Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Stomach Virus -- An unappetizing subject

This isn’t the type of post I typically write, but because I am knee-deep in the trenches right now with a family stomach virus, I thought I would blog about things that I have found helpful over the years.  I will never forget my first experience with my daughter’s stomach virus.  I was ill-prepared, pardon the pun.

It was 3 a.m., and my daughter came into my room and uttered the three words that shake every mother to the core:  “Mommy, I threw-up.”

In my half-awake state, I leapt from the bed and assessed the situation.  My daughter was covered in vomit --- chin, hair, pajamas.   Bed, covered.  Comforter, covered.  Bah.

There is no way to prevent this first assault on the bedding/pajamas/floor.  It is unavoidable, unless the child indicated prior that their stomach was upset.  Especially the younger children.

At first, I panicked.  I literally did not know where to start or how to handle this situation.  My dear husband is of no use, with a high sensitivity to bodily functions.  So it was up to me to deal with the mess, and somehow prepare for the next day or so of stomach virus.

My first encounter with treating a child’s stomach virus was disastrous.  I spent days doing buttloads of laundry, trying all the while not to succumb to the monster myself, each time I rinsed the offending sheet or blanket.  I knew I would have to have a plan, for the next time.

So, I developed a system.  This may be something that others just do naturally, but for someone like me, I needed to actually think about it and write it down, really learn it, so that I could deal with it better and smarter.  Here is what I came up with:

It’s 3 a.m.  Your child has vomited in their bed.

  1. Get a waste bin and line it with a grocery bag.  Direct your child to use this bin for vomiting.  Bag will be tied, discarded and replaced after each incidence.  Do this BEFORE you clean your child.   Trust me.  Being prepared is your ultimate goal.
  2. Clean up your child.  BEFORE you remove pajamas, clean hair, hands and face.  I like to use diaper wipes because washrags have to be laundered.  I put diaper wipes into a grocery bag and into the trash right away.
  3. Remove pajamas.  Leave child in underwear and undershirt, if possible.  During the next day, you could even put them in a smock, which can be wiped down.
  4. Have child wash hands and face in bathroom, then rinse mouth and brush teeth.  Pull all hair back into a ponytail or pigtails.
  5. Remove sheets.  I ball them up, put them in laundry basket, and put them in the laundry room to rinse in the morning in the utility sink.   (If you’re a saavy mommy, you will have had a mattress protector under the sheet.  My favorite is something like THIS.  I place them under the sheet.)  After rinsing in the sink, I will launder them, by themselves, on a stain cycle.  I wait until the morning to launder, because by the morning, I may have more items that require laundering.
  6. Instead of fresh sheets, I have found that using a sleeping bag works much better.  The material is easier to wipe down, if necessary.  We use the sleeping bag until the virus is gone.  This cuts down on the laundering of bedding over and over.  Or, designate a throw or blanket to the patient.  Patient is only allowed to use this blanket or throw for the duration of the illness.  ALSO, I will designate a bathroom hand towel to the patient, which no one else is allowed to use.
  7. CLOROX/LYSOL.   First thing in the morning, wipe down/spray all doorknobs, faucet handles, railings, fridge handles, and anything else your child normally touches.  Ipads, kindles, toys, schoolbag, all of it. 
  8. 100% Grape Juice.  Get your whole family on a grape juice regimen as soon as a virus starts.  100% Grape juice, three times a day.  Whomever is actually vomiting only gets WHITE grape juice.  Grape juice has something in it that can prevent you from getting the virus, or prevent the virus from getting too bad.  I saw it on the internet, so it must be true.  I actually tried it, and it seemed to work.  (Placebo?  Can't say.  Don't care.)
  9. The patient gets no food until next afternoon.   Sips of room temp water or cola that has been stirred and flattened.  Then, she only gets toast, broth, crackers, bananas, diluted gatorade and water for a day or two.  Slow, small bites.  I will also allow patient to have a peppermint, or peppermint tea, or a chamomile tea.
  10. Wash your hands.  Constantly.  Everyone in the house needs to wash hands every time you touch something.  Seriously.  Make sure you are washing the little ones’ hands and faces, too.  Make sure the patient gets a nice, warm shower at some point in the first day.  And don’t forget to shower and change YOUR clothes, too.  

Prevention and preparation will get you through it.  It’s harder with little ones, who simply can’t direct their vomit into the proper receptacle.  Even the older ones miss, sometimes.  You must be swift and thorough with the cleaning process, however, so that the virus is contained.  I tend to like to clean with throwaway items like paper towels, chlorox wipes and the like for floors during this time, rather than towels or sponge mops.  I just couldn’t imagine keeping mops after using them to clean vomit.  Just, no.

I wish I could put the kids in a bubble, but unfortunately, this is just a part of life.    Hopefully, there are tips here that you can use, the next time the stomach virus monster visits your home……

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