Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Belly Woes

Last week, several of us dropped like flies--victims of the most recent (and relatively wide-spread) belly thing sweeping this part of the country.  It's nasty; it's violent.  It's fast and furious--and quite contagious.  Having already heard of this bug's reputation for brevity, I wasn't thrilled when my dear friend's eight-year-old turned inside out, but I didn't start filling all my kids' bedrooms with trashcans and ginger ale, either.  I have to admit, though, my heart sank when she called to tell me her little guy was sick--my kids were at her house at the time.  Three days later, my daughter threw up out of her nose and tear ducts (NO LIE!).  I was able to skate through a Boy Scout camping trip but didn't manage to make it the whole way home.  In retrospect, Route 9 between Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw might not have been my wisest travel option.

If you have been exposed to this nasty virus, take heart.  The typical 7-10 days of gross symptoms do not seem to be associated with this strain.  I'm not sure how long sufferers are contagious, but relief is only a few miserable hours away from onset.  I made sure we all had big bottles of stuff to replace our electrolytes (whatever they are), and lots of time to sleep for the next 24 hours.  After the initial explosions, the feeling is that of being pulled through a knot-hole, but the weariness lifts after a day or so.  I have read two books in the past few days and slowed down enough to enjoy my gang.  Those alone make the whole miserable experience worth it.

So, as with all ailments that cause dehydration, mommies need to be on the alert for symptoms that could lead to real trouble.  It's okay to be overly cautious if your baby or toddler is throwing up or having diarrhea.  It is far better to be safe than sorry.  In other words, who really cares if you annoy your pediatrician?  Call anyway.  He will ask you how often your child is urinating, so remember to keep track.  But little guys are not the only ones who can rapidly become dehydrated--older children, adults and, especially, the elderly are at risk.  Know the symptoms, monitor your sweethearts and hunker down.  This, too, shall pass.  (No pun intended.  Okay, well--maybe.)