Heads up, ya'll. I have the stomach flu. And if you had asked me 10 hours ago, I would have surely told you I was dying. Right now my people are avoiding me like the plagued victim that I am, leaving me no choice but to take to the keyboard and pop out the random thoughts that went through my head as I rode the nausea and vomiting train today. And yes, I will Clorox Wipe the keyboard when I am done.
My flu hit me at work. How bad does it suck to be starting an IV and feel the gurgle in your stomach that says "it's not a good idea to continue this endeavor", immediately followed by your brain's warning: "Do NOT try to fart this one away, it will be disastrous"?" I heed my brain's warning, but I stick with the IV start. I gurgle again. And I look at my friend Michael working on the other side of the patient and say "I'm going to the bathroom. NOW." And I'm off. I run to the bathroom and throw open the door to find...the floor guy. Damn floor guy, waxing floors at work on our shift. He is always inconveniencing me in some small way but this time he has completely outdone himself. I blast down the hall, panicking now, my destination the teeny bathroom outside xray. I make it. Barely. I no longer care that there are people on the other side of this door, I am doubled over. I pray that this is a one shot deal, knowing full well that it is actually the dawn of a really ugly last three hours at work. I cringe at the thought of a hospital bathroom being my solace. "Anywhere but here," I say. "Please God?" (Not that I am counting on God's cooperation in this matter, but I can't exactly pray to Wilfred Brimley, who I believe kind of looks like God.) I wobble back to the unit, where Michael notes my pale face and shaky hands. This? This is not good.
I keep pushing through work. I try to triage a girl that presents for "vomiting for 3 hours," but I find myself wishing I could vomit all over her and say "I would give a million dollars not to be throwing up here right now, yet you show up after 3 hours of puking? Ass." I am hateful, and it presents itself in the form of more vomiting in the teeny tiny bathroom with the very dirty floor.
I prep for the drive home: big pink bucket, towel, nerves of steel. Inevitably, I hit every single red light on my three mile drive. I cry a little; pitiful, fluish girl that I am. I pull into driveway, with a fleeting thought that my house looks very similar to welcoming Buddhist Temple. (It could not be farther from one.) I hit the door shedding coat, scrubs, ID badge and bra as I head for the mecca of my bed. Toss on a nightshirt. Curl into fetal position. Groan. Moan. Stomach cramps. Bathroom. Rest on cool (clean) tile floor. Crawl to bed. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
In between repeats, I ponder. When your stomach hurts, you think about anything else to distract you from how much your stomach hurts. I think about the maker of Zofran and how they should be elevated to Stomach Flu Sainthood. I think about people who have cancer and deal with nausea every single day. I pray for them, because I cannot imagine the hell they go through. I think about, of all things, my Mother. I know, I don't write about her too often and I have my reasons, but sometimes when you are sick you think about your Mom and wish it could be like it was when you were little. My Mother didn't care how sick you were; you got up, sat in the chair and watched as she cracked the window, let in the fresh air and changed your sheets. And when you got into bed again, (in the fresh pajamas she made you put on after she brushed your hair off your face) you suddenly felt like everything just might be OK, after all. I never forget that when I am sick, and I wished, for a minute, that someone would do that for me as I laid there alone.
I sleep the fitful sleep of the flu, grateful for the increasing amount of time between episodes. I dodge a phone call from Nana, because I do not have the strength to yell into the phone so she can hear me. I review my day and try to understand why people would want to be anywhere but in their own home when they have the flu. That one, I leave alone because I will never understand the logic of people who show up in the ER if they have thrown up less than 2 days, let alone 2 hours. Eventually, My Knight in Shining Armour arrives home from work with the only request I ever have when I throw up. Coke Slurpee, never diet, with a little bit of Cherry Fanta Slurpee on top. Slushy heaven in a little green cup. With a blue straw. Always. I don't get better if it's not a blue straw. That's part one of recovery. Part two is Vernors, good old Michigan Made Vernors, and if you don't have it in your parts, I bet your flu/hangover/morning sickness lasts twice as long because Vernors, well Vernors is nectar of the Gods. No other ginger ale measures up. All this hullabaloo from a girl who doesn't drink pop any other time in her life. Isn't that funny? I have no explanation other than it just works.
That first sip of Slurpee after a day of everything going the wrong way in my esophagus makes me think that there might be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of food I have vomited all day long. Holding my breath, hoping, praying it just...stays...in. When it does, I send the creator of Slurpees to the Sainthood Review Board as well. It could be the snowiest, messiest, grayest day on Earth, but when I get my Slurpee, the sunbeams bust through my world like that baby at the end of Teletubbies. I just might survive, after all. I might live to care for the rest of my people when they get my gastro.
A new day arrives, I take those first shaky steps to the fridge to get my Vernors. I make toast. I take my favorite sherpa blanket to the couch and start the count down of days until I can tolerate coffee. I survive.
The Flu. Gastro. Pukefest. Call it whatever you want, but keep the remedy consistent. Slurpees, Vernors, clean sheets, a dash of hope and a lot of self love.