Monday, October 23, 2006

Interruption Continued: It only got worse...

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon with a child laying on me that would sleep and wake up only to vomit.

Charlie spent the better part of yesterday afternoon with a child laying on him that would sleep and wake up only to vomit.

They woke up a lot. They vomitted alot.

My problem was the third child that we couldn't really attend to, but because he was feeling a little better than his sisters, had complete run of the kitchen and took full advantage of climbing on the table and pulling as much as he could off the counters. There was nothing we could do. If we got up, we'd wake the baby up that was in our arms - and the vomitting would begin all over again.

Before this hell storm hit, Charlie was in the process of preparing his world-famous chili for the 8th annual neighborhood chili-cookoff. For the past week, we had planned to spend yesterday afternoon having fun with our neighbors. Yesterday, we knew that we wouldn't be able to spend the day having fun with our neighbors ... but we still needed to get our chili in to the competition.

The chili was finished, all we needed to do was load it in the wagon and transport it six houses down the street. This was much easier said than done. When we were 20 minutes late, the chili cook-off coordinator called and over our answering machine, asked where we were ... the chili tasting had begun and people were looking for us. Charlie was mad and said "Forget the chili cook-off!! We'll just keep the five pounds of chili and eat it ourselves. There is no way we can leave the kids!"

Eat five pounds of chili, by ourselves?? Are you kidding??!!

The look and smell of chili after everything we were going through was turning my stomach faster than a top.

While Charlie insisted we not leave - I obsessed that people were waiting for us. This went round and round until we were forty minutes late for the chili cook-off, and I finally stood up, passed my vomitting child to Charlie, changed my shirt and ran the chili down to the cook-off. I apologized for being late and explained that everyone in the house had fallen ill a few hours before. I seriously doubted that anyone would eat a bite of the chili ... because, if I was in their place, I most likely wouldn't eat anything that I knew came from a home where 3/5ths of the population had been puking their guts out.

Once I dropped the chili off, I turned my wagon around and ran back home. Total time lapsed, four minutes.

When I arrived home, Carolyn and Elizabeth were both vomitting greenish yellow bile. We called the doctors office and spoke with the after-hours nurse. She suggested we take the girls to the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital. I always want to do the right thing when it comes to our children's health, but I've learned that dashing off to the hospital is not always the best idea. The few times I have done this as a parent - with the exception of when William was still a preemie (to be discussed in my forthcoming NICU post), I am always sent home with instructions to continue doing what I'd been doing. I certainly didn't want to go sit for in the Emergency Room four hours waiting to see a doctor and then two hours more before discharged only be told that I was doing the right thing at home.

So, we didn't go.

My next door neighbor, Karen, had been at the chili cook-off and dropped by to see how everyone was doing. She is a nurse at the local hospital and although we've been neighbors for nine years, we never really knew each other until our kids were born. It never ceases to amaze me how having children expands your social circle in ways never imaginable.

Karen sat with us and after observing the children for 20 minutes, she thought that they probably had gastroenteritis and our best bet was to stay home and give them small amounts (10 cc's) of liquid every 5 minutes. Giving her my thanks - she left.

Carolyn seemed to be feeling a little better but Elizabeth's vomit soon turned reddish brown. She was wretching so hard but nothing was coming up - except what looked like coffee and blood. And then Charlie got it.

While I sat with Elizabeth and Carolyn, and watched William empty out of new pantry that does not yet have child locks installed, Charlie was in the bathroom. The doorbell rang and I got up, with two sick babies, and went to the front door. The chili cook-off coordinator was standing on our step, with our crockpot and a prize bag. Charlie's Triple Trouble Chili took home Third Place in the cook-off.

Fast forward to bedtime. After giving Carolyn her 10 cc's of Gatorade, she threw everything up that she had consumed since her last vomitting episode. Elizabeth was still vomitting reddish brown. William, who I had wrongly assumed was feeling better, threw up all the apple sauce and saltine crackers from the day - across the kitchen floor.

Nausea hit me, full force.

