Yesterday I spent the day wearing a track in the carpet from my bed to my bathroom. I’ve been hit with a 24 hour gastro bug. It’s times like these that I am so grateful for my usual good health. I mean there really isn’t anything worse than having to take care of kids when you feel like dying. Fortunately my kids can entertain themselves these days, and Hubby will gladly pick up a Beef Rendang and Singapore Noodles for dinner. (yay no cooking!)
There is only one thing worse, as a parent, than being sick. And that’s when the kids are sick too. When your kids are sick too, you have to soldier on. You have to take care of their ills, despite your own.
Gastro is one of those bugs that sweeps through our whole family like a plague. Rarely though, are we all sick at the same time, it usually comes in waves like a relay race. Passing from one to the other. There are exceptions to every rule though, and the lingering aroma of disinfectant and Glen20 are enough to send me into a Post Traumatic Stress Flashback.
The year was 2010. We had spent a beautiful long weekend in the country. Fresh air, sunshine and picnics at the park. Pure Bliss.
We are 30 minutes into the 3 hour drive home when Deflector announces “Mum I feel a bit sick” and before Hubby can pull the car over to the shoulder he has projectiled his breakfast all over the back of my chair.
So we manage to find a plastic bucket for him to ‘use’ and I busy myself with the business of making the car inhabitable. We are long past the baby stage, but thanks to Captain Clumsys’ propensity to always be dirty, we still carry baby wipes. And there’s always a plethora of useful stuff under the seats, hand sanitiser, vanilla body spray, a couple of used beach towels and a stray plastic shopping bag. Jackpot.
We pull back into the traffic, having left the carpet mats on the side of the road, with every window open. Deflector is wearing the only item of clothing that wasn’t sprayed in vomit, his jocks, and holding the bucket on his lap.
At this point I’m thinking motion sickness.
We travel for probably another 15 minutes before the Actor pipes up rather urgently with “MUM! Toilet!” but there are no toilets on the side of the Freeway. And for what he needs, a bucket just will not do.
When we pull into the rest stop a few minutes later he’s out of the car before it’s even pulled to a complete stop.
We wait. And wait. While he is busy there, we let the others out of the car for fresh air. Deflector won’t get out, he’s half naked, and looking greener by the second. With absolutely no warning Princess vomits in the grass. I almost can’t believe it.
This is no motion sickness.
Actor emerges looking pale and tired. We load everyone into the car again, and before we head off we find another ‘recepticle’ for Princess.
We make it about 30 minutes this time, before Actor again announces his need for a rest room. There’s a freeway exit to Nowhere that we are forced to take and the only building in the small town of Nothing is a pub.
There’s always a pub.
We have no choice but to go in.
Hubby supervises Actor. The Publican takes one look at him and allows him use of the ‘patrons only’ bathroom. I wait and wait. I hold Princess, and wipe her face while helping Deflector with his bucket. Princess misses the bucket and then she too needs to be stripped naked. When Hubby comes out he needs a towel for Actor.
Oh that cannot be good.
Let’s just say that multiple points of exit, with all available receptacles in use, there was bound to be some form of bodily fluid landing on the floor.
What kind of hell is this?
About 40 minutes later we’re on the road again.
We are not even half way home yet.
We briefly contemplate getting a hotel room, but quickly realise that home is the only place to be when our babies are like this.
We manage to stop a total of 9 times, and it takes 6 hours to make the 3 hour trip. Sometime during the mission for home Captain Clumsy joined the bandwagon too.
I start to question my karma.
As we pull into our drive, the sum of our weekend equals 4 very sick children in varying stages of undress, two plastic bags of fetid clothing, a freeway trail of bodily fluids and, despite the vanilla body spray, a very ver-y smelly car.
Hubby and I join the circus at about 3am.
There really is no way to avoid the bug when you’ve spent 6 hours both entombed with it, and mopping it up. No amount of hand sanitiser could save us.
We quarantine ourselves, I send out the ‘do NOT approach our residence’ alert, and then we all lay around for 24 hours in a haze of Glen20, disinfectant and hydralite.
Inevitably I have to change every bed at least twice when the kids don’t quite make it.
Inevitably there are accidents when there are only 2 bathrooms and 6 very sick people.
Inevitably Mum is going to start losing her marbles.
When the fog clears I strip 5 beds, scrub two bathrooms and still think I can feel the gastro bugs partying in our house.
It takes a professional detail and two weeks for the smell to leave the car.
So each time the gastro bug finds one of us I experience a little moment of horror and brace myself for the epidemic that it is bound to become.
Also, I never, ever, beat myself up about the moving storage unit that is my car. You never know when that stuff under the seats is going to be your saving grace.