Today, I just have a couple of words to ponder: stomach flu. The sound of these ominous and revolting words are enough to send shivers down the spine of any mom. I, myself, have always had a particular and unique hatred for them, practically banishing my husband to the porch when he comes home with some sort of dire situation centering around the stomach. However, before a household experiences the expanse of the stomach flu’s wrath, it is difficult to prepare for.
When the dreaded stomach flu season is upon us, it is pivotal that every mother do her best to prepare for her family’s, often inevitable, encounter with this contagious creature. She may choose to arm her bathroom cupboard with pepto bismol, tums, and in some micro-managed households, an exceptionally well-chosen bucket may even be set aside. Let me pause while we all remember a time we had an extremely ambivalent relationship with a bucket…
Every mother will do her best to weaponize her household against all kinds of medical marvels, which seem to breed threefold inside a public school: strep, common colds, lice, influenza. However, there is a particular way in which one can literally see the stomach flu as it slithers through a household, laying claim to any body caught unaware. There is also a definitive foreboding which falls upon the parents of a home that just heard the words, “Mom, I don’t feel so good…”
My own life experiences have taught me that the stomach flu is not to be trusted. It lives a life of covertness and deception as it waits to strike at the absolute least convenient moment. For instance, let’s review my wedding day. I was married to my marvelous husband on December 28, 2013, the pinnacle of stomach flu season. Now I understand why nearly everyone chooses to be married in the summer, when the very existence of this plague is a distant and faded memory. This bug chose to lay claim to my family, as well as my husband’s, the week prior to the wedding. The realization that we were under attack came upon us slowly, as did the panic. We watched in horror as this illness subjugated the bodies of first my sister, then my niece, his brother, my nephew, my dad, and my brother-in-law. As the uncertainty of who would be present at the wedding mounted, my husband and I consumed more Vitamin C than is probably recommended. It began to seem as if we would not escape this inexorable torture, so I began praying, perhaps begging is a more accurate term: Please let us get sick on the 29th. Just give us until the 29th. We have to stay healthy until the 29th.
Miraculously, my husband and I remained healthy even through our honeymoon and the stomach flu was not heard from for two years. Perhaps it was simply waiting for me to forget about it and get comfortable with my life of health. Despite all of my striving to avoid this calamity on my wedding day, my household recently fell victim to this merciless bug, and let me tell you, it is merciless indeed. It was as if this plague just missed us on our wedding day, so it waited for us to be as unsuspecting as possible, poised to pounce at the precise moment. It may not have been our wedding day, but it certainly was inconvenient. My son was the first to fall ill while we were on vacation in Colorado, then I was ravaged by it immediately after arriving home. Just as I was beginning to think I would never recover, my husband came down with it. Since his parents were incapacitated, our poor little boy was so neglected.
It is truly a phenomenon that any of us survived. However, I now confidently know my family has what it takes to defeat the stomach flu. Something I was not so sure of as I heard other mothers detail their tales of stomach flu hardship within their own homes. I am not naive enough to believe it will not strike again, but when it does, I will have a nice bucket set aside.