Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The virus heard 'round the world...

... or at least the East Coast.

This is the story of our amazing Christmas holiday. And I start out by telling you it really was amazing and we had a fabulous time because when I tell the REST of the story, you are sure to think it was awful. Because it was. Except when it wasn't. Anyway.....

The week before Christmas break was a busy one for us. There were two evening obligations at school that meant we didn't get home until after official bedtime. (Remember, we live 30 minutes from school and when there is an event, I don't see the sense in driving all the way home only to turn around and go back again. So, we hang out at school for the late afternoon until the event begins). There was also a karate party to attend. And then there was the small detail of getting the boys packed for a SURPRISE Christmas trip to Florida.

Yeah. My in-laws very generously flew us down to visit them on December 21st. Scott and I thought the idea of making it a surprise was really appealing. Which it was. But it meant that we had to surreptitiously get everything packed and ready to go without them noticing. Totally worth it, of course, but challenging.

With all that going on - plus the general OH MY GOD WE'VE GOT TO GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS - it was of course the ideal time for Gabe to get sick. On Monday afternoon I picked him up from daycare and he looked like one of those babies on the infomericials. "For just 23 cents a day, you could ensure that this little boy gets the medicine he needs to combat the infections that overwhelm him." He was a conjunctivitis mess with crusty grossness oozing from every orifice of his face. (Num num!)

Cue me taking Tuesday off and carrying around 28 pounds of sad puppy most of the day. (Not an ideal way to pack for a trip!) He had a double ear infection, so good call on the Doctor's visit! We were a bit wary about the other boys because a stomach bug had been going around their classrooms but it seemed as though they were in the clear.

Cut to Saturday. Gabe is feeling better after a 3-day antibiotic. The boys are thrilled to to be going to Florida - they were VERY surprised! - and we get on our way. The Manchester airport is like candy - not crowded and easy to navigate. The flight down is a titch bumpy and Gabe gets a 6.5 out of 10 for handling the trip. Not awesome but not horrible. YAY! We are in the amazing 85 degree, sunny-ness of Florida!!

All is very well the first couple of days. (I have a very funny running story to insert here but that's another post). We go to EPCOT on Monday and that goes great, too: a little crowded but the boys are troopers and patient and everyone gets to do the things on their 'must do' list.

Christmas Eve starts out great. I go out for a 4:30AM run (my attempt to not interrupt everyone's plans with my running. Not so bad when it's a gorgeous 50-something degrees at that hour!). When I return I get showered and go for a walk around my in-law's neighborhood with Gabe and Elliott. Elliott quietly tells me that he had a bit of a problem in the bathroom earlier and that's why he changed his clothes. (I hadn't actually noticed). Long story short: he thought he had to go #1 when a surprising #2 showed up. To his credit, he did his best. And completely understandably, he was really embarrassed and didn't want to tell anyone except me about it. When we got back inside I went to his room to assess the situation. Oh. My. Plastic bags, stain remover for the carpet, and trip to the side yard and the garden hose were immediately in order for several pieces of clothing. Also, a very hot water wash in the washing machine.

Okay. No big deal. He wasn't feeling sick. Just given strict instructions to ALWAYS sit when he had to go to the bathroom for the duration of our trip. Just in case....

Cue Christmas Eve night. I go to bed pretty early because a cough is coming on and I'm tired from some pretty big runs I've taken. Around 11:30 I hear Scott bolt out of bed and I am up immediately because...

Tommy has barfed all over his bed and the floor next to it. Varsity level barf. Varsity level in consistency and color and smell. Varsity level fun. Back to the hose. Back to the hot water wash. New sheets. New pillow cases. Lame attempt to clean up the carpet. Though he never told us he wasn't feeling great, he had seemed tired all day and didn't eat much at dinner. Thankfully, just after the up chuck, he felt much better and went straight to sleep.

