Monday, January 3, 2011

Stomach Flu on Holidays

Throwing up is a nightmare. We all know it. You're a perfectly normal person who all of a sudden starts to think that something may be wrong. You're not sure what it is, but something about your general constitution feels shaky, uneasy, out of whack. You may even mention to those around you that you're not feeling quite right, or you might be getting sick. Then, all of a sudden it happens. A sensation of opening malcontent,shared by your head, your stomach, and your throat.

You have seven seconds. What is your closest option? Is there even a bathroom on your floor? Do you need to rush outside? Hell, are you in the car? Too late. Your seven seconds are up. You perform a physical task that you never could do out of sheer will power and things that are inside of you are pushed back out the way they came in.

Those around you are disgusted. You feel shame. Regret. As you continue convulsing, you beg forgiveness of the forces--godlike, mathematical, or otherwise--that this never, ever happen again.

Worse yet, you ruined Thanksgiving or Christmas or even your own birthday.

This has been the state of affairs around my house lately. An anatomy of broken holidays, shattered by stomach bugs from unknown regions. We didn't know anyone who was throwing up, we weren't in a filthy Walmart playground, and yet there is someone upchucking away our happiness. For, if there is anything worse than you personally throwing up, it's seeing your live children do the same and watch them suffer through the stages of anticipation, effort, and at last regret.

Thanksgiving was ushered in at midnight in my house six weeks ago with a kid waking up, calling for help, and asking me "Why is there so much silk in [her]bed?" Hint: it wasn't silk.

Throughout the night, daughter number 2 threw up. A real trooper, she hit the vomit bucket or the toilet every time.

Then, when she stopped throwing up at 8am, daughter 3 started throwing.

Thanksgiving lay in ruins, but the bug wasn't through with us yet. Then entire 4-day weekend was possessed with vomiting kids or ailing adults. My sister, visiting from New York, should have stayed there where at least the stench of vomit isn't inside.

Christmas went by with an act of rare mercy. My wife usually at least has a head flu like there is no tomorrow. But we were all well, happy, and relatively well rested. Bravo, Fate, bravo.

But New Year day struck me with a stomach ailment that left me begging for a reason to be put down. The worst seemed over, come the second day of the year. But the third day of the year, my wife's birthday, has been a living hell since a few hours before it started.

Once again, Daughter 2 ushered in the era of pain and suffering. We returned from a day trip to Ann Arbor. In the yard, on the way to the house, she threw up on the grass. It lies there still, frozen solid. Daughter 1 picked up the ball two hours later, making a spot in the rug that I hope will come out some day. The two of them didn't sleep until after midnight and kept vomiting until 3am or so.

That's when daughter 3 tagged-in. I slept next to her bed, catching as much as I could with cloth diapers. She kept it up until 8am.

It is always a challenge to give my wife a proper birthday celebration. It falls near Christmas, so funds are low and gift ideas are used. It is also usually the day that I return to work or the kids to school.

This year was a real winner. Less than a minute after opening her rebate gifts, she was in the bathroom. She's asleep now, as is daughter 3. Daughters 1 and 2 are watching hour 5 of movies, trying to distract themselves from hunger and activity.

Blah. Blah, I tell you, blah.

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