Last week a stomach virus roared through my family like one of Denzel Washington’s runaway trains. It showed no mercy as it struck down one after another of us.
First, my grandson, Gabriel, all dressed up to go to a family wake last Sunday, hurled onto the kitchen floor. “Mommy!” he screamed, horrified. He’s only four and had no idea what had happened to him.
On Monday, I babysat for Gabriel and my two-year-old granddaughter, Alessia, while my daughter-in-law Lindsey went to her uncle’s funeral. We didn’t yet realize that a vile virus was on the attack. Gabriel had only thrown up once, and he seemed better.
“Mimi, I puked on the floor and made a mess right over there,” said Gabriel. “Mama says if my tummy feels like that again I should yell, “I’M GOING TO PUKE! And she’ll give me a bucket so I don’t make a mess.”
That night, Lindsey, who is 5 months pregnant, threw up through the night. She called me in the morning, groaning and crying. I raced through a few necessary errands, and relieved my son, Brian, so he could go to work. I brought the kids to my house so Lindsey could sleep, and I could get as far away from the evil virus as possible.
Lindsey was still sick on Wednesday. Again, I relieved my son and this time stayed at their house so I could pick Gabriel up from pre-school, give the kids’ lunch, and leave when Alessia went down for her nap. Lindsey had stopped throwing up. She took a shower, ate a little, but still looked green.
The worst was over, I thought as I headed for my critique group’s Christmas party at Joan’s house on the Cape. At 11:00 p.m., Lindsey called and asked how I was feeling.
“Fine,” I answered. “Why?”
“Alessia woke up screaming, ‘Daddy!’” She had thrown up in her crib, on her toys, books, pillow, everywhere.”
Now I don’t know about you, but all it takes is the power of suggestion for me to feel queasy. I was spending the night at Joan’s, and certainly didn’t want to get sick there. Luckily, Joan had some Pepto Bismol, and I took several doses before I finally fell asleep at 2:00 a.m.
Driving home at 9:30 the next morning, Lindsey called. She was crying again and very upset. “Are you home yet?” she wanted to know.
“No, I just left Joan’s. What’s wrong?”
“I threw up again all night. My doctor wants me to go to the hospital. She’s worried I’m dehydrated.”
“Where’s Brian?” I asked.
“He’s sick, too.”
“Oh, no,” I said, pulled into the first convenient store I saw, bought Pepto Bismol and swigged from the bottle.
This time Lindsey’s stepmother took her to the hospital, while Brian stayed home with the kids. I brought them some food and supplies (Gatorade and Pepto Bismol) so Brian wouldn’t have to go anywhere. He looked terrible. He had a raging headache, probably from dehydration and lack of caffeine.
I could not, would not, did not stay, feeling nauseous myself. I had to take my 82-year-old mother to a doctor’s appointment the next morning (Friday), and did not want her to get sick.
Lindsey spent the night in the hospital getting fluids; Brian and Alessia stopped puking and were just weak and nauseous. Sweet Gabriel was doing everything he could to help Daddy and Alessia while Mama was gone.
For four days, I took Pepto Bismol for my queasy stomach. I thought the worst was over and went to the gym Saturday morning for the first time in two weeks. I returned home to find my poor husband lying on the couch, moaning and shivering with chills. He slept all day and hurled all night.
I switched to Pepto Bismol tablets. Much easier to get down than the pink stuff when your nausea is at it’s peak.
It’s Tuesday now. I’m still not sure if Denzel can save me from this runaway train or not. I’ve certainly had enough time on the tracks. So far, I’ve been lucky.
Writing took a back seat to everything that went on with my family last week. There will be times in your life when you cannot write a chapter, a page or a blog. Don’t beat yourself up. When the time is right, you’ll get back to it. In the meantime, read. Read books in the genre or on the topic you’re trying to write. Read a new “How to” book. Spend an hour at your public library or at your nearest Independent bookstore.
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter-in-law, Lindsey is pregnant with my third grandchild. Real life is about to interfere with my writing goals again. I made Gabriel and Alessia each a cross-stitch baby blanket and a birth announcement. It takes hours and hours, months and months. It’s time I start working on the blanket for my new grandchild so that he or she will have it in May. This is a much better reason for not writing than the stomach flu!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2011.