You’ve been looking forward to this particular week and weekend in February for some time now. It’s the week you have your youngest son’s first Valentine’s Dance that the whole family will attend with him, it’s your other son’s close friend’s birthday party, it’s the weekend you will see one of your best friends and your children and her children will play and have a blast together. This week you also have your first in person team building meeting at the corporate office which you are so looking forward to because you work from home and are very eager to meet and connect and teambuild. You’ve signed up for Family Kindness Night at school and paid for all 4 of your family members to attend. In the spirit of signing up for fun things this week, you also signed your five year old up for a Valentine’s candy making class that your friends will also attend so you can catch up with friends while bonding with your little guy. You’ve signed up to bake treats and provide utensils for the Valentine’s dance…because…why not? It’s the first rehearsal for the Variety Show at school, it’s the big basketball game for your son where he will play against his own schoolmates, and it’s the weekend your very close friend whom you haven’t seen in 11 years, was planning to fly in to visit from Cincinnati. This also happens to be the week you need to bring your car to the autobody place to be fixed from an accident while you get a rental. It’s basically the week of all weeks since 2018 began with bookending weekends that are jammed with fun things and necessary errands. It’s the WEEK OF ALL WEEKS NOT TO GET SICK.
And then that unexpected beast hits your house like a bomb. One by one you drop like flies with a horrible virus rendering each of you paralyzed and in bed for days only to get up to make the trek to the bathroom. Parents dread this more than the middle of the night wake up, more than having their mouth coughed into, and even more than hearing the words, “I just pooped my pants.”
Let’s take a stroll through hell together shall we? It’ll be like a choose your own adventure book except it’s choose your own doom. Because, let’s face it, it’s lurking at every turn.
You pull up to pick up your older son early from his after school program and see that his bus was just pulling up to the building. He’s getting off the bus and you see that he is bearing a slight resemblance to Slimer.
You walk your sick son through the parking lot to the car. Here he vomits for a few minutes. Turn to page 3 if you think it’s just a fluke, turn to page 13 if you think it gets worse.
Your inner voice tells you this will pass and it must be a 24 hour stomach bug. Sadly, he will miss his close friend’s birthday, his basketball game against the team he’s been looking forward to playing all season, and his brother’s dance, but he will be better by Sunday and your family will still be able to do some of the things on the agenda. It will be fine!
Then you realize you or your husband will have to stay home with him while one of you goes to the Valentine’s dance with his brother. So much for the whole family attending his brother’s first dance.
That’s 3 things that are now a no go on Saturday, but everyone will survive. Turn to page 10 if you think you’ll pull through and make at least one of the plans, turn to page 20 if you know the other shoe is definitely going to drop. Surely you’ll still be able to meet up with your close friend and her kids on Sunday though right? So you turn to page 10.
You’re thumbing through the calendar and realize there is another event that will be missed. The valentine community service event at the nursing home. OK, so 4 things, you’re going to actually miss 4 things.
Suddenly, you begin to feel extraordinarily tired. You’ve just put your sick, puking child to bed and you’re breaking into a cold sweat. Nope. You’re not getting sick. YOU CAN’T BE. You felt so good and energized this week. You must just be really tired from the day and from contacting and explaining to your cancellations.
You wake up on Saturday, and groggily reach for the phone to see what time it is before getting up. The time says 8:30. How did you sleep so late? You kick yourself in your mind thinking of all the scrambling that needs to be done to make it to the basketball game in 15 minutes. Oh, wait- that’s right. Your son is sick so he will not be making that game. You lie your head back down on the bed and realize maybe there are some perks to having a sick child. While you’re sad to miss this game against his friends, you can now lie around for a minute or two instead of rush out the door. You try to swing your legs over the side of the bed to get up and realize every ounce of you feels as though Chucky has just taken a little baby sledge hammer and hammered all of your limbs in your sleep.
You could not will away the sickness. It came for you. Turn to page 50 if you think it’s a 24 hour virus, turn to page 12 if you think it’s going to last a week.
You mope down the hall and down to the basement where you hear the children’s voices. You ask yourself how the hell you will get through the day while your husband is at work for the next 4 hours and you feel like you’re walking through a lake of mud with every move. Your sick child needs your attention so you guzzle some coffee and try to pretend you’re alive.
You realize you will have to cancel Sunday’s plans too with your close friend and her family that you haven’t seen since October. You agonize inside over how much you were looking forward to this. It dawns on you that your 5 year old’s physical that has been on the calendar for months and is tomorrow also needs to be cancelled now because there is a very high probability he will be coming down with a sickness of some kind too.
