Going Viral

Oh Man. Friends fault The Wife and I for being too leery of sick children. We avoid them like they’re Magic Johnson running the lane with a nosebleed. I wouldn’t say we’re germophobes. But shouldn’t visibly sick kids be quarantined? It’s not like they have jobs to go to.

New York City parents are faced with an added Catch-22. Apartments are cramped, so active babies quickly get bored and fidgety. But venturing out to where kids cluster can be risky. As a vector for disease, our teeming metropolis rivals Calcutta.

Our 16 month-old can’t seem to catch a break. One week it’s a cold. Then an ear-infection. Next it was hand-foot-and-mouth disease (which I somehow confused with both hoof-and-mouth and mad cow disease. I thought we’d have to incinerate him to protect our nation’s cattle. Thank you, WebMD.)

Some parents insist it’s good for kids to get sick, because it supposedly builds up their immunity. I have two things to say to that, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman:

1. After decades of getting sick, we adults have not developed any magical immunities.

2. I forgot the second thing. But isn’t #1 compelling?

Last weekend Fox came down with the norovirus, which is also called gastroenteritis, and more commonly known as stomach flu. But my favorite nom de guerre is

Winter Vomiting Disease

A name like that wants big letters. Symptoms include nausea, throwing up, vomiting, and regurgitation. Also vomiting. (Forgive me, but we’re a bit traumatized here. Our son was so pukey that The Wife spent two straight days as a human vomitorium.)

Other symptoms are fever and diarrhea. Would you like fries with that? The incubation period is usually 1-2 days, with symptoms lasting just as long. While there is no specific treatment, it’s recommended that you rest and drink plenty of water. People are still contagious for at least 2-3 days after feeling better.

Why the sudden need to inform? Because norovirus has recently hit New York. Hard, like calculus. Go ahead, ask anyone.

When our son is sick, The Wife and I revert to a division of labor along gender lines. I run around the neighborhood acquiring supplies (hunter-gatherer). She makes herself available to be vomited upon (nurturing). When our son is queasy, he’s like a heat-seeking missile. Or maybe more like a projectile missile. No wait… a heat-seeking projectile-vomiting missile. That’s it exactly.

The truth is, we men are pretty useless in caring for sick kids. They all want their mommies, praise be to Allah. But there are a few things we can do to lesson the burden on moms. For maximum effect, I suggest doing them very conspicuously.

1. To stave off dehydration, run out and get some Pedialyte. Be sure and procure the age-appropriate formulation for your baby or toddler. The taste is somewhat improved over past recipes, but buy the smallest possible portions in the event your kid rejects it. And if that is the case, encourage your kid to take small, frequent sips of water.

If your baby refuses water, you can flavor it with a little white grape juice. (Apple juice is too sugary and may exacerbate [I hate to even type this word] diarrhea.) It’s okay for babies to lose their appetites while sick, but a dehydrated baby means a trip to the hospital for intravenous fluids. Not cool.

2. If you have a pukey baby, you can place towels strategically around your home. They’re good for catching or, failing that, cleaning up the vom. For bigger kids sleeping in beds, leave a pail nearby. Pro Tip: Leave one by your bed too, because kids often end up there seeking comfort.

3. Administer a chill pill: draw your wife a bath. Holy crap do chicks like baths. Not only are they relaxing, but it’ll wash off the vom. Follow that up with a foot massage, and you can take the rest of the night off to pursue more serious endeavors like SportsCenter, craft beer, and porn.

Before you know it your kid’ll be keeping her food down, the laundry is done, and the whiff of sickness has dissipated. Just in time for you to feel that first intestinal pang…

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