Monday, February 12, 2007

But by 6:00pm or so...

Let's work backwards first. The cavalry arrived in the shape of Sue, my mother-in-law, who has been a paedatric nurse for over 35 years. Abby had called her in shortly after Matthew became ill at 7:30am. And being the clever type of man that I am, I didn't want her around.

That's not quite accurate. I was deeply grateful for having her around, but I didn't want her to be in danger of catching whatever Abby, Matthew and myself had been privleged to contract. I might have been sore from Saturday and Sunday's flu-ridden festivities, but I was sure that I had the wherewithal to drive, and felt guilty having a nice woman drive all the way to the Beach from North York to deliver...actually, you don't want to know the details of what was delivered. Most of it was there to boost electroytes of all involved, some was more along the sanitary lines.

Part of this was also selfish, I hate company when I'm sick. I always want to shut out the world and either endure or succumb to whatever it is (most often, a cold). People around you when you're sick are always offering stuff you may or may not want with the best of intentions when you're trying to sleep something off. And if you're my sister when she and I were kids, she'd throw something new into the mix.

"Michael...how do you feel?"
"Lousy.
"How do you feel now?"
"Still lousy."
"How about now?"
"Getting worse."
"Stop complaining!"
...and so on.

Abby, when awake and not wretching/twitching, reminded me that she was in no state to properly keep an eye on Matthew running around and occasionally issuing forth, well, issue. So it would be unwise for me to make the unwashed-unshaved-not-on-solids-for-48hrs run to the local IGA. Here, she had a point. Thus Sue was en route.

This proved for the best. She arrived with necessary supplies and her own towels, and began washing the light switches and door knobs. I thought that I was crazy when I did that the day before, with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol. I was also seconds away from taking the varnish off of some very old walls. The idea, at least, was proven sound by Sue's arrival. It's also incredibly reassuring for a paedatric nurse to look at your out-of-character limp and pale infant and say "He's fine, just an upset tummy." 99% of your common sense agreed with her in the first place. The remaining 1% is a parent and is naturally inclined to worry.

And this all ends well, unexpectedly. Matthew, while confused and obviously very tired, did not degrade into crying and screaming about this wonderful new sensation called 'nausea', and was 75% towards normal after a 3hr afternoon nap. The morning wasn't fun, but it could have been far, far worse. As of 6pm, he's fine. Fine. Not interested in food, but that'll change in the morning.
Abby has bounced back faster than I did (less time with the nastier symptoms), I don't know why I won this particular contest. Only thing I can think of (with my years of medical experience and my brief sojurn at the Mayo clinic with Army Surgeon Hawkeye Pierce and that nice Dr. House) was that I was dehydrated on Friday.

Stay with me, it's a brilliant theory.

Friday's breakfast - large coffee with milk, 7:45am.

Lunch - General Tso chicken w/steamed rice at a food-court Thai restaurant (the first suspect in the illness, cleared due to recent happenings), with one glass of water, 3:00pm. It had been a busy day.

Dinner- One bottle of Mill St. Ale, large plate of rigatoni with red-pepper and roasted garlic heavy red sauce, 9:00pm All quite tasty at the time. An hour later it hit me, and continued to do so until around 2pm Saturday.
I was low on fluids to start with, maybe it made the symptoms a little more vibrant and delightful? Or maybe...not.

Whatever. I joined the young Matthew for the 3hr nap today and woke up feeling like hell. But it was a different kind of hell than I went to sleep with, if that makes any sense. It was the low-level lousy of somebody who hasn't eaten or slept much in 48hrs, rather than the piquante something-in-my-body-trying-to-leave sensation.

As stated previously, this was a stomach flu, not Ebola. Not even Norwalk. And if you can hole up for 48hrs with water, pop or juice, soda crackers and readily available plumbing (a change of clothes would be good as well, especially with infants), it's a pain but not a trauma. Get a cruise ship with cramped quarters and accelerated virulence and plumbing that isn't accustomed to all of the passengers flushing at once, it might get unpleasant. It might at worst extend the 48hr bug to 72hrs, which opens other doors. Simple bug, but it trips you up.

So now, I have to eat. My throat hurts and it's not an appealing concept, but I need something. Sue brought cans of chicken broth, I used part of one to make a batch of sushi rice. Short grain rice? The short grain rice you make sushi with?

What are you supposed to call it?

Anyhow...I thought it would be chewy and with some extra minerals and some fat and enough like chicken that it seems like a meal. And it's good, given the circumstances. But for reasons I find hard to explain, the only actual food I'm craving is a bowl of chili and brown toast (2 slices, buttered) from a long shuttered restaurant in the Annex, a place called Foodworks gone so long that there's no trace or mention on the internet. Maybe I had a bowl of chili way back when after a bad few days. One can't have everything, though. Sushi rice in chicken broth will be just fine for now.

And, speaking too soon...

Abby settles down at around 3:45am. By 'settling down', I mean that she has taken longer than 25 minutes between leaps to the bathroom. This actually beat my record. I spent Friday night/Saturday morning sensibly (at least it felt so at the time) on my living room floor, basin at the ready. I was at the time under the impression that if I lay on the floor and held on tight enough, I might not fall. Off the floor. Did I mention that fluctuating electrolytes make you a bit zooey?

Still...it's the stomach flu. It's not Ebola.

By 4am or so I fall asleep, feeling healthier than the previous 24hrs and confident that I will tend to Abby gently the next day while keeping an eye (and very sanitized hands) on the toddly Matthew.

Until 7:30am. Matthew gets ill.

I'll spare the details.

Fortunately, nausea appears to be confusing, but not traumatizing to a 16 month old. He does have a lot of energy for 7:30am (he usually sleeps until around 9am), and is running around happily before making odd noises whereupon I grab him and take him to a secure area for such activities. We have lots of clean bedding and sleepers, all of which we will need. Eventually, he gets so dazed that I put him to bed and he stares wide-eyed and almost unblinking at the ceiling, arms above his head, obviously tired but too distracted or wired from the flu to quite sleep. I roll him to his side, and put a favourite, small stuffed lion in his hands. He watches it and moves his lips silently before the lids close slowly.

Then he gets sick again. Eyes still closed. I clean it up and let him sleep.

Okay. This is still lousy.

2007; A Sick Odyssey

1st week in February didn't work out so hot. Funeral on Tuesday. Nausea and vomiting Friday night. Continuing into Saturday. Replaced by, shall we say, gastrointestinal distress on Sunday. Mind and body appear to be improving slowly, until my wife is awoken with the same symptoms at around 2:05am Monday morning. Lesson learned- that nasty flu you keep hearing about is nasty. And virulent. If you feel like hell, go to bed. Sleep it off. Take clear liquids. Billy, don't be a hero. Don't give this to the first person who touches the same doorhandle as you did at Sobeys.

Ironically, I was supposed to go to a meeting about planning company-wide communications in the wake of a pandemic on Monday afternoon. I don't think a burst of stomach flu counts as a pandemic, but there's irony there. If you squint.

My son appears fine, being under 2yrs old he probably has the best immune system around these here parts. But if his grandparents offer to take him for a day or so I will accept the offer. Friday after 10pm is a blur until around 2pm Sunday, hopefully Abby has a milder dose. I'm hoping that the Gravol will keep her down, but the sounds eminating from the bedroom suggest activity. This could mean a) vomiting, b) the aformentioned gastrointestinal distress, c) the cold shakes (and they were a treat), or d) some new twist I didn't get in my dose. I'm putting 25 bucks on a migraine. Anybody taking those odds?

This is lousy. Repeat.

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