My throat and lungs, on the other hand, decided that this was the time to go nuts. I started coughing. And coughing. And COUGHING. After a few minutes I left the room for the couch. I made some tea. I drank lots of water. Eventually I took the Children's Cough Medicine (BLECH!) and I got a couple of hours of sleep.

Christmas day was mostly uneventful... E had one more 'oops' but it was easily taken care of. Scott very kindly made sure I had a couple of nap opportunities, thank goodness. I had, however, managed to cough so hard in the night that I pulled some muscles in the chest and shoulder. That's a special kind of idiot injury, don't you think?

On the 26th we had to head home. The trip was fine - though Orlando airport was CRAZY and we literally had 5 minutes to spare before we had to board when we got to our gate. Most difficult was the drive home from the airport. A snowstorm was blowing through and it was a sllooowwww go. We got home in basically one piece and immediately had to re-pack for a trip to upstate New York for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party. We made it happen because we are, let's face it, mostly just made of awesome.

That night, Tommy came into our room to let us know... he barfed again. This time in the hallway because he was trying to get from his top bunk to the bathroom. Once again he felt a lot better when we was done but we had the fun of cleaning up yet another spew in the middle of the night.

The next morning everyone woke up feeling okay. I managed to get squeezed into my chiropractor to get my neck and shoulder back into place from my coughing nonsense Christmas Eve. We got on our way to NYS and all was well... until about 1/2 way through Vermont when Gabe barfed all over the back of the car.

I really wonder about the folks who drove by us at that point:  a woman on the side of a snowy road undressing an unhappy toddler in the freezing cold. Thankfully I had a spare pair of jammies for him NOT buried in the suitcase. Scott did his level best to get the barf-ness removed from the car but you can imagine that the scent of it lingered for the next 5 hours of our trip. We called my mom at this point and begged to stay at her place instead of the cheap motel we had reserved... the whole point of the weekend was to NOT stay at Mom and Dad's since we wanted them to enjoy their family, not cater to us! Of course Mom was happy and excited at the idea of spending more time with us, even if it was virally-gained.

Finally, we made it up the long, snowy road to my parents' and Scott said, "Please just find out what bed we are staying in. I am not going to make it long." And he didn't. When we got there he had a very high fever and was just 'done'. He went to bed and I unloaded the car and the boys ... a very long process! When I went down to check on him and encouraged him to take something for his fever, he said his stomach was not feeling up to taking anything. I suggested that the boys felt a lot better after they threw up, so maybe he should try that.

An hour or so later when I came down to bed, he reported a successful "boot" and that he felt better already. The next morning he was not at 100% but by the time we left the house a little after noon, he was back to normal.

Off to the 'schmancy' hotel we went. Pool time for the boys and then we got dressed for the party. It was a wonderful time (pics, sometime... IDK why my family who had cameras have not posted any yet!) with the usual noise, chaos, laughter and joy that my family specializes in.

Back to the hotel we went. We were very nervous about Gabe's ability to sleep with all of us in the same room. So, Scott took Tom and Elliott back to the pool in hopes that G would go to sleep and not awaken when they QUIETLY returned. Worked like a charm. He was super tired and basically begged for his pack n' play. YAY!

And then, about 11:30, Tom started talking in his sleep. He talks a lot in his sleep and when it's 'upset' talk, I have found that usually means he has to go to the bathroom. So, I woke him up and told him to go to the bathroom. He went but didn't have to pee. Went back to bed and continued to have very upsetting sleep talk. Eventually he woke up fully and said his stomach was hurting.

He had stomach cramps. Horrible, horrible stomach cramps. He was in pain and it made him angry. And it made him not-very-quiet. By the grace of God, he didn't wake up Gabe with his hollering. We went into the bathroom and I tried to help him breathe through the pain. The cramps died down eventually and he went back to bed. For a while. Then they kicked in again. The 'cure' I think, was when I told him to get into 'child's pose', which I assured him would get any gas in his belly out. It did. And then led to a very drawn out session in the bathroom. Which mom needed to be present for. I won't go into details here but let's say we had a few flushes before things finished up. I was worried we weren't done at this point so I pulled out my phone and we watched an episode of The Regular Show on Netflix on the floor of the hotel bathroom.  I told him I was hoping we were taking a horrible time and making a sort of nice memory out of it. "Remember that time we watched The Regular Show on the floor of the hotel bathroom...?"

