Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stomach Flu Vs. Shaw and the family. The battle, the recovery, and the lessons learned.

Bug attack. Starship Troppers

Attack of The Stomach Flu.

36 Hours of Yuck Against This Bad Bug. Lessons Learned and Links Below.

Shaw finally got the stomach bug going around town.  He's almost 3 years old. If you're a parent reading this with a child who's puking everything up, is hungry, and tired, and you're stressing out with a partner, or yourself, I can relate!

We just had 36 hours of vomit, laundry, crying, worrying, doctor calls, and arguing with my wife about slightly different ideas about care and feeding at times. Luckily, or perhaps not luckily, I was on my last day of parental leave Friday, so we had both of us home for this ordeal. We didn't come to blows, and patience reigns, but there were the classic moments of struggling not to think the other had gone bonkers. And so far, we've isolated baby Ivy from the bug.

There's a ton of good info on the Web, and about 10 tons of bad info, or thoughtlessly copied info, so I'll just relate our experience here.

First. Contact your doctor so they know what is going on, or go the ER, especially if you are concerned that your kiddo is seriously dehydrated.

Second. It's scary! We found it very hard not to feed a hungry, scared kid. And even harder to feed them and see them puke it all up. 

Lessons Learned

Our final design for easy to clean sleeping area
Keep a sick log. We did not, and found we were foggy on details when we called our doctor's night time hotline after 22 hrs. The health worker we spoke to asked us a lot of specific questions. We were both tired and stressed. We couldn't remember (or agree on) when it started, and what and when we tried to feed him. Including, especially, how many ounces, and of what? For how many minutes did it stay down? What color and how much did he pee?

Stay alert for signs of dehydration. Shaw didn't pee at all for 22 hours. We didn't think much of it at first, but the hotline health worker became alarmed when we told her this, which in turn made us worry. After speaking with her, we finally just put him on the potty despite his protests, and he peed over a cup (right after we hung up the phone, of course)! We actually kept a measuring cup near the potty to measure pee...can't wait to tell Shaw this when he's older.

Find an easy-to-clean pukey-nap solution.  We used a rubber yoga mat, with a rolled-up pillow end, and two or three easy-to-wash towels as his blankets. We kept the house at 70 degrees (warm, for us). We went through three mats and maybe 10 towels in the course of the sickness; he just kept missing the bucket we had for him (thank you to our friends Laura & Abby for the tophat potty, the perfectly-sized toddler barf bucket).

Take it slow and systematic. Our doctor, and good Websites, seemed to land on 15 to 30 minutes between 1oz doses of clear liquid, preferably WATER until vomiting stops entirely. We had terrible luck with diluted juice. Water with a little salt and watered-down coconut water stayed down. Crackers and food of any kind didn't work for 36 hours. WATER WATER WATER WATER WATER.

Hose it down. We disinfected the laundry with Pine Sol and/or bleach, but forgot about disinfecting things like door knobs and sink handles for a day or so. We used white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol mixture we make at home. Here's a Readers Digest set of recipes for money-saving and effective DIY cleaners. More links below.

The Down and Dirty


It started 11:30pm Thursday night. Puked, peed, puked again, massive laundry load. Wouldn't you know it, Shaw had been having a rare night sleeping in the big bed with momma and baby from bedtime on. So, it was major King-size bed laundry time. He peed. Back to sleep with me in his own bed.


  • He puked every couple of hours through the night into early morning. We tried a little water. Puked it up. 
  • Morning: he held down four ounces of water for about 20 minutes when he puked it up after having another few ounces plus one ounce of watery grape juice. He slept a lot. We broke out the TV, which we watch maybe once a week for an hour or so at the most. We let him watch commercial-free streams of Curious George on Amazon, and Thomas the Train videos on YouTube. He slept, a lot. And puked, most of what we gave him for clear liquids. 
  • Afternoon: we tried a cracker and water. Up it came. He slept for a hour or so.
  • Later afternoon: he managed to hold down 4 ounces of coconut water, in 5-minute increments, but we pushed it due to excitement of him being better, and game him some watered down juice too and he puked it all up after about 30 minutes. Crying. But at least producing tears, meaning he wasn't critically dehydrated!
  • 9pm: still couldn't hold down water. Called our doctor's hotline, they asked about pee, and since it had been about 22 hours(!) they said "Get thee to the ER!" This level of action didn't resonate with us, though. We put him on the potty, to collect (har har) some more data, and he peed over a cup!!! We were ridiculously excited about this. While the pee was dark (bad) it wasn't the darkest we've ever seen. He held down an ounce of pure water. We spent thirty minutes figuring out what had transpired over the past 24 hours (Did he puke before or after the fourth ounce of water at 10:30am? 10:45am. No, 10:35am. Read: keep a log). We called the hotline back, with our new data and revised story. They said NO ER, since he peed and actually held down an 1oz of water before going to bed.
  • Overnight: I slept in his bed and he slept on the floor on a Yoga mat, with towels as blankets. He woke up once at 1am and asked for Momma...wouldn't drink. I panicked inside, but he seemed responsive, so we went back to bed.


  • 7:30am: Woke up slow, limp, groggy, wouldn't drink. I picked him to potty, he went pee, 8 oz, and while not dark and smelly, not too much so.
  • 9:00 am: He'd kept down about 4 oz of light honey water with a little salt, given in 30 minutes, about 1.5 oz at a time. Then 20 minutes later, 1/4 of a banana. Then he begged for more food, "peanut better and sausage," but passed out as I came up with toast and very light jam after 15 minutes of stalling. He had one  dry puke reflex in his sleep.
  • 11:30 am: He woke up, didn't puke. I took him to try and pee: nothin' doin'. I fretted. He went back to sleep. 
  • Noon.: Up. Toast, lightly salted and honeyed water in a bottle. He said "I think I'm getting very better." Made, by his own admission, a "monster pee" ("monster" is our word for something truly giant). Future Shaw, let it be known that your parents did NOT measure the volume of this pee.
  • Afternoon (the present moment): Clingy, weepy, fussy, whiny boy. We are all tired and poorly fed. I am being as patient as a saint (Laura's words) while I look after both kids, who are actually doing great teamwork already (taking turns being fussy. Ivy, thank you very much for passing out as soon as your brother started to lose it. Laura is editing/writing this post and doing self-care like flossing and drinking hot chocolate. Things are approaching normal.
  • 8 pm. Good dinner. No puke, but the other end is starting up with the big D.  Laura and I are exhausted,  feeling headaches, body aches, hoping we're not getting sick. My shoulders are achy from holding Ivy. Ivy is so far spared. Bed.


Diarrhea attacks, leaving scores of damaged underwear in its wake. But, it seems just a byproduct of the bug because he's chipper and eating normal food fine. We think we're through it.

Of course our brains are mush. And the entire house smells like puke and poo.

At one point this morning I was asking Laura about a hiking trail we'd been on that I was taking Shaw to, in a desperate attempt to get out of the shitting house, and she just looked at me and said some garbled language like "nergle nostradomous" and we laughed and almost cried with each other. I have to brush my teeth again.

Every day so far with two kids is making Laura and understand the desire to DO NOTHING in retirement. At least long enough to recharge until personal passions surface that must be followed once again. '

Monday, Tuesday
I got the big D. Shaw does too. I tried to go to work, ended up calling for a pick up and going from bed to bathroom only.

Steady. Shaw ate more at dinner then I though possible for his size. I'm 90% and hydrating. We will live to fight this bug again!

Resources and Links

DIY Homemade Cleaners (often better, always cheaper!):  

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