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.