I’ve been a bit scarce around these parts, what with getting behind on work, seeing my cousin get married, and getting the stomach flu. Guess which was the most fun?
Actually, my whole family got the stomach flu in various ways, so I thought it might be interesting (if slightly disgusting) to write about the stomach flu. If you have a weak stomach, I recommend you bail now. I won’t be offended.
First off, although I grew up calling it the stomach flu, what we call the stomach flu isn’t actually any kind of influenza. It’s usually what doctors call viral gastroenteritis, although that term is quite generic and includes things like rotavirus (which kids are now vaccinated for) and Norwalk viruses (the ones you hear about on cruise ships).
Whatever the virus, the common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and generally feeling like you’ve been run over by a particularly unpleasant train. Yael and I got a similar constellation of symptoms, Avi a slightly different one, and Barak threw up. (Of course, with Vomitous Boy, that could mean anything.)
Viral gastroenteritis is not a particularly dangerous illness unless you’re especially young, especially old, have certain pre-existing conditions, or are, say, an idiot like me.
It turns out that if you don’t eat anything or drink any fluids at all and vomit a lot, you’ll get dehydrated. Crazy, huh?
I mean, it’s not like I did it on purpose, but I managed to go through a day vomiting and not drink more than a sip of water (because nothing would stay down) and then drive 20 minutes in stifling heat to pick my daughter up at camp. This led, shockingly (yes, that’s sarcasm), to me lying on the floor in the school lobby, unable to get up.
I was dizzy, nauseated, breaking out in a cold sweat, and so weak I could barely walk and then finally couldn’t even sit up as I vomited into a plastic bag. Paramedics came, Avi came, and when I got somewhat incoherent, Avi agreed it was time to go to the ER. (Um, I mean I was more incoherent than normal.)
In hindsight, I should have gone home, because by the time I got to the ER, I was already getting better and probably would have been fine with some Gatorade, but hindsight is always 20/20, right?
The worst part of the illness ranked up there in the top 10 worst experiences of my life and if you know me, you know it’s got some stiff competition 😉 The severe stomach flu/dehydration combo reminded me of when the doctors treated my preterm labor with the highest dose of magnesium sulfate. Y’know, the kind of experience where you don’t think you’re going to die, you hope you are.
So, ladies and gentlemen, what have we learned? First and foremost, even if you’re certain you won’t be able to keep it down, drink the damn water/Gatorade! If you only keep 1% of each sip down, that’s better than nothing. When they say it can cause massive dehydration, they aren’t exaggerating. Keep taking those sips.
Next, if you’ve got the stomach flu, it might be best to call someone else to pick your kid up from camp. Unless you enjoy feeling like an idiot, that is. In which case, feel free to shlep.
And, of course, wash your hands frequently to lower your chances of catching viral gastroenteritis in the first place and giving it to anyone else.
Thank you thank you. I’ll be here all night. Still feeling crappy, I might add.