The Pukenami

It’s been a rough week, friends. We managed to survive Thanksgiving break I think. To be honest, most of it is but a distant memory which has been wiped out by the horrors of this week.

It all started on Sunday night. I was looking forward to finally having a few hours to myself on Monday after nine days of the kids being home. Then a text message from the school district popped up. Monday was declared a snow day due to the severe winter storm that was predicted. NOOOO!!! Come on, people! Eight to thirteen inches of snow is not that big a deal. Throw some chains on the bus tires and round up these misfits! Teachers and staff can’t make it in? Oh puh-leez. I could send out one group text message to fellow moms and we’d be on the streets en masse in our all-wheel drive mini vans and 4-wheel drive SUVs faster than you can say “Starbucks Run” to personally chauffeur each precious teacher right to the front door of the school to save us from our spawn.

Fine. Fine. Safety first I guess. At least with a snow day I could shove the kids outside to play or to a friend’s house to eat all their groceries and make messes there. (My apologies their friend’s moms. I owe you.) Thus another day was survived. Then at 1:30 AM Karma remembered. I woke up cursing First Born thinking he’d cranked the heat up to 84 degrees again. I stomped downstairs and checked the thermostat. Nope. Just where I left it. And then it hit me. For the next five hours I was violently ill every twenty minutes. Dear Husband came downstairs in the morning to get on an early morning conference call and found me in a heap on the couch. “Is something going on? Why are you down here?” I was too delusional and exhausted to give him one of my signature, “I loathe you” sneers.

I went upstairs to continue my slow, painful death. I stopped in the kids rooms to wake them up, “Guys. Mom’s super sick and I need your help. Can you please do a good job getting ready for school for me?” And you know what? They did! First Born got ready, got his little sister dressed and they all went downstairs. I rapid-fire texted some reminders to my husband whilst I curled up in the fetal position in my bed. Everyone managed to make it to school with just a marginal amount of yelling. The rest of the day was a blur of hallucination-riddled dreams and trying to keep down sips of water.

Just as I thought I was starting to peek around the corner of health later that night, Satan’s Wrath came for Dear Husband and beat him into submission. Hard. He was down for the count. Luckily we both prefer to suffer alone and in silence. Later that day I left him to suffer in peace and went on a Target run to get the bare necessities, but collapsed in sheer exhaustion next to him as soon as I got home. Eventually we both survived the day and were beginning to feel human again, so after the kids went to bed we started to binge watch Schitt’s Creek on Netflix (highly recommend, btw…)

img_20181201_174907125.jpgEvidently, Karma was not done with our family and sent Satan knocking again, this time for Warrior Princess. I heard her coughing and went up to check on her, only to step in … Well…let’s just say I’m going to need to have her carpeting deep cleaned, or maybe just burn it and start over. DH heard me cursing and came up to find me stripping down her bed. He took one look and said, “I’ll go wash her fancy teddy bear that got hit with her toxic waste!” And quickly exited while I scrubbed carpeting, changed sheets and settled her back into bed.

I gaggingly shoved the carnage into the washer, set it to the hottest setting to nuke away the germs, and collapsed into the chair to watch some more Schitt’s Creek — Lord knows I needed some ironic comedy at this point. Alas, it was not in the cards. We heard crying coming from upstairs, thinking it was round two for dear princess. Nope. It was Young Son this time and it wasn’t pretty. He managed to hit every bit of bedding, and let’s just say I could tell he’d done a good job eating his vegetables at dinner. As we were stripping his bed, round two was starting up in darling daughter’s room. Somehow we got everyone cleaned up and back into bed. I wrapped up laundry loads two, three and four and tossed them in the laundry room and shut the door on the horror show. Comedy was no longer going to save us. We quit and went upstairs to bed, but I stayed awake since I knew the next rounds were coming soon. Luckily YS was one and done. WP fought four more rounds that night, but woke up triumphant in the morning.

It was now Thursday morning and we were four for five. I called in absences, cancelled the day’s appointments and YS, WP and I couch surfed for the day. Finally! Friday would be some time for me, right? I got the kids on the bus and savored a few moments of quiet, took a long shower and relaxed. Alas my reprieve was short-lived. You guess it. My phone rang and it was FB’s school. I fearfully answered and it was Nurse Nightingale. “First Born threw up. I’m so sorry.” It’s not like it was a surprise. Literally half of his class was out with the Plague already. At least now the circle of barf is complete and we can hopefully move on.

