Last week saw the tot throwing up again, the side-effect of which was that he acted all sweet between barfs. “I hope you don’t get sick too, Da-da,” he said to me after I washed out his puke-bowl. “’Cause usually when I get sick, you get sick too, and being sick’s no fun.”
I hear ya’ kid.
Like most adults, I was a pretty healthy guy until I started interacting with children on a regular basis. First, I made the mistake of becoming a teacher – a mistake as far as my immune system’s concerned. Those were some of the sickest years of my life. You would think that the body would toughen up after a year or two of succumbing to every germ that passed through the school, but alas, I’d catch a cold in November and be steadily ill till April.
Since becoming a parent, Felix pretty much got it right: almost everything he catches passes to me, and vice versa. It’s like we share the same system, which I guess we probably do. That’s bad news for the tot’s sinuses, as mine seem the perfect incubators for infection, and it’s even worse news for my stomach, which up until two years ago had been pretty hardy. Now, my son brings home a bug from a play date, and I end up camped out (and cramped up) in the bathroom with a major case of the nasties.
My new fear is this Norovirus – the Sydney strain – which reports say is sweeping the globe. I see its progress in my Facebook feed, and just yesterday got word a good friend was laid low. People can spread the Norovirus — a stomach flu — before they’re even aware they’re sick, and the virus lingers on surfaces longer than most germs. It’s a viral super-villain – Undetectable! Unstoppable! Untreatable! Seriously, though, in little ones, a stomach illness of this severity could lead to dehydration, while it would lay parents flat for a few days, at least.
What can be done? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your first defense is washing your hands well. Longer than feels normal: for thirty seconds at least, scrubbing under hot water. Sing the ABC’s to help time yourself. Do this often during the day, but especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. And of course, have your kid do it too.
If someone in your house does fall ill, clean the bathroom well, as well as any surfaces that person comes into contact with. This includes sheets and clothes, which you may want to keep separate from the rest of the family’s. Otherwise, all you can do is hope. And remember: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. An adage that, honestly, provides me little comfort when I’m vomiting my guts out.