The stomach bug anxiety
I'm no stranger to throwing up. I spent 9 whole months doing it multiple times daily while I was pregnant with my youngest son. And yet, even though you could say I'm somewhat of a pro at it, I find the process of being sick one of the worst things ever in life.
I'm not sure there is anyone out there who would say “yay, I love it when my family gets a sick bug!”, but, it's actually one of my worst anxiety triggers. When I hear of kids at school off with a sick bug or friends who I've come into contact with fall ill with it - I literally want to lock myself and my family away until there is no more risk of it getting to us. Funny that I would actually happily wear the mask and gloves (and full body suit) to avoid a norovirus case, whilst the fear of catching Covid has never really bothered me at all.
Stomach bugs are part of life, rarely fatal, and usually go away after a few days. So, I know maybe I shouldn't let them scare me so much, however, it’s just the whole process of it - the prospect of the stomach bug, the first projectile vomit, the diarrhea, the cleaning, the bed changing, the night spent hugging the toilet, those wrenching stomach pains, the dry mouth, the trying to stop the bug from spreading, the time off school, and work, the staying home until we are not contagious. I become seriously stressed and unhappy - not even feeling better at the prospect of finishing up with a flatter tummy and being a couple of kgs lighter. After all, we know that 2kg seems to stack back on as soon as we manage to keep down our first slice of buttered toast.
When we all came down with a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago, all the usual feelings and anxieties started to surface as the bug spread. My youngest son started first just two days before the end of the summer term. Then I followed suit, embarrassingly smack bang in the middle of a family wedding celebration. My eldest son then started days later and finally my husband succame to the toilet torture.
The worst thing when the whole family comes down with a bug is that you literally can't take time to rest and look after yourself like you need to. Instead, I found myself comforting children, stripping beds, supplying endless glasses of water, wielding a cloth and bleach, and cleaning surfaces, and the toilet. It’s not a fun place to be, dealing with a stomach bug and your mind going haywire. It’s hard to explain, and like many aspects of health anxiety, doesn’t seem logical to someone who hasn’t struggled with issues around anxiety.
Also - I feel unable to offer any kind of advice when it comes to what to eat, drink or take to make yourselves feel marginally better. We tried ginger tablets and charcoal tablets to try and settle our stomachs and lessen the nausea, and then Andrew's salts and Lucozade to try and re-gain our energy back days later. However, I can't say that anything truly helped. I even let the kids have a Coca-cola as weirdly I feel like having a good burp after a Coke is a short-term win that you need to experience after such a traumatic few days!
As a parent, I know I have to deal with stomach bugs, and I know they will come again. But, wouldn't it be amazing if there was a miracle sure to stop them so we never had another!! Until then, I will just be here, trying to avoid you until I know you're 100% norovirus free!
It has been helpful to know, however, that I am not alone though in my sickness weirdness, as I know many people who feel the same.
Here's sending out a huge (air) hug to any family who is suffering from the bug right now. Try and rest as much as you can, sip water at regular intervals, and just try to repeat to yourself "this will pass" because I promise you, it will.