian in for a bath, and forget the van.  Eric can clean the van when he gets home.  We’re gonna have to triage here: people before things, puky people before not puky people.

Thankfully, my dad was already planning on coming over, so I called him and told him we had a Code Vomit situation–come over immediately!  I climbed in the back to get Adrian out…oh geez, no way to unbuckle him without getting messy….ew…ugh…ew…and took him into the garage.  He was covered, COVERED in…what were previously french fries and Caprisun.  I stripped him down naked (he even had it in his shoes!) and carried him upstairs to the bath.  I put the babies in the living room in their carseats.  Thankfully, my dad and Eric arrived fairly quickly to assist in baby care and van clean up.

Adrian was sick the rest of the day, but we hoped his bad tummy was just a combination of french fries and chlorine from our morning swim.

Until Wednesday afternoon when Will started puking….and that night when Reid started puking….and doing bad things out the other end…

And the school nurse called on Friday morning to report Stephen was in the office with a tummy ache…and he came home and started puking…

My wonderful father offered to spend the night and help me since the kids were sick and Eric was away teaching a special AP class in Grand Junction.  I called Eric to see how his drive was…ok, but he was in the hotel puking…

AND THEN THE MOST TERRIBLE THING HAPPENED.  You knew it would.  You knew this was coming!

My dad and I started puking.  We felt HORRIBLE, we felt AWFUL, we were experiencing TERRIBLE bodily functions, and we had to take care of 4 kids all the while.  My dad has officially earned The Father of the Year Award.  Stephen and Adrian (who were over the sickness by now) were banished to the basement and probably watched at least 7 hours of TV.  My dad and I alternately ailed on the couch and changed diarrhea diapers.  Yes, yes.  Pity us.  It was bad.

But we are all feeling better now, thank you very much, and are no longer a danger to society!


About jennyvogan

Author of "Stephen's Mom," a blog documenting the funny, crazy life of raising four boys while keeping my day job as an ultrasound tech.
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2 Responses to The Sickness

  1. Sam says:

    Jenny, that sounds terrible! I had the same symptoms two weeks ago, and I spent a day feeling absolutely miserable, so I admire you for enduring it while taking care of four boys. The virus is going around Gainesville too, and here’s some info I sent to our small group.

    It’s likely a virus called Norovirus (aka Norwalk, or cruise-ship virus). It is a small and extremely infectious virus (the median dose needed to cause an infection in studies is only 18 virus particles, which is pretty tiny). Typically there is a 1-2 day incubation period as the virus multiplies in the small intestine, followed by 24-48 hours of profuse vomiting and watery diarrhea, along with nausea and abdominal pain. Patients have also reported fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, dizziness, and general malaise. The symptoms resolve quickly, and most people feel essentially normal within 72 hours of symptom onset.

    The infection is rarely dangerous. Hospitalization is mainly necessary in the very young, very old, or those with compromised immune systems. There are no antiviral medications for it, so treatment is mainly to support the body while it fights off the infection. Because of the vomiting and diarrhea, staying hydrated is most important (e.g. drink Gatoraid or Pedialyte), and medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen can help with fevers, muscle/joint pains, and the general feeling of malaise.

    The virus is spread by direct contact with secretions from infected individuals (vomitus and fecal matter), through droplets that have been aerosolized, hand-to-hand transmission, and transmission on inanimate objects like doorknobs and countertops. The virus must get into your GI tract to cause an infection, so merely touching it isn’t enough. Basically, if you vomit in the toilet, tiny droplets can splash on the counter, floor, shower, and on your own hands, and if you touch something and someone gets those droplets on his/her hands and into his/her mouth, he/she can get sick. Individuals can beginning shedding the virus even BEFORE symptoms appear, and they continue to shed virus after the symptoms have resolved. A person sheds virus in his/her stool till at LEAST 3-4 days after the onset of symptoms (and can be longer, up to 2-3 weeks), which for most people means they continue to shed 1-2 days AFTER they feel well again. At peak while vomiting, the content of virus shed typically measures in the billions of viral particles.

    Individuals who have been infected quickly develop immunity to the virus for a period of about 6 months. However, the immunity wanes, and studies have demonstrated essentially no circulating antibodies to the virus after a 2 year period, so if you got sick this year, you can get it next year too. Fun!

    Alcohol-based hand cleaners are not effective at preventing Norovirus from spreading, so hand washing should be with good old soap and water. Make sure to rub hands together vigorously (20 seconds) so that the virus is removed from the skin and can be washed away. Also, Norovirus is NOT inactivated by Lysol. Only cleaners with bleach or hydrogen peroxide can destroy it. The virus can remain infectious on a countertop for days or even weeks after being placed there, so make sure to clean thoroughly.

    • jennyvogan says:

      Ugh, sorry you got it, too! That sounds like it alright, one of the docs at my office thought it was norovirus. At least it’s a short lived thing. Sounds like we did all the right things…I was pumping the babies with pedialite! I did clean everything with Clorox, so hopefully I got it. Definitely makes me glad we live in a first-world country with sanitation. I remember thinking, I see how babies could die from this if you didn’t have pedialite and couldn’t clean well.

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