WOW! Could you even try to make this stuff up?!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been scheduled for minor surgery, and while it was quickly approaching, I felt a little like we were preparing for a new baby.  The nesting instinct took over a bit in my head, and I made a ridiculously long list of things to clean, organize, or get rid of before the one hour procedure.  (Actually, when put into those terms, I’m glad I didn’t realize that earlier, lest I change my mind and not work as hard as we did.)  Things were coming along nicely, and items on my list were getting checked off at the appropriate times, when disaster struck.  Well….maybe disaster is a bit too dramatic for this story, but it certainly seemed like it at the time.

Early on Sunday morning, the day after we’d turned back the clocks (and the day that everyone celebrates the ability to have an extra hour of sleep),  Andrew crept into our room and complained of a stomach ache.  “I feel like I’m going to throw up, Mama!” he wailed.  I cringed and yawned, and got up with him to find the anti-nausea meds that we’d bought a long time ago.  He dutifully took them and tried to lay back down.  I did too, but couldn’t sleep. Instead, I frantically prayed for him not to get sick.  He did.  Less than twenty minutes later, he was back in our room, politely but more urgently reporting that he was going to throw up.  We just barely made it to the bathroom before he got sick.  For the next six hours–at fifteen to twenty minute intervals–he was sick.  Poor baby had a horrible time, but really was a trooper.  Todd stayed home from church with him while I took the others.   Born with an empathetic stomach, I immediately begin feeling sick to my stomach as soon as anyone so much as mentions that they feel queasy.  I couldn’t tell if he had already spread it to me, but I sat that entire morning fighting the waves of sickness myself.  When the waves subsided,  anxiety filled in the gaps with questions like, “What if everyone gets sick?! Should I put off my surgery longer?  Who is going to want to keep a barfing family while I recover at home?”    The timing was absolutely terrible.

By the time we’d returned home after church, Todd reported that Andrew had had a few more episodes before collapsing onto the couch to sleep it off.  After a few hours snoozing, he woke up and announced that he felt much better.   It seemed that it was a fast-moving bug at least.   I began holding my breath and praying that no one else got sick.

Monday passed quietly and there was no talk of tummy ailments, thankfully.  We crossed a few more items off our list and I cautiously crossed off “be sick” from my to-dos.   Tuesday saw us get perhaps a bit more frantic in attempts to get all of our ducks in a row before Wednesday’s events.  The kids spent their time being excited to go to “Cousins Camp,” the nifty name Nonnie and Papa had come up with for the several days they would spend with the kids, partly because two of their local cousins planned to join in on the fun.   Clothes for six: packed.  School assignments–though lighter than a usual week at home: written out.  Kitchen floor: clean (a must before any surgical procedure.  Am I right? Am I right?).  Laundry room:  devoid of any dirty clothes (seriously, that was a first I believe).   Bedroom:  clean and ready for rest and recovery.  It seemed that everything was ready to go when we went to bed around 11pm on Tuesday night.  Everything, that is, until Chloe started crying and hollering for Todd almost as soon as our heads hit the pillows.   “Daddy!! I frew up!!! DaaaAAAAaadddyyyy!!!!!”

Are you kidding me?!  Seriously?

She had woken up and must have just felt sick, then got sick instantly.  Her entire bed and surrounding area was covered.  Parents, you know what I’m talking about.  The stomach is an amazing organ, but that was not the thought running through my head as I trudged downstairs with the dirty bedclothes at 11pm while Todd cleaned up and comforted Chloe.

For the next few hours–at fifteen to twenty minute intervals–I kept thinking that there was NO way we could send these stomach bug carriers to my in-laws’ house.  Talk about the kiss of death!  Who would do that to generous people who had generously offered to keep our children, who are a lot of work when they’re all running at 100% health-wise?  Apparently we would.  I was also selfishly concerned about catching it myself.  What kind of cruel torture would it be to have abdominal surgery and then proceed to catch a bug that would cause retching?   At that late hour, however, there was little we could do to alter the schedule for surgery, and who knew what the kids would actually do.   We took turns helping Chloe through her sickness, a child who did not welcome the act of throwing up one tiny little bit.  In fact, she screamed bloody murder the second time.  “I DON’T WANT TO THROW UP!!! NOOOOOO!!!! NOOO!  NO THROWING UP!!!!” and then she did anyway.   She was very grown up about it once Todd explained to her that she was going to have to do it a few more times before she could be finished.  From then on, she would get up, announce that it was coming, and wait for us to scramble to catch her.    Around 4:15am, after she told Todd she was feeling better and vomited one more time, she was in fact done, and she too collapsed into bed much like Andrew had done a few days before.  We did too.  When she woke up the next morning, she had no interest in eating and seemed more tired than usual, but otherwise appeared fine.  I watched everyone intently, dreading that with each cough or sigh, another one of them would start their turn.   I could not believe I was going to deliver this potential herd of stomach virus carriers to my in-laws’ house, but felt rather helpless about the entire situation.

We arrived at the surgery center on time and proceeded with the surgery as planned.  Todd’s parents and sister sat with him in the waiting room where they heard the news about the two barfing kids, both in apparent remission.  I’m sure they weren’t thrilled with the news by any means, but they appeared to take it all in stride.  As for me, my procedure went well.  The doctor didn’t find any evidence of endometriosis, but did find a cyst that was easily taken care of.  I feel like I’ve been left with more questions (and bills) than before we started, and honestly the results were my worst case scenario.  It’s little consolation to be able to cross one more thing off the list when we still have no answers (and more bills).   In any case, until my follow up appointment, I have to concentrate on healing from the procedure and see what comes next.

