We’ve all been there. Found ourselves either on the receiving side of sickness or been the terrible jerk that spreads the germs. Unintentionally, of course. We have done it all, as parents of a combined 8 (plus one on the way) children. We, as families, have been through seasons of terrible sickness including but not limited to; countless colds and stomach bugs, ear infections, strep., the flu, lice (although technically not a sickness, but an important infectious issue to note particularly in regards to an upcoming illustration), norovirus, MRSA, pneumonia, RSV, hand foot and mouth, whooping cough, croup, and probably several more that we have put out of our weary heads. Our children have been hospitalized, dehydrated, required surgeries in light of some of these illnesses (hernia repair, tubes), and dozens of prescriptions for antibiotics and other medicines over the years. So we can confidently say we have been there! So, as we keep trodding our way through flu season and runny noses abound, can we take a moment to talk about illness, germs and other such topics necessary during this season?
It probably goes without saying, but just as a refresher for all of us, let’s be wise with where and when we take our kids after they have been sick or been exposed to illness in the family. If you or your children have been vomiting, had diarrhea, a fever (even a mild one), or are oozing snot from a nose, a mouth or anywhere else. Just stay home. Call in sick, order your food, wash your hands and keep the germs to yourselves as much as you are able. We knowwww how long they’ve been practicing for that Easter musical. Or all the effort that was put into their family history project. Or maybe the sweetest birthday party there ever was. But don’t do it. If you need a complete and detailed list about how and when not to spread the stomach virus, please read the following:
If someone has had the stomach virus, they need to be symptom free (even the runs) for 48 hours before they can be considered well. This does not mean 48 hours after first onset of symptoms. This is 48 hours after last sign of symptoms. Relapses are for real and everything looks fine and dandy until you find yourself in aisle 12 of Target because you “just had to get out of the house” with a situation on your hands.
Diarrhea counts as a stomach virus. See point number 1.
If you have been caring for all the precious people in your life that have been infected with the stomach virus and you’re in need of going to the store: either go out in a hazmat suit that has remained in an area unaffected or phone a friend to drop off what you need because let’s agree, you are covered head to toe in all the germs.
The stomach virus can live on surfaces for up to two weeks. Two whole weeks. So get you some gloves, and get to cleaning. Everything. Ev-er-y-thing. The sheets. Blankets. Grab that bottle of Norwex mattress cleaner and go to town on your pillows and furniture. Bleach. Lemon oil. Just clean it all. Nothing is off limits. Bathe your dog for crying out loud.
New toothbrushes. Just go ahead and throw them all away or soak them in vinegar.
Wash. Your. Hands. Before and after everything.
And now with all that being said, PLEASE BE FREE of the guilt of spreading germs and illness unintentionally. We all know as moms...as parents...as people...we are doing our best. Sometimes we unintentionally put someone else at risk and we have to have grace for each other. We can always blame Walmart or the kids school, or church nursery but let’s not blame each other and let’s not hold onto false guilt.
Finally, in an effort to help you feel better about yourself and to shed some of that aforementioned guilt, we have compiled a list of our top “Sharing is not Caring” experiences, where we have been responsible for endangering others or inadvertently spreading illness. If you’ve been on the receiving end of our generosity, thanks for the grace.
#5 Our family seems to get one nasty cold and one awful stomach bug about once a year. Just before Christmas it hit, but everyone had been better for about a week by the time Christmas Eve rolled around. We cleaned and scrubbed and laundered. We had 40 people over that night. More than half ended up sick on Christmas Day. Maybe coincidence. Maybe the food. Either way, Merry Christmas, everyone! Terr-I-ble.
#4 One time I hosted a play date during spring break with about 20 kids and several moms in attendance. One of mine woke up that morning with what looked like a terrible rash from his pacifier. I let the moms know but wasn’t concerned at all. 2 hours after everyone left he woke up from his nap with all that rash times 10, which actually happened to be a horrific case of hand foot and mouth.
#3 I can trace it back to a trip to Goodwill when I specifically told the children not to put anything on their heads...only to turn around to find them trying on a wig they found in a bin. “Are you serious?”, did you hear the words come out of my mouth, “Don’t put anything on your head!”. I was “disturbed” (to say the least) but didn’t think to continue to check their heads weeks later. But, it was weeks later, when on an early Saturday morning, we discovered that two of the children had lice. (the incessant itching should have been a clue, but lice was a first for us) But, that wasn’t the worst of the discovery. The sad truth was that just days before one of the children, whom was discovered to have lice, attended a birthday party. Not just any birthday party. A birthday party for a long-haired girl, who invited a bunch of other adorable long-haired girls who all gleefully participated in the party and joined together to celebrate this friend and make, no other than, hair accessories! Now, to my knowledge, none of the other girls got lice (OR their mamas were just too kind to tell me that they had). However, I did have to call up those mamas and tell them of our invaders and they each had to treat their girls’ hair as if they did have lice.
#2 One year my husband came down with a bad cough that became increasingly worse and more persistent. It was so bad that he would wake up in the middle of the night with terrible coughing fits, unable to catch his breath. Soon enough, we realized he had pertussis (whooping cough) but not before we had exposed another family and their young infant, who was diagnosed with whooping cough soon after. Thankfully, both of them made a full recovery. (there really is no way to make this one light-hearted or funny, it was awful and we felt terrible for the baby who also got it)
#1 The year we ruined our friend’s family reunion. It was the week before our always anticipated visit from our dear college friends and their children. We came down with a stomach bug that made its way through the house just in time for me to clean and prepare for their visit. In all fairness, we notified them that we had been sick but we all agreed that enough time had passed and we should carry on with our plans. So, they came, they visited and then they went on to their designated yearly reunion at the Outer Banks, where their family of 7 quickly all fell victim to the illness, and then spread it to their entire extended family. A whole family of nearly 30 people were sick on their special family reunion trip to the beach.
The conclusion is two-fold; let’s be wise and try to stay well, and if we are NOT well, let’s try to keep it to ourselves. However; We Get It!, even with our best intentions and our wisest actions, sometimes we make other people sick or lots of other people sick, or give them parasitic bugs to invade their homes. We can give ourselves and each other grace for that. Now, go stock up on some Norwex cloths, some Thieves from Young Living, and some hand-sanitizer from Bath and Body works. Oh and vitamin C+D, elderberry syrup, clementines, fresh squeezed orange juice, and all the sugar free foods from Whole Foods. Cinnamon and honey don’t hurt either, and make a great combination to add to your daily dose of oatmeal. And broth! Homemade broth. Go get you some.
Live long and prosper.