At LAST back to bed. And my coughing started. Just like Christmas Eve. I went straight the bathroom hoping not to wake anyone. I downed the last of the Children's Tylenol (could not find the cough medicine or Ibuprofin...) but the coughing did not let up. Scott got up and reminded me that there was hot water and lemons in the lobby. So, down I went. That would totally do it!

But no. The beautiful lemons were plastic. The hot water had been put away for the night. The desk clerk gave me a tea bag and said I could heat up water in the room's Kuerig. Had I been more with it I would have said "DUH! I don't want to wake up my whole family!" but I did not. I just said "thanks" bought Tommy an overpriced Vitamin Water (to stay off dehydration, I hoped) and headed back to our room.

The tea worked and the kids didn't wake up, despite the noisy production process. I finally stopped coughing and everyone was drifting off to sleep. It was about 2AM.

And then the bars got out. And the nut jobs in town streamed into the small city streets below us. And there was a fight. I honestly thought it was a small riot. The yelling was crazy. Couldn't tell what they were saying but they had STRONG feelings about it, let me tell you. Eventually: police sirens. It was PERFECT. Scott and I were officially NEVER going to sleep. (Thank the good Lord, the kids managed to sleep through this!)

At some point this stuff settled down. At some point I went to sleep. I am guessing that I enjoyed it. I am guessing it was really lovely.

At 5AM Tommy woke up again with awful pain. Back to the bathroom for some fun. Short lived, thank heavens.

But this time, Gabe heard the party going on and said to himself, "Five in the morning, it's time to get up!!"

So, Gabe and I left the room. We went down to the lobby. (Thank heavens it was a nice lobby with cable TV). We walked around the halls of the hotel. We went to Starbucks. We hung out in the lobby some more. At some point my sister and her husband came down to use the gym. We had a nice chat and she read a book to Gabe and I took a mental break. At some other point my niece came down because her family was still asleep and she was still on South Korea time from her semester abroad. And at some point (about 8AM) I got a message from Scott that they were awake and it was safe to return to the room.

He was ready to scoot the boys out so I could sleep for awhile. All I could think of was the 20 mile run I was meant to take. I had set my alarm for 4:30 so I could get it done. Sometime around 2AM I turned the alarm off. But I had to get SOMETHING in. I was wide awake. I probably could have slept but I felt fine at that time. So, I got on my running clothes and instructed Scott to come and pick me up in about 90 minutes. It would not be 20 miles, but it would at least be about 10. And it would be on some kick ass hills.

(This is not really a post about running so I will say nothing here of the chilly but lovely weather that quickly turned to chilly and rainy weather that quickly turned to chilly and icy weather that led to a big car accident that led my family members who knew I was running in that direction to panic about my well being.. I was fine, thanks, but very glad to have my pick up from Scott when I did!)

And so I did. And so he did. And so we went back to my parents house where a wild snow storm ensued. And we had another lovely day with family and food and even some football, which we do have some capacity to appreciate despite our low level of sportiness.

And most importantly, after the rough night we had and given the not-so-pleasant weather, we chose not to go to my sister's place in the Syracuse-area that night and stay at my folks' again instead. This choice proved very wise as it we avoided getting stuck on the side of the snowy road along with her family and 7 other cars for several hours on THAT fateful trip. (If that had happened, Scott says he would have gone completely "Clark Griswold" on me.)

We got home late yesterday afternoon. As we sat down to dinner, I looked at Elliott and said, "Do you feel okay?" He did not.

He had a fever....

Of COURSE he did.

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