What We Did Over Thanksgiving Break … or, The Great Vomitfest of 2012


For the third year running, the kids had the entire week off from school for Thanksgiving.  We spent almost the entire week in a sea of puke.  Yes, the stomach flu that is going around has hit our house hard.  (Interestingly, the “stomach flu” is actually a misnomer, as it is not a flu at all, but rather gastroenteritis.)

It all started two weeks ago when Lilah vomited all over her bed in the middle of the night (isn’t that the best, when kids do that?).  She had eaten a whole lotta cantaloupe and also a filched chocolate bar from the Halloween stash, so you can imagine what her bed looked like.  In any case, I wrote the episode off as probably cantaloupe that was a smidge beyond its prime.

Then last weekend, Saturday night, Daisy began vomiting (thankfully, she didn’t hurl in her bed – a top bunk, which would have been all the more a bummer – but all over her bedroom floor, including a throw rug).  She vomited repeatedly for several hours, and then was in bed, weak and head-achey for a full day.

Sunday night, Joey got it.  He puked in his bed.  And all over the floor in his room.  The vomiting went on for several hours, just like Daisy, and he was in bed with a terrible headache for a day and a half after the vomiting stopped.

Late Monday morning, Annabelle began throwing up.  She was very matter-of-fact about it.  “Mommy, I’m going to throw up,” she told me.  Then she calmly walked herself to the bathroom and hurled in the toilet, thank goodness.  She’s the only one of the kids who made it into the toilet every time.  After the first time she puked, she complained that she was hungry!  Then she cried because I wouldn’t let her eat!  Then she puked again.  And again.  Just like the others, that went on for several hours and then she was in bed with a headache for a day.

Tuesday night, I was awakened by Finn screaming.  I went into his room, and sure enough, he had barfed all over his bed.  Now, with the other kids, once they started throwing up, I put them to bed with a bucket or empty trash can next to them for emergencies.  Can’t be done with Finn.  He doesn’t understand.  If he’s going to hurl, he’s going to hurl without reservation wherever he is.  So I changed his bedding and his jammies and put him back to bed, knowing full well that this was going to go on for several hours.  Sure enough, he threw up eight times before he was done, and I cleaned him up and changed him every time, and washed my hands until they were raw.  I gave up on bedding after the second time he threw up and just started putting towels down.  After a few hours, he was done throwing up and was lethargic for another two days.

As one kid after another was picked off by this bug, I started thinking that Lilah had actually been the first to get it when she threw up all that cantaloupe and chocolate a couple weeks back.  But Friday night she started throwing up again, and I knew then that, no, that first round was just bad cantaloupe after all, and this was the stomach flu (or whatever you want to call it).  I think Lilah probably had it worse than anyone.  Instead of vomiting repeatedly for several hours, she vomited occasionally over a period of two days.  She spent the entire weekend in bed or lying on the couch with a trash can next to her and I don’t think she ate more than a couple of crackers all weekend.  She’s finally better today, but I kept her home from school just because she’s so weak from being so sick and not eating, and her poor little face just looks thin and wan.

Through all this, I decided that by sheer force of will – that, and those Super Mom Powers I’m supposed to be endowed with – that I was not going to get it.  After all, days and days went by with kid after kid puking and me cleaning it up and looking after them, and I felt fine.

Then, this past Saturday night, around midnight, it started.  I woke up with my stomach feeling not right, and I knew.  I threw up repeatedly for five solid hours, with such force that I felt like my organs were going to come up, until I was weak and completely depleted.  Michael started throwing up within a couple of hours of me.  Both of us stayed in bed for most of the day yesterday, and I don’t know about him, but I had a killer headache, just like the kids complained of.

I hate that feeling of an entire day slipping by, of nothing productive getting done.  I’m a task-oriented person, and never is that more evident than when I am forced to not do anything because of illness.  It unsettles me.

Today I feel better, but still weak.  I lost four pounds over 24 hours, though I’m sure it will be back within a few days.  I am really sore, as if I did some hardcore upper body workout, which I guess, if you think about it, is what repeated violent vomiting amounts to.

Kevin and Scarlett are the only ones to have escaped it so far.  I’m not thanking my lucky stars just yet, though, because it’s too soon – they could still both come down with it.  I especially worry about Scarlett.  I have visions of her becoming quickly dehydrated from repeated vomiting and having to go to the hospital and be hooked up to an IV.  Worst case scenario, I know, but probably not far-fetched.  Hopefully the antibodies she gets from nursing will serve her well.

