I’ve always prided myself on being quite hardy, with a fairly robust disposition to illness. I’m generally a one-cold-per-year kinda gal, stiff upper lip, nothing that a hot Ribena and an early night won’t fix.
However, having children has definitely compromised my immune system. I think I’ve been more ill since having them than in the entire preceding decade. The latest burst of germs came courtesy from my very own Moo, who over the course of one weekend crawled around on the floor of no less than four public places, ingesting a microcosm of bacteria.
I’d just done my first KIT day back at work and I’d had a bloody lovely day, undisturbed by feral children and rammed to the sky on caffeine and bread. I sauntered in to my Mother-in-Law’s house to fetch the girls, slinging my new work handbag down by the front door and slipping off my Dune 3.5″ patent heels. I felt every bit the successful working mama, and like part of the old me had started to tip-tap on my conscious like the Blue Peter tortoise coming out of hibernation (except for that year when he’d snuffed it). I breastfed Moo, who lazily lolled about over my new slimfit trousers and my new cream blouse. She looked up at me and smiled and it was all rather tranquil.
Until she projectile vomited over 80% of my person. Now, this ain’t milky reflux sick we’re talking here. This was grown-up, vegetable soup vomit. This had chunks. This STANK. It went on forever. My MIL noticed my drained pallor and offered to fetch me a baby wipe. “Er, I think we’re going to need a bigger boat.” I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say I had to be loaned clothes to go home in, and it’s a dreadful shame that their sofa and carpets are pretty much brand new. Moo, to her credit, seemed fine, so I put it down to an enthusiastic onboarding of milk atop a standardly large grandparent lunch.
Pleasingly, she did the same vom trick over my husband when he got home, but then that was all. Fresh as a daisy, back to normal, stomach cleansed.
Fast forward 48 hours, and I was inhaling a bowl of spinach and ricotta salmon pasta (gulp) when I started to feel a trifle dicky. I forged on. I ran two miles to the gym, swallowing back a couple of suspect burps. I lurked in the changing room for ten minutes, willing my stomach to calm the fuck down. I climbed onto the treadmill, set it to 8kmph with an elevation of 12.5, then quickly eased back to 7kmph. 12 minutes passed, and I thought I’d better have another little quick trip to the sanctuary of the loo. I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror, left the gym, and commenced a gentle canter home. By the time I hit the first set of traffic lights, I was practically crying.
“Oh dear,” said my husband. “Have you actually been s….”
I was already in the bathroom, which is where I stayed for the entire night. I know it wasn’t, but at the time it felt worse than bloody childbirth. When I’d finally managed to go more than two hours without puking, I crawled into bed like the bloke at the end of Into The Wild. “Please don’t make me parent today,” I begged the dormant mound next to me. “Please, please don’t leave me with them.” To his eternal credit he was a bloody SAINT, taking the day off and depositing Moo on me only for breastfeeds, while bringing me fresh rounds of cooled boiled water. On that, babies get a fucking rough deal….cool boiled water is disCusting.
I HATE being man down. It’s something to do with the loss of control over my own body, where my brain is willing my limbs to speed up a bit and just look a bit lively, for fuck’s sake. I hate the sense of self-pity. I even kind of hate the sympathy.
The morning after the night of all the sick, we had a letting agent showing some prospective tenants around our house and I’d already cancelled it once. My husband had dubiously agreed to let himself be dressed as a reindeer at our music group, so I was left to my own sicky devices to get myself up and out. The people were coming at 10am, so at 9.20am I managed to light an apple and cinnamon scented candle to diffuse all the vomity aroma, and then haul my disgusting, crusty, pale form into the shower. By 9.35am I’d attempted to flip a sponge around my salient parts and swallow some toothpaste. By 9.45am I’d scraped my hair back, donned yesterday’s jeans, and let out a pitiful mewl as I pulled my Uggs on. I then rewarded myself with a ten minute lay down on the sofa before emerging into the freezing-yet-squintingly-sunny morning.
All I needed to do, ALL I needed to do, was walk 0.25 miles to Tesco Express, hang around there for a bit, then walk home slowly. I could nail the walking slowly bit, no bother – I was probably one notch up from a thawed cryogenic blooper. My brains were swirling and my nose picked up every whiff on the breeze, thank Christ it wasn’t water treatment day at the nearby sewage plant (not even kidding).
I somehow made it to Tesco without being run over and tried to think about all the foodstuffs I might fancy. Over the course of my trip, my basket at some point contained:
- Vegetable sushi
- A beef pot noodle
- Mini cheddars
- Chicken broth
- Garlic bread
- Ginger biscuits
- A bottle of Sprite
- A sharing bag of Walkers Ready Salted
- 4 x white demi baguettes
- A pack of fruit pastille ice lollies
- A microwaveable tray of mashed potato
- A bag of Fox’s Glacier Fruits
Excellent choices, all, for the dicky tum. Most of it went back, but I kept the soup and the Sprite. After paying for the feel-good fodder, dropping £1 on the floor in the process and feeling too ill to retrieve it, I started the trudge home. At the halfway point I REALLY needed to sit down but the nearest bench was covered in frost and I didn’t fancy getting piles, so I just stood for a while, holding onto a lamppost and contemplating life.
I arrived home, thanking the patron saint of fuck that the letting agent had been and gone, and collapsed on to the sofa, where I remained in a borderline comatose state for approximately seven hours. I was then called upon to put up the sodding Christmas tree and write 40 Christmas cards with a wobbly scrawl.
I was treated to one day of being a Sicknote Sue, before my husband returned to work and I was left in charge of the cubs. I appreciate that I was bloody lucky – it’s usually the mum’s duty to soldier on and still whack a meal on the table for 6pm. Sometimes though, we literally can’t. And speaking of literally can’t, I never want to see spinach and ricotta salmon pasta ever, ever again.
May you forever be norovirus free, dear reader.
-SJW December 2016