Monday, December 13, 2010

Puke, Popcorn and the Christmas Play

            The puking started at 10:45pm. Celia was wailing and soggy popcorn was everywhere. We ran upstairs and instantly got to work – stripping her from the soiled pajamas, holding her tightly, inspecting just how many items in the crib needed to be thrown in the wash.
            She was still semi-hysterical after a few minutes so we took her downstairs and sat on the couch, where Michelle and I had been having a lovely Saturday evening conversation ten minutes before. Finally, she was cleaned up and the environment was calm and quiet.
            Then she puked again. Soggy popcorn and bits from breakfast now all over the couch, her pajamas, and us. We broke into action again, cleaning and comforting her, changing her into yet another clean set of pajamas, and every once in awhile looking at each other to see if the other had some sort of non-verbal cue revealing a deep insight into the matter. Was it the popcorn? Was it food poisoning from dinner? Our minds raced trying to remember every item she’d eaten in the last twelve hours.
            Just when the room had started to feel peaceful again, she heaved and puked once more. This time, we were prepared with towels to catch the vomit. Soiled towels, cushions, and articles of clothing were everywhere. I scooped them all up and threw them out of sight into the kitchen to be dealt with later.
            The vomiting went on for a couple of hours. She started by throwing up every ten minutes, then every fifteen, then eventually every twenty. Eventually she would fall asleep in between vomiting in one of our arms, while the other parent frantically ran around trying to clean up the accumulating mess.
            I paused long enough to shake my head. It had been such a lovely day, with sledding, soaking in grandma’s hot tub, and watching Celia dance and eat popcorn as we watched Mama Mía before bedtime, but now… I imagine the puking episode is probably what she’ll remember most.
            By 12:30am Michelle and I were pooped. Michelle went to bed and I slept with Celia in her room. I said to Michelle, “If she’s still vomiting at 1:30 I’m taking her to the hospital.”
            “Okay,” Michelle wearily nodded her head.
            We didn’t actually arrive at the hospital until 2:45am. I fell asleep, and the puking episodes had petered out to every half hour, so I kept hoping it was over. Finally, we left when Celia herself said, “I want to see the doctor.”
            Yes, she’s only two, but my heart instantly said, “Trust that girl’s instincts!”
            After all our worry, it turned out to be a virus, not food poisoning. They gave her an anti-vomit pill and a popsicle, and we went home completely exhausted, collapsing into bed at 4:45am.
            The next day she seemed better, but had a massive vomiting episode in the early afternoon. Celia impressed me with her maturity – I would never have expected a two-year old to be so brave in the midst of such wretched illness. I tried to be strong myself, even though I was feeling pretty light-headed, nauseous and exhausted. Needless to say, we stayed inside all day.
            I was sad, because it was Sunday and the kids at our church were putting on a big Christmas play. We’d been looking forward to it for months. In fact, Celia and I even put on our coats and boots, thinking we’d sneak in the back, but Michelle caught us before we got out the door.
            “What are you doing!?” she said.
            “Going to the church play,” I replied sheepishly.
            “You’re going to expose all those people to sickness?! That is not responsible!”
            I looked down and said, “I know. You’re right.”
            It was a mellow day, and I took a few naps. Joshua seemed like he’d caught the vomit bug as well, because, although he is The Pukenator, he seemed to throw up a lot more than usual. Only Michelle seemed unaffected. She cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned some more. We did a dozen loads of laundry, washing Celia's favorite blankets twice by the end of it all, and by Sunday night, the house was sparkling, as if nothing had happened.
            Getting sick is never a surprise, but I never seem prepared for it, either. When I’m feeling well I act as if it’ll last forever. All those bed-ridden days and major aches from my past are but a hazy memory. Illness is a helpful slap in the face to remind me of my mortality and frailty.
            Sometimes I get so comfortable with the life I’ve set up around myself, it takes a vomiting child to shake me awake and remember to appreciate the simple things again. A clean couch. A good night’s rest. A happy child.
            And especially, food going out the right end.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously! Health - not to be taken for granted, hey?! For child and parent. We've had viral bronchitis around here...and thinking 2 weeks of Elliot being sick was hard, then I got it and have had it for now 3 weeks. Trying to keep up with an active 2 yr old when you're sick is not fun.