Papa and Nonnie left soon after I woke up and went to pick up the kids for the beginning of Cousins Camp.  They had special meals and events planned for each day and evening, and had put a lot of thought and planning into the entire schedule.  Both grandparents and grandchildren were quite excited about it all!  Todd and I made our way home (they really move patients quickly through the outpatient path:  we arrived at 11:30 and before 3:30 that afternoon, I was tucked into our bed).   After a nice long nap that afternoon, Todd cooked us a small dinner and we watched a bit of TV, marveling at the absolute quiet of the house.  “Do you remember the clocks ticking so loudly?!” Todd asked me at one point.   I couldn’t!

I can’t remember if we were still up or hanging out in bed when I got a text from Patrick at 10:28pm telling us that, in his words, “Ben just puked.”   Worst nightmare, coming true!!! Worst nightmare ever!!!  I couldn’t believe it.   The kids had done crafts that night and their two cousins came over to join in the fun, so they had been exposed, not to mention that we brought it to Nonnie and Papa’s house!!  I just wanted to cry, but thanks to the anesthesia, I still slept well that night.

The next morning I got another text from Patrick with the latest:  Hannah also had thrown up that night around midnight.  Ben hadn’t slept much but seemed better by morning.  Patrick excused himself while they were all sitting in the living room and barfed himself.  THREE KIDS THROWING UP AT LAST COUNT in the care of Nonnie and Papa Tighe.  The plague had spread.

I started getting increasingly worried that it was going to get us too, and as sore as I felt the day after my surgery, I was not looking forward to the logistics of that.  More prayer and just random hand washing.  When I felt good enough to get up for a while, I just walked through the house with the Lysol and sprayed any surface I could.  Irrational, perhaps, but I had to feel like I was doing something.   I was sure there would never, ever be another offer of Cousins Camp–at least not one that included our cousins.    Thanks to percocet, I was able to cope.

The cousins who were supposed to spend the day on Thursday at CC were quickly shuffled out the door, and really, could you blame them? Who willingly puts themselves in harm’s way?!  By this time, the whole Cousins Camp plan had gone away like so much vomit–straight down the toilet.   There would be no sleepovers, no game nights, no movies till all hours.  It was such a shame.

By Friday, there seemed to be a lull in the action, as it were, and Todd and I went by for a visit to see the kids.  Chloe cried and wanted to come home.  “It’s supposed to be cousins camp,” she complained, “but no cousins commed here Mommy! It’s just us!”  How sad.   The little trip out for a an hour or two made me realize that there’s good reason I was told to rest and recover for several days.  I felt yucky by the time we returned home and had to go to bed with my meds.   I was even more thankful that Todd’s parents had the kids so I was able to truly do that.  The quiet house was just what I needed to rest.

Saturday morning, we found out that Andrew had thrown up again late the night before.  That was absolutely unacceptable.  Once one of them had been sick, they were NOT allowed to cycle through again!! NO WAY!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The good news was that it seemed to be a one-time thing and he had woken up that morning feeling great.  Nonnie Tighe, on the other hand, was not.  She was down for the count, having thrown up all night.  Though reports told us she felt better by morning, she was not feeling well overall and was out of the picture as much as possible for the last day of the ill-fated Cousins Camp.  Devastation.

It sounded like for the rest of the crew, Saturday wasn’t all bad and they enjoyed the last day with Papa. I know we gratefully relished in the quiet for one more day.  It was amazing that from Wednesday to Saturday night, we only emptied the trash once, only ran the dishwasher once, and didn’t have to pick up anything but blankets from the family room.  The floors and bathrooms stayed clean.  It was a wonderful treat, but as a regular routine, it would have gotten old quickly.

The kids returned before bedtime on Saturday evening, and in an instant our quiet house returned to our loud, active home.  The kids seemed happy to be back, wholly unimpressed with the size of my incisions (“is that ALL, Mom!?!”), and generally glad to see us.  Papa handed over the keys to the van, grabbed his keys to the car he’d lent us, and said his goodbyes.  The last item on the itinerary for CC was to relax, and he was headed to get started on that.

I was incredibly blessed to discover that Nonnie had laundered all the clothes that the kids had worn while visiting, so there were no dirty clothes.  What a GIFT!  How do you thank people who do so much for you, even at the risk of their own health!?  What kind of card covers that!?

And now, as of Monday night, the house looks, like “normal”:  the kids’ backpacks are here and there, I see a dirty sock or two (but never together, mind you.  We do have to keep some standards around here!) strewn on the floor, and a couple stuffed animals scattered around.   Feels like it’s back to the same old, same old.  I’m glad to see it.  Although I’m not completely recovered and still need to take it slow, the kids are there to help out.

At last count (and I’m still holding my breath, because I don’t feel like we can definitively say we won’t get it…), the toll stands as follows:

2 kids down before Cousins camp

3 kids down during Cousins camp

1 cousin down after visiting Cousins camp

Nonnie on Saturday

Papa on Monday (poor guy, I bet he thought he’d escaped.  I was hoping!)


Do you see why we’re still holding our breath?  There’s still woods there, and we’re not out of it yet, apparently.


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