You put movie after movie on for the kids and basically pass out.
Your husband comes home and you wake up relieved for a minute before falling asleep for another eternity.
You wake up again in a complete panic realizing you never baked a damn treat for the dance and you never dropped off the utensils you raised your hand to bring.You ask your husband to go buy store made cookies and to drop off the utensils and he says he’ll get the cookies but says just forget about the utensils.
So naturally, you get in the car in your fever sweat soaked pjs, crazy hair, Voldemort looking skin, and drop off the utensils.
You come back home, your husband tells you you’re a crazy spazz and you agree you probably are. But you signed up to bring the utensils so there really wasn’t a choice in your mind.
You go back to bed. You wake up at 12, 1, and 3 a.m. to your son crying and sick. You crawl into bed with him and enjoy side by side fevers in unified misery. This is actually a bittersweet moment.
Sunday rolls around and you’re both worse. You call the doc and swap your 5 year old’s physical with a sick appointment for your older son thinking he must have the flu.
He tests negative for the flu-thank goodness, but the doctor tells him he has one of two nasty stomach viruses and that it is likely you have the same thing. The virus can last for a long time the doctor warns.
While there, your son randomly tells the doctor how much he likes hamburgers and even though his stomach is killing him, all he wants is a hamburger. The doc says bland food only son-sorry. Sick son begs to please be allowed just one hamburger on his way home. Doc says fine, but your stomach may not like it.
You take him to get the hamburger.
Two hours later the hamburger says “I’M BAAAAAAAACK!”
It’s a terrible evening in the bathroom thanks to Mr. Hamburger.
Monday rolls around and you’re both still feeling awful. You get your other son ready for school and drop him off. You cancel your work appointment and email your boss that you are going to miss your first teambuilding event at the home office tomorrow.
You spend the day shivering under the blankets and sleeping off and on while doing nastified laundry and helping your boy make it to the bathroom.
You bring your other son to a friends so he doesn’t have to be bored out of his mind for another night. He comes home looking not so good. He’s pale and he climbs right into bed and says he’s tired – which happens- never.
You know exactly what this means. Turn to page 100 if you think he’s getting the virus, turn to page 2 if you think you’re going to die of depression from your family being sick on the worst week to be sick.
And so then naturally…
Just kidding, but you know you wanted to at that moment.
You’re on day 3 and your son is on day 4 of this awful illness with no end in sight. Then your other kid throws up that night-(of course …you knew that was coming right?). You’ve spent way too much time in your bathroom, laundry room, and on your couch these last few days and now you come to the realization you will have to repeat it all over again now that another one of you is sick.
You wake up early on Tuesday to pick up your rental car and drop off your car to be fixed from the annoying fender bender you had a few weeks back.
You cancel your mom and son candy making excursion next and think to yourself how much money has gone down the drain these last few days with all these event cancellations. A friend offers to pick up and drop off medicine which you gladly take her up on without hesitation. Leaving the house feels impossible. At one point you go into your backyard and lay in a lounge chair to feel the sun on your face for a few minutes just to feel alive again.
You play video games, watch endless brain rotting YouTube Kids videos mixed with some good Harry Potter movies, sleep, shower, then shower your kids more times than you’d care to count, and start to resent food in all of its forms.
Valentine’s Day comes and goes and none of you can even look at chocolate.
Thursday rolls around and you’re ready to be checked into an insane asylum. Your son is finally well enough to go to school and you’re starting to feel human again as well.
Good riddance unwelcome visitor that ruined the most fun, full week of plans. Here’s hoping you don’t come back anytime soon. Turn to the last page if you’re ready to be done being sick.
As a parent, you feel these words to your core when a virus has finally left the building…
3 thoughts on “When Your Family Gets Sick…A Choose Your Own Adventure Tale”
As a writer fresh off novel number one I have to say you have just created a synopsis to an amazing novel. There was a movie from 1960 titled – Please Don’t Eat the Daisies – I’m having flashbacks as I type. If you are a novelist, and something tells me you are, use what you shared and work your magic. I’m already laughing.
Thank you for sharing. Excellent!
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Bryan, firstly, congrats on your novel- what a time for celebration! Second, I will have to watch that movie- they don’t make them like they used to. Third, I am not a novelist- but one can dream. I hope to write aabook or two someday. Thank for the confidence boost!
Thank you and you’re wrong, my friend. You are a novelist. Some of us share our adventures with words while others choose other ways. Which ever you choose you’re creating every day. Cheers!!!!
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