I called Karen and asked if she wouldn't mind taking a look at Elizabeth. She told me that once she got her four kids to bed, she'd drop over. While I waited for Karen, I realized that our kids were absolutely exhausted and needed to be put to bed. While Charlie remained in the bathroom, I got everyone cleaned up and put in their cribs, atop their plastic sheets, said a prayer they'd sleep soundly, and then I set about trying to clean the pots and bowls that were full of remnant chili.

Nausea hit me even harder. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat chili again.

Karen arrived and while I protested, she set about cleaning the kitchen. Washing dishes, scrubbing counters, taking down the booster chairs that were covered in vomit. She was adamant that she was staying with me - and thought it would be a good idea to wake Elizabeth up in a few hours to see if she could tolerate some fluids. It had been over 8 hours since she had been able to tolerate anything. She also suggested I call the nurse line again to ask about Elizabeth's reddish brown vomit, which was a concern to her, too.

While I was on the phone with the nurse, Elizabeth woke up vomitting. Just as I was picking up Elizabeth, William woke up vomitting. I passed the phone over to Karen and while she spoke to the nurse, I tried to clean the kids off. A few moments later, it was decided that I really needed to take all three of them to the Emergency Room. There was no way Charlie could accompany me since he was so sick. Karen insisted that she would accompany me to the Emergency Room ... at 11 PM on a Sunday night ... with three vomitting toddlers ... a friend she's known less than two years, who was on the verge of vomitting, herself.

Karen is my newest bestest friend.

We loaded the kids in their carseats, covered them with towels, and while Karen sat in the back with a bowl she was sticking under each of their chins as they were wretching, I drove to the hospital. The waiting room was packed. I watched while people turned to look at our adorable triplets in their in-line stroller and then cringed when all three of them started throwing up again, as if on cue.

As expected, we saw the doctor four hours after we arrived. We saw several doctors. We saw several nurses. Even though the kids had been unable to stop vomitting in the waiting room, once we were in the observation room, they seemed to have a miraculous recovery. Because the kids ate a popsicle and were able to tolerate 3 oz of Gatorade over a two hour span, we were discharged with the instructions to keep up what we were doing at home. I paid the $75.00 co-pay per child, for a total of $225.00, and wheeled my extremely over-tired children back to the car. It was now 4:30 AM.

This morning, when I woke up at 8 AM, Charlie was sitting on the couch with William who had started vomitting again. Our pediatrician checked in at 9 AM, and after all that we'd been through, decided it was warranted to prescribe anti-nausea suppositories.

The rest of the day today, while a Baby Einstein marathon has played on television, I've thought about our horrific experience and this is what I've come up with:

1) Going to the Emergency Room was probably the right thing to do. Even though they sent us home without any intervention, they put my mind to ease when they diagnosed Elizabeth with a "likely" ruptured blood vessel in her espohogus which was the culprit for the coffee colored vomit.

2) The doctors confirmed that we were doing the right thing at home and stressed that no more than 10 cc's every 5-10 minutes should be given when vomitting. I had been directed to withhold fluid for one hour following a vomit episode. But, because our kids had never stopped throwing up, they went for more than 8 hours with no fluid. Ten cc's is a very small amount, but it is critical that they not consume more than that when they are ill, or else it will shock their stomach.

3) Steering clear of red Gatorade is a good idea when kids are sick because the red can disguise blood in the vomit. Pedialyte is gross tasting for many kids. Popsicles are worth their weight in gold and because they take a while to consume, are a great alternative to sipping fluids.

4) Sleep is the best remedy when you are sick.

5) If vomitting is severe and lasts for several hours, a call for promethazine (or phenergan) suppositories is warranted to prevent dehydration. I should have requested a prescription for these last night while I was at the Emergency Room.

6) When you have small children and family that lives out of town ... a buddy is essential. I know that my experience last night, as difficult as it was, would have been 300 times harder, if I had not accepted the help from my next door neighbor. Do not live in a bubble ... know your neighbors. You never know where there may be a situation where you could be well poised to help each other in times of need. If the tables had been turned, I know I would have helped Karen. One day - I hope I can repay the favor.

7) I never understood before how my mother said "I couldn't get sick when my children were young." This never made sense to me ... but now it does. More than the world I wanted to lay down and cry yesterday - but I couldn't. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I fully believe that sheer will alone - is what kept me from tossing up my cookies.

