Quarantine 2008 has ended

Fair warning: possibly graphic post and not for the squeamish.

So it all started Friday night. Wife and I had a long day (as usual) and had finally finished with dishes, laundry and the rest of the normal daily grind. The baby had been fussy most of the day and had spit up here and there. Mostly we thought it had been switching from formula to milk which can sometimes cause this type of thing. By the time kid #4 rolls around you tend to let these things slide. If this were #1 we'd have called in a medivac at the first sign of vomiting in a 1 year old. He finally calmed down and we got him off to sleep. We watched a bit of The Wire and retired (very) late. About 10 minutes later #2 wakes up crying complaining of a stomach ache. I ask if he has to go to the bathroom and he says no, it's not that. His stomach really hurts. OK, into my bed and I'll get the heating pad for a bit. We get him settled and he calms down. Knowing that he tends towards the dramatic, I start to think whatever it was (gas pain?) is gone and it's back to be with you. (At this point it's after midnight). So not 20 minutes later, he's crying again. I take him back into my room and he unloads. Not good. OK, I take the kid into the bathroom for continued gear reversal and wife gets the unfortunate job of tending to his dinner. (It's only fair, I cooked it the first time).

Finally get him settled down and we put him on the edge of the bed with a bucket and a heating pad on the belly. He's very upset (understandably) and sort of confused as he has not idea what's happening and keeps asking "when will it be done?"

Nineteen minutes later #1 comes out of his bedroom looking deathly pale and lurching like a zombie. This means he's either thrown up in his bed or has, in fact, become one of the living dead now reanimated to sate himself upon my flesh. He flops his upper body on the foot of my bed. I dash into his room and throw on the light. I didn't need the light really. The smell when I opened the door was enough. His younger brother started the trend of throwing up in my room and #1 feels obligated to join in. His eyes barely open he coughs once and my wife's eyes go big as dinner plates "the bathroom!" she shouts. I make it about halfway to the bathroom and he manages to barf on the carpet just before the door. Bravo. More carpet to be cleaned.

Not to be outdone, #2 has executed a perfect combat roll off the edge of my bed and landed squarely on all fours head over the aforementioned bucket and barfs like a frat book during hell week.

At this point, all I can think of is this:

We manage to get everyone cleaned up and #1 gets back to sleep and #2 stays in our bed b/c I didn't want to wake his brother so I just stripped his sheets and blankets and left it at that. (As far as I knew he hadn't thrown up in his bed but wasn't sure and wasn't putting him back to be not knowing).

The night continues with #2 getting sick every 30-60 minutes. Around 3:30, my stomach is starting to hurt and I feel queasy. I assume it's the ghastly smell. I must be in the office on Monday mornings so I drag myself out of bed and head out. I am in serious pain. My stomach is killing me. It's the kind of pain that makes you sweat and little beads form (and stay) on your upper lip and forehead. The best way to describe it is to imagine someone with a tight fist around your entrails and squeezing them very very tight.

I get to the office and my cell phone rings. Not good. My wife informs me that now all the kids are sick. Sick as in, simultaneously throwing up. Oh boy. I realize that I have to do what I have to do and get the hell back home ASAFP. In an hour and a half I'm done with the necessary stuff and I'm heading south fast. I do not feel well. Really bad. I'm burning up and my stomach hurts so much I can't stand up straight. Back in the car and down 95. Just before the Sandbox, I have to pull over. All of southbound 95 gets to watch me puke my guts out on a Monday morning. Morning everyone!

I get home and all seems to have calmed down. Baby is playing quietly with a noise making book. #1 is asleep on the floor (!). This is the kid with a sleeping disorder that requires medication to help him sleep and any kind of noise would ordinarily wake him. That he's sleeping in the middle of the living room does not bode well. The other two are on the couch tucked under a blanket watching something or other. My wife seems me and says "You are as white as a sheet. You didn't make it did you?" I shake my head and she ushers me off to bed (God I love this woman). It's now barely 10:00 AM and I hit the sheets and I'm out like a light. I sleep for I don't know how long. I awake only during fits of agony that would ordinarily cause me to give up state secrets.

Next thing I know, my wife is coming to check on me. It's now 4:30. I muster myself out of bed to help through the "Witching Hour" as we call the time between 3:00 and bed. I'm not entirely useless but close to it. With my minimal parenting skills on the front burner she strips all the beds and gets the steam cleaner (best damn thing I ever bought) and goes to town on the various afflicted areas. Nobody is hungry which makes dinner very simple. I think they had some Cheerios (dry, no milk) and some Saltines. Even in my near delirious state I could manage that order.

Eventually, it's bath and bed time. I cross my fingers and pray that this will be the end of it.

I call my sister the nurse. "How do I know if I have appendicitis?", I ask. "I was thinking the same thing." she responds. Not good.

"Your wife called earlier and I said that was possible."

She gives me a few things to try to see if I'm a candidate. I pass (or fail) the tests. It's probably not that. Mostly because the pain is on the wrong side.

"What if I have that condition where all your organs are backwards?"

She laughs, "I had one of those today on my clinical rounds."


"Yeah, her lungs were the right way but everything else was backwards."

I have no response for that and she says, "Well, it still could be your appendix because the pain can be deceptive. It may be on the right side but presenting on the left. You have a fever which is a symptom too. Basically, if your pain is gone very suddenly, go to the emergency room right away. That means your appendix burst and you're on your way to sepsis. If you don't get there fast enough, don't worry, you'll pass out and your wife will call an ambulance."

"You really have to work on your bedside manner."

I turn in around 7:30 and sleep fitfully. Either dead slumber or mortal agony, nothing in between.

My wife turns in around 10:00 and I don't even hear her. The next thing I know I hear wretching. I spring from the bed and look at the clock, 1:06 AM. I run to #1's room, sure it's him again. Throw open the door and he's dead asleep. I cock my head and realize...it's coming from my bathroom. That's right. My wife is now laid low. Lather, rinse and repeat until 7:00 AM when she collapses, exhausted into the bed. I get up with the kids. Fire up the laptop and let them know I'll be out of the day.

Now I get to deal with vomiting and crankiness solo. Fortunately, at some point during the night, my stomach pain has decreased to managable levels. It still hurts but not like having an a hammer pound my stomach.

The rest of the day continues much as the first except I'm awake and now my wife is sleeping it off.

Today, everyone seems to be better. We're all up and about and the appetites are returning but now my house looks like that scene in Johnny Dangerously when Johnny's Mom is taking in laundry from the entire neighborhood to make ends meet (Sorry, no embed, YouTube has for once failed me).


Sorry, but I had to laugh out loud reading this. I know it's not funny but.......

I'm glad it's over.
Paul Smith Jr. said…
No, it's funny, Shirley. As long as it's not happening to you, that is...
The Last Ephor said…
You know the difference between comedy and tragedy? Comedy is when you fall down a well. Tragedy is when I fall down a well.

No, it's OK to laugh now that it's over. This happened before in 2003 and that one was actually worse and we still laugh about it.
Anonymous said…
I had to change the sheets in my bed, just from reading your exploits...


PS: Any chance that the flu can be 'weaponized'? I am sure your readers could suggest a few targets.
mkfreeberg said…
That kind of woman gets whatever she wants for her birthday, and a second helping of whatever it is on Valentine's.

You're a lucky man.
The Last Ephor said…
Paul: I believe it has been weaponized and my kids' schools are used as testbeds. That's how this started.

Freeberg: Yes she does. Best of all, we don't celebrate Valentine's Day at all. She thinks it's a BS. Forced professions of love and romance are worth squat. God I love her.

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