Tuesdays are Your Turn – The Sick Box

The worst non-respiratory illness in the Asthma Mom family history went a little something like this:

Mr. Asthma Mom came home early from an after-hours work thing one Friday evening because he felt unwell. Sometime in the middle of that night, *unwell* gave way to full-force gastrointestinal symptoms, and those lasted most of the next day. Saturday night found his stomach bug easing somewhat, and he woke up Sunday morning feeling better but also completely emptied out.

If you know what I mean.

That Sunday night, we’re having your typical quiet evening at home with two little kids. Mr. Asthma Mom and an almost four year-old AG are watching a movie. The Steadfast Sidekick, around 10 months-old, is asleep in her crib. All is peaceful until AG stands up and spews – this is literally, now – all over the living room floor.

And then kept on going for the next couple of hours and couldn’t stop. I’m talking less than 5 minutes between vomiting episodes and far, far beyond the point of emptying her stomach. This severity is actually pretty typical for AG, who will experience any illness that hits this family for twice as long as the rest of us and feel twice as bad.

While Mr. Asthma Mom headed to the emergency room with AG, the Steadfast Sidekick woke up in her crib with the same symptoms. Eventually, I ended up with her in the ER, too.

So far this chain of events isn’t all that significant, right? I mean, almost everyone with kids has an emergency room story or five of their own. I grew up as one of four active children in a military family, and my little brother was especially reckless. My mother had visits to the Navy hospital’s ER down to a science and always came armed with reading material, a sweater for the cold waiting room, and a snack for whichever one of us had fallen off the bike (me) or jumped off the top of our backyard playset (little brother) this time.

This story, though, diverges in the emergency room’s bathroom, where I ended up sick as well. Making me virtually worthless to help with the girls, who received anti-nausea medication and I.V.’s for rehydration while I drove home in the middle of the night to huddle on the bathroom floor.

Now remember, Mr. Asthma Mom had just gotten better himself. By the time he brought the girls home near dawn, made sure I wasn’t dying (even if I really, really wanted to), and then ran back out to the store to pick up more ginger ale, he felt just about ready to collapse.

Luckily, the anti-nausea suppositories (another thing many parents have some familiarity with, I think) helped AG and her Sidekick immensely, and all of us more or less slept the entire next day.

During those early years with my daughters, we never thought to put together a Sick Box.

Back when we were talking about H1N1 preparations in August, I wrote about laying in some supplies. And unlike a great many things I only plan to do, this time I actually went out, bought some emergency flu rations, and stuck them all in a large container in the basement.

Because when I’m sick or most of my family is sick, the last thing I have time for is a quick run to the store for GI-sensitive foods or clear liquids.

Also, the concept of an actual box is key, since your family (if it’s anything like mine) will probably eat all that emergency ramen soup unless it’s somewhere out of sight, and you won’t find out it’s gone until you need to make some.

The girls are old enough to get themselves ready for school, and thank God for school buses and online lunch payments, but let me tell you – it was awfully nice to have that box when I got sick at the beginning of this flu season.

For some of you, it’s probably not a revolutionary idea. But while I am fairly analytical and well sorted out in my own head, I am somewhat less than organized in actual life. Preparing a Sick Box represents a fairly major accomplishment in household order for me.

These are its contents:

The Sick Box

Ramen and noodle soups
Ginger ale
Clear juice
Honey lemon cough drops
Electrolyte sports drink powder packets for rehydration
Extra OTC meds for flu and GI viruses*
Masks
Lysol
Applesauce packs
Jello packs
Extra tissue boxes

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a Sick Box of your own? What’s in it?

*Remember that even OTC meds carry expiration dates.

36 responses to “Tuesdays are Your Turn – The Sick Box”

  1. karen says:

    Remember when I said proactive paranoia? The first week of school I went out and got a lot of these items plus staying way ahead on general household supplies like dishwashing soap, laundry soap etc.

    I am wondering what you have for OTC meds for GI virus? I am not familiar with any suppositories? I have some culturelle (probiotic) that I mixed with a little gaterade and gave my son the other day when he had a mild stomach bug but would like to know any other suggestions specifically.