In my now over ten years of experience of dealing with young kids and stomach flu, I have learned a few things. For those moms who have yet to experience the joys of the stomach flu ravaging the entire house, I share these thoughts and tips with you:

  1. The size of the child and the volume of their stomach is inversely proportional. Brace yourself.
  2. When it hits, it’s gonna suck. But you’ll live through it: I know, I know. You hear that first gagging cough in the middle of the night and your blood runs cold. “NO!!!!” But now is not the time to hide. Mom up. GO! RUN! Get in there and keep that vomit vesuvius in one spot before they come running to you and puke all the way down the hall and all over your bed! Because if they do that, you will not want to live through this.
  3. Breathe through your mouth. The first clean up is the worst. To survive it without adding to the disaster at hand, breathe through your mouth. Think happy thoughts. Puppies and kittens. Rainbows and unicorns. Do NOT let panic set in! Strip down the puker, the bed (it’s just a rule of nature that they managed to hit every single sheet, blanket, pillow, stuffed animal and anything in a five foot perimeter,) hose them off as necessary and shove them back into bed. This is not a PotteryBarn Kids photoshoot you’re prepping for. This is field triage in the middle of war. Staunch the bleeding and take cover, because it’s not over, sister.
  4. Bath Towels are your best friend. Hopefully you have an extra set of clean sheets and mattress protector in the linen closet. This time, save yourself 20 loads of laundry and grab a stack of bath towels for your little vomit villain to sleep on. When the next round of hell hits, you only need to peel away a layer instead of changing the whole bed again. It’s all about conservation of energy. You’ll need it.
  5. Rely on Friends: I’m one of the worst at asking for help. When a friend says, “Ugh! I’m so sorry honey! Can I bring you anything?” The answer is always YES!  Inevitably the inmates ate the last of the saltines and left and empty box in the pantry and you meant to get more laundry detergent at the store that day. (Note: this is also a good time to test said friendship. If she brings you toxic waste colored Gatorade instead of the clear, she is not your friend and you need to find a new one. Seriously. Who gives a pukey kid the equivalent of a Sharpie in liquid form??)
  6. Never trust a fart. It’s a pretty sure bet that at least one person will have the lower GI version of hell when it hits. I forgot to remind my kids of this rule and suffered for my mistake. Poor WP had a rough go of it. What’s another load of laundry though…

On that note, I’m off to go spray Lysol on more things and throw in another load of laundry. Just a word of warning: the next person who asks me how my Christmas shopping is going is getting throat punched.

 

Advertisements

Chatty Gassy Kathy

We’ve all had that one co-worker whom we’ll never forget. Some are those inspirational people who accomplish more in an hour than you can in a week. Maybe it’s that person who had the most epic creative ideas that made you wonder what drugs they took (and why weren’t they sharing?) Or maybe it’s that boss who was always yelling and throwing chairs. Well, the co-worker I’ll never forget was Chatty Gassy Kathy.

Kathy was near retirement age and was the receptionist in the small office of a non-profit I worked at long before I was married or had children. As I look back, perhaps God put her in my life to help prepare me for what was to come.

I can remember the day I went in to interview for the job. It was right before Christmas, and I walked into the office which was eclectically decorated for the season with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the corner and motion-sensing ho-ho-ing Santa sitting next to it. Kathy greeted me cheerfully and told me to have a seat. She immediately started chatting me up — it was more of a dizzying monologue of sorts.

“I need to go to Sam’s Club tonight after work and get a big pack of nice toilet paper. See my husband and I are going to a Secret Santa party at my niece’s house tonight. The theme this year is ‘comfort’ so Bob decided that he wanted to bring toilet paper. If you’ve got nice soft toilet paper, it’s comforting he said. So off to get toilet paper I go! I better get a big roll of wrapping paper while I’m there too.”

Two things to note here. 1.) Bob is not to be confused with Young Son’s tooth fairy — two totally different guys. 2.) This was not a white elephant party. No. Kathy was going to a Secret Santa party where people were expecting to get a spa gift certificate, a fancy candle, a pair of cozy socks or a bottle of Bailey’s and hot cocoa mix if they were lucky. But no. One poor idiot was going to be stuck with year’s supply of toilet paper from Bob and Kathy.