As for Thanksgiving itself, it was kind of a bust.  It was the only day last week that nobody was actively sick, but it wasn’t a day that went especially well.  I decided it would be the perfect day to do our annual family photo for our holiday cards, and that’s always an ordeal.  Just getting everyone dressed and out the door took two hours.  And then, trying to get everyone to cooperate for the actual photos is a torment.  We came up with a great concept this year, but the actual photos are a bit of a disappointment.  One of them will have to do, though, because there’s no way I’m putting us through that torture again for another year.  That whole process took up way more time than we thought it would, so Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t on the table until hours later than we had hoped, and tempers were flaring before then, so . . . yeah.

‘Tis the season.

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5 Comments on “What We Did Over Thanksgiving Break … or, The Great Vomitfest of 2012”

  1. Heather
    November 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Pure misery! And I hate the ‘stomach flu’ misnomer. Everyone assumes they are getting a flu vaccine to keep them from vomiting when it’s to keep them from getting a nasty viral pneumonia. Hope you are all on the mend and that by some miracle, Scarlett (love that name!) and Kevin escape it. P.S. Nothing is worse than family pictures! Happy Holidays! xoxo

  2. Carolyn Gabriel
    November 27, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Finn will learn quickly enough to have his kleenex, waste basket, tissues, etc. with him Our Chris, 52, with DS, got sick in October….then it was pneumonia that lasted for weeks. lst trip to the doctor, no antibiotic. When his Dad took him to the pulmonologist (following x-ray and CT scan) the specialist wrote a note in his chart that he was at risk and should always be given antibiotic the lst time. Another abnormality showed up in the CT scan, an artery that goes down the right arm that would effect swallowing. As a baby, I gave him a spoonful of baby food, lifted his right arm and then he swallowed; learned to swallow like this. We don’t know how many little things like that he had to overcome…..still here at 52. He was home for weeks, taking his wastebasket, tissues, drink, etc. from his bedroom to the living room couch every day. Each week we would wish for him to be well. Week after week, he would say “I’m not well yet”.

    Chris works in a mail room at the ARC. They had a big Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday for clients, staff and parents. My daughter made a big dinner Thanksgiving. Another weak spot that Chris had, his gut, we got complacent about. So he has been actively sick since Friday. So we back to probiotics, no chocolate, coke, spices, etc. We will request a blood test to be sure he is not bleeding internally. That has happened too, 3 years ago. He had to stay over at the hospital and be transfused, his Dad stayed with him. The bleeding ulcers were stopped by two rounds of antibiotic. Before the bleeding, he lived in a group home. Now we want him to live at home.

    During this siege of gastroenteritis, Chris needed to have a colonoscopy. When we checked in the clerk asked “what are you here for?” His reply was “I’m here to die.” Pretty scary I guess. So we reassured him. We had just seen a movie “Talladega Nights” about NASCAR racing. Chris knows most of the drivers, we live in Daytona Beach. I played the role of the Frenchman threatening to kiss Ricky Bobby…that got him laughing. They let me go into the procedure room with him until time to go under. I hope and pray to God that his blood test is good and we don’t have to go through that again.

    A friend did pass away and we had to look after her sick dog. When he could no longer eat, we did have him put to sleep. Maybe that is where Chris got the idea that it was his turn to die.

    Don’t underestimate the understanding of these so called limited children. I kept him in church service with me one Easter Sunday. We had moved and no one in the nursery knew him. He had new crayons and coloring book. I didn’t think he would understand the graphic sermon. By the time we got out of that Baptist church, he was scarred for life and scared of crucifixes for a long time. He recovered enough to attend Catholic school.

    I’m glad I only have one child with gastroenteritis. Lisa, I think of you and your family. Hope all are better. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

    Chris is going back to work tomorrow, limited diet. “Tis the season” fer sure!

  3. Isabella
    November 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Oh Lisa, I feel for you… I sincerely hope you are all feeling better by now.

  4. Jaida
    November 28, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    Oh lordy, we have been through this hell before as a family. If it helps set your mind at ease, Brighton got a stomach bug along with the rest of us when she was about five or six months old and she weathered it fine. Somehow a barfing baby is so much less gross than barfing kids too…

    Still, FINGERS CROSSED that you all are done with it. I have a permanent paranoia about stomach bugs now. We accidentally left one of the kids’ trick-or-treat buckets at our friends’ house and they came down with a bug two days later. They kindly returned the candy a week or so later and I had to put it straight in the trash, wrapped or not. Not taking any chances.

  5. Asha
    November 28, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    Oh my! Pukes are the worst! I hope baby girl and Kevin get spared!
    We have lived through one of those and all eleven of us got it within 24 hours. DH and I were the last to get it. I remember we all layed around the living room, buckets and barf bowls around us… That was when we got rid of our carpeting a few days later…
    I hope everyone feels better soon!
    Oh, and I bet the family pics are gorgeous!!!

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