It started on a Tuesday night with Doug saying something about a stomach ache. And since I can't give him the same advice that I give the kids, which is "maybe you should try to go poop," I'm left with a limited assortment of sympathetic phrases, none of which sound very sympathetic. The poor guy gets a lot of "Uh huh, that's too bad, what did you eat for lunch, oh really wow" and eventually "____" as I stare intently at my iPad while pretending not to hear his most recent sigh/groan.
Then I woke up in the middle of the night to discover I had the whole bed to myself. Probably not a good sign.
Then I woke up at 6:00 to discover that I still had the whole bed to myself. Definitely not a good sign.
I went downstairs to discover what appeared to be my husband sitting on the couch, except this version had taken on a slightly pale greenish tint and had definitely moved past the sigh/groan stage and proceeded to the puke my guts out stage. This was definitely, definitely not a good sign, because I HATE BARF!
While he slowly crept up the stairs, I ran into our bedroom and quickly grabbed whatever I thought I would need for the next 36 hours and then shut the door tight. I briefly considered running out and picking up a 3M window insulator kit and installing it on the outside of our bedroom door to really seal those germs in tight, but then decided not to because I couldn't figure out how I would I seal it to the carpet. And besides, I was busy. I had a bathroom to burn down and doorknobs to disinfect. There is no way in hell I am allowing a stomach bug to take this family hostage just in time for the weekend to arrive.
The poor guy suffered through the majority of the day with an "I just got off of a roller coaster after eating four cans of Dinty Moore stew and drinking a 2-liter bottle of Sunny D" feeling, even though I know for a fact I did not feed him Dinty Moore Stew (he had several reminders about what he did eat: pulled pork and some coleslaw) and I don't even buy Sunny D (anymore). I spent the day running kids around, bringing the dog to a vet appointment, and trying to mentally block the fact that there was someone in my house that felt like, or was, puking. Because, I HATE BARF!
It's not like my hatred of barf completely inhibited my nurturing side and prevented me from showing any sympathy. I was more than willing to bring Doug cans of Sprite, saltines and the sports section -- and leave them outside the bedroom door. And I expressed how sorry I was that he felt crummy and told him about the crackers sitting outside the door -- via text message. In fact, I think once I even texted something like "I'm so sorry u feel crummy. Do u need anything, besides death?"
Maybe I should consider going into nursing...
In addition to the sick husband, I got a call from the school nurse on Wednesday afternoon, half-an-hour before the end of the school day, informing me that "Zoe has a low-grade fever and is coughing quite a bit. Please come pick her up." Oh goody, I thought. Two family members with two different illnesses at the same time! This is such a super day! At least I knew Zoe could be consoled in person since she was just coughing and not barfing, because I HATE BARF! And she doesn't have a SIM card in her cell phone, so I wouldn't be able to text her.
Doug felt better by Thursday and Zoe's fever was gone by Wednesday night, which should have made me happy, but instead I felt like I was surrounded by ticking bombs. Every time a kid coughed, sighed, moaned, went into the bathroom or said "uh, oh" I froze in my tracks, ready to switch off all of my senses in order to avoid the sight, smell and sound of the stomach bug hitting another family member. Because, as everyone knows, I HATE BARF!
Fortunately, the rest of the family seemed to be immune to the two diseases lurking in our home and since I had scoured all of the light switches and door knobs three times, I was pretty confident that the disease was gone. But just to be on the safe side, before we left for a tennis match that was about 45 minutes away, I folded up a bath towel and put it on the car floor in front of Zoe's booster seat. I figured in a best case scenario, it would be used for nothing more than a dirt catcher and in a worse case, well, we won't talk about that because I HATE BARF!
While we were at the tournament, Zoe passed the time playing her DS, grazing through the cooler I had packed and also taste testing most of the snacks found in my tote bag, which included a Fruit by the Foot, Nibs, granola bars, and Goldfish. And since the matches didn't end until about 9:00, she was tired by the time we left, and for some reason when the girl gets over-tired, her stomach is also over-tired which, as I soon discovered, creates nausea.
The majority of the drive home was uneventful because, as soon as her butt hit the booster seat and the seat belt clicked, she was asleep. And then when we were within 15 minutes of home, she woke up a little and made The Sound. The most dreaded, horrific, oh my fucking hell why did I ever agree to reproduce, disgusting sound.
Charlie, who was sitting in the seat next to her, said "Oh. Gross. Zoe just threw up. Oh gross. Oh gross. Oh gross..." and on and on and on as he fled to the back of my minivan.
I thought, well fuck me. She did contract the stomach fucked-upedness after all. How in the hell am I going to get Charlie to his match at 8am tomorrow morning? Or maybe she's not sick. Maybe that was just a little burp slosh because her stomach is so full of crap and she's tired. Maybe she's...
And then the gates of vomit hell opened and for a few brief seconds, I seriously considered steering the car to the right and just driving into a concrete barrier.
While Zoe continued to hurl what appeared to be at least two boxes of Wheat Thins, a gallon of lemonade, six apples, three pouches of fruit snacks and I have no idea when she found the time to eat those four Thanksgiving dinners, the boys passed the time by hanging their heads out of the car windows, gasping for air that wasn't tainted by the stench of the regurgitated contents of their sister's stomach. A couple times, Zach yelled out "Oh my god! I just about threw up! Oh my god! Gross! How's it goin' back there, Zoe?" and then "Um, mom, it's pretty much everywhere, just so you know what to expect when you get home."
Ooh, look. I managed to drive past another concrete barrier.
The last ten minutes of that drive home is kind of a haze and involves a lot of muttered and some not-so-muttered swearing, mouth breathing and the development of a fairly noticeable sweaty film on forehead. I did manage to call Doug at one point to let him know what was happening, to which he calmly responded "Oh that's just fucking great." He took the words right out of my mouth.
Miraculously, we made it home, the boys survived, I handled the barf cleanup much better than I ever thought I would have, and I repeatedly thanked the part of my brain that was responsible for coming up with the idea of putting a towel on the car floor, because as we all know, buying a new towel is a lot cheaper than buying a new car.
After she declared the whole experience as "really, really disgusting," Zoe sang songs while sitting in the tub and then danced down the hallway before jumping into bed. And this is when I realized that at no point during the beginning of Doug's illness did he ever barf and then break into song, and there certainly wasn't any dancing down the hallway. He barfed, and then continued to feel crummy before he barfed some more. This girl hurled once and was over it.
I, on the other hand, am not quite over it. It'll take me a couple months before I will be able to hear her cough and not feel a little bit of panic, and it'll be even longer before I'm able to get in the car without making a conscious effort to not breathe through my nose. I know that if I get so much as one little whiff of hurl, my mouth will start to water and I'll replay the entire horrific evening in my head, because nothing will ever change the fact that I HATE BARF!