    Not related, I am just bummed I found out my older son can not get the H1N1 shot at school via the county nurse when it is available because of his egg allergy… we have to go thru pediatrician so am hoping they do not have a supply issue.

  2. Gina says:

    We DO have a sick box (well, closet shelf since there are five of us, so it’s a lot of stuff). I recommend having Feverall acetominophen suppositories for the kids. Those were good when swine flu hit my son and he couldn’t get that 104 fever down b/c of the vomiting. I also keep an extra loaf of bread and some mashed potatoes in the freezer at all times; those are good once you have a little appetite back.

    And don’t forget a “vomit kit” for the car–I have a child prone to carsickness so I’ve always needed one. It has Lysol wipes, paper towels, ziplocs for dirty clothes, extra clothes, bottle of water, etc.

  3. Amy says:

    Karen–That’s a good idea, to make sure household stuff is stocked up, too. Detergent is the last thing I want to run out of w/a stomach bug in the house, that’s for sure.

    I keep adults’ and kids’ pepto for GI stuff. It has some anti-nausea effect even though it’s more for stuff like heartburn, but I’ve noticed it helps a little for mild nausea. The suppositories are prescription only, unfortunately. AG’s prone to stomach issues on a good day and gets GI viruses pretty badly, so she’s been prescribed them 2 separate times. (yet she managed to keep the Tamiflu down a couple of weeks ago–go figure)

    Gina–I love the freezer and the car kit tips! Using the freezer for emergency supplies, too, didn’t even occur to me. Thanks for sharing.

    See what I mean? I’m not kidding when I say I lack the preparation gene.

  4. Her Grace says:

    I superstocked our pantry over the spring/summer, when we weren’t sure where this was headed, but in the last few weeks I’ve noticed we’re out of a lot of the things I’d need if we all got sick — soup, gatorade, etc. Figures!

    Thanks for the list. I stocked up on fever reducers but didn’t consider the GI stuff. Also, my preschooler has walked off with the new thermometer. Back to the store tomorrow!

    My best friend and her son are just recovering from this. She spent two days on the couch and is better, but just can’t shake her cough (two weeks now). He had a thick cough and was violently ill (GI). He’s rebounded a lot better than she has.

  5. Roe says:

    When my five were little, I loaded up on paper towels, baby wipes, cleaners/ sanitizers, small plastic grocery bags and paper grocery bags(easy to grab when tummy trouble is imminent), some soft towels to line the sick bed( usually the sofa) and a supply of ginger ale. Also pretzels, saltines and a fresh supply of cinnamon and bread for toasting. I also kept some spare coloring books, puzzles and a new video or two to make their down time a little better to face. Gosh, someone mentioned Pepto Bismo. My mother always had a bottle around and it actually made me feel sick just smelling it! BTW, I wrote earlier this weekend about my little first grade grand-daughters fever-less bout with pneumonia(started 9-26 ) and after being back at school 6 days, she started a stuffy nose and tonight needed a neb treatment. She just finished her pulmocort on Friday! She says there were two kids who vomited in class today…. NOW WE BEGIN AGAIN….!
    Also, my 8 yr old grand-daughter who had regular flumist 5 weeks was to dr today with high fever and eye/head pain and they said could be H1N1. Little bro has fever tonight too. We live 3 hours away and wish I could be there to hold them. Looking forward to SUMMER and better health for the kiddos!

  6. Ang says:

    I do, it’s a plastic box that is oval with a handle. It has EVERYTHING-med-wise-for every illness home-treatable. For asthma we have a backpack. It holds the neb, albuterol, emergency pediapred for both kids, inhaler, mask/chamber, extra peak-flow, etc. This backpack goes everywhere with us. I do mean everywhere. We have had to use it at McDonalds, parties (bbq smoke-bad), and other random places. We are going to buy a converter for our van so we can use the neb there when needed. For whatever reason-perhaps because we live in the dessert and the air is so dry-my kids do better w/ the neb then the inhaler. Our sick box is important-we have everything from zofran to tylenol to cough drops to tweezers to calimine lotion in there-but that backpack is our lifeline and security blanket.

  7. Amy says:

    Her Grace–Thermometer! There’s another thing I forgot–and I can never find my