8) Last week, while my mom was still in town, I had gone to the grocery store and stocked up on all kinds of produce items that were on sale. When I returned home, Charlie and my mother were positively shocked that I had purchased several bags of spinach that were marked down. They asked increduously, "Don't you watch the news?! Don't you know that there is an e-coli scare linked to spinach?! Do you live under a rock?!" So, maybe it's a good idea I start watching the news. Still, I wonder. None of us had eaten the spinach ... so I have no idea where we picked up this bug.

9) There are few things worse in the world than having three toddlers throwing up at the same time, while your
spouse is locked in the bathroom throwing up, and you are surrounded by the remanants of a chili cook-off.

10) There are few things that make you so thankful for the healing power of the human body when the very next day ... everyone is feeling better.

Just as I wrote that last sentence, Carolyn for the first time all day, was sick again.

How do I get off this train?!


  1. I'm so glad you accepted help from your neighbor. Sounds like you need a few more friends like that around right now.

    Gosh, I'm sure the suppositories will help tremendously! You did the right thing by taking them to the ER. It's an expensive comfort but nonetheless a comfort.

    I have to say, I wouldn't have touched the chili with a 10 foot pole, but I'm sure it's wonderful. The only words that I can offer you now is Lysol, Lysol, Lysol. I'll say a BIG prayer for all of you guys tonight. It's GOT to get better!

  2. Jen,

    We just had this in June. I'm certain you have the Rotovirus. It lasted FOURTEEN days. Fourteen days of vomit. Fourteen days that someone would spontaneously vomit on the table during a meal. The diarrhea will come next. It's hard to imagine how that is possible when they aren't eating anything.

    My husband and I got it too. It was the day of my baby's first birthday and all my triplet mom friends arrived with their triplets and the minute they walked in the door, my daughter vomits in front of everyone. She then proceeded to vomit through the entire party, while I herded everyone outside. By the next day we all had it. We were so sick my husband said to just call social services to come get the kids, because there was no way we could take care of them. (He was kidding, sort of).

    At one point I ran out of every single sheet and towel in the entire house and just slept in vomit.

    Just keep them hydrated. Let them eat popsicles if that's all they can eat. It's awful. I FEEL for you. But the good news is that all kids get Rotovirus and it won't be as bad the next time. Hang in there!

  3. Your neighbor is an angel. I hope you all are feeling better soon! Most of my children are able to get over flu viruses quickly, but I have one poor daughter who has to get a suppository every time. I practially quararntine have to quarentine her from any sick person (as well as the sick person) becuase when she gets sick, she gets really sick. I feel for ya.

  4. Oh Jen
    Hang in, it can only get better!!!
    I am so glad you had such a great neighbour to help. Hopefully by next week this will all be a memory.

  5. first.....this is me with my mouth hanging open. Wow!

    Second, if it is rotovirus there might be help for the next phase, at least for you and Charlie. When my husband got it, our doctor prescribed Bentyl. It worked for me too when I got it. It made it so we were at least able to keep food in us and keep our strength up a little better.
    I'm sending up prayers for you.

  6. Oh, man, I don't even know where to begin. I feel so bad for all of you, and yet so thankful that I have never had to experience anything like that yet.

    Thank you, Karen, for being such a good neighbor.

    Hoping you all get better very very soon.

  7. I wish we were neighbors (not on farms)! Don't know if I could handle the vomit, though...
    Feel better soon! Thinking of you guys!

  8. I,too, am guessing it is rotovirus. I am sooo sorry. Do make sur eyou keep them somewhat hydrated though because I wound up in the hospital with one of mine getting hydrated by IVs....thus leaving 2 at home sick....
    Hang in there!

  9. YOU POOR THING! I hope the puking stops soon.

  10. that sounds like an utter and complete nightmare- I can't imagine it- as a child life specialist- i will say if it is rotavirus- be sure you wash you toys- dishwasher or clean well

  11. Wow. I am so sorry for you guys!!!
    I think, once the dust settles, your neighbor might need a nice gift basket or something! She is an angel.