She continued on, “Do you shop at Sam’s Club? I love it there. You can get the best deals on things. Bob really likes their big containers of beef jerky.” Lucky for me, before she could tell me more, I was rescued by the person with whom I was to interview.

She took me back to her office and said, “I see you’ve experienced Kathy.” I nodded and nervously laughed. In the end, the interview went really well and there was a job offer on my answering machine when I got home. (Yes, I said answering machine… it was that long ago.)

On my first day I was standing next to Kathy’s desk, and she told me all about the party. “There was some real nice stuff. I got a pretty blanket and some gingerbread lotion, but I don’t think I can use that stuff because it made want to lick my hands all day when I tried it.” I asked how her person liked the toilet paper. “Oh, they really appreciated it. I mean who doesn’t need nice toilet paper?”

computerAll the while she was extolling the highlights of the party, her computer was making lots of clucking, grinding and percussive sounds like it was backing up some big file or something. (Remember this was back in the day where computers used 3 1/2″ disks and were the size of a carry-on suitcase.) Come to find out it was not her computer making these sounds. It was Kathy. Turns out Kathy had an epic flatulence issue and this was just the beginning.

She would walk down the hall to deliver a phone message or to refill her vat-like mug with black Folgers coffee, and you could hear her coming. Fart Fart…Fart Fart Fart…all the way. Then she would stand in my doorway and tell a good Bob story, punctuating the exciting parts with a fart or two. (Turns out my friend’s father-in-law does this too. Who knew it was a thing?!) These stories would go on for ages and sometimes I’d just put up my index finger, pick up my phone and start dialing to get her to go away.

Kathy was an equal opportunity farter too. Volunteers, major donors and delivery people would visit the office. She farted for them all. One time I was in the conference room getting a volunteer set up to work on a mailing. Kathy came in and chatted up the volunteer and suddenly let a good one rip while she continued on with her story. The volunteer looked at me wide-eyed, mouth agape. I just closed my eyes, hung my head and slunk back to my office to put my head down on my desk for a few minutes.

One day I’m surprised someone didn’t end up hospitalized. We were all in an endless meeting in the conference room. When it finally wrapped up, Kathy walked out to her desk and unleashed the most horrific, deafening 20-second fart in the history of mankind. We all thought she had died. But no, she was just fine. The rest of us nearly stroked out from stifling gales of laughter.

At first I was concerned Kathy had an underlying health problem causing all her intestinal distress. But no. Turns out Kathy enjoyed a very high fiber diet. Every day for lunch she would eat two pieces of this ridiculously high fiber bread (I think it was guaranteed to have a whole tree ground up in every loaf.) Then she’d eat it open-faced with sliced apples on top, which she’d meticulously cut one by one with a dull paring knife. Every. Day.

double bubbleIn addition to Kathy’s chattiness and gassiness, she chain chewed Double Bubble. You know — that really crappy rock-hard gum in the yellow, blue and red little wrappers. She’d chew piece after piece all day long, spitting it back into its wrapper as soon as all the flavor was chewed out 20 seconds later. By the end of the day she would have about 4″ of spent gum in her trash can. Maybe she had such a high fiber diet because she had a fossilized wad of Double Bubble stuck in her colon and she was trying to dislodge it with methane.

As I look back, I am amazed at how “normal” this all became. Honestly, I probably should have made an anonymous call to the EPA or at least OSHA to file a complaint about toxic air quality in the workplace. I shudder to think about all the Kathy ass-air I inhaled during my tenure there.

I’m sure you’re wondering, “But what about the smell??” Honestly, they were basically benign. Sadly, I’ve given it some thought and I think it was her diet of fiber and Double Bubble which accounted for the lack of odor. Where one gets into trouble is when farts become SBDs (silent-but-deadly) due to a rancid diet. If Kathy were malicious, she would have dropped off a SBD as she did a drive-by of your office. But no. Kathy was pretty forthright in her flatulence.

I have no idea what became of Kathy. For all her quirkiness and insanity, she was a sweet lady. I hope she and Bob are doing well. I imagine them sitting together on their porch snacking on their colon-blow bread and beef jerky from Sam’s Club…and I’m guessing their bathroom is well-stocked with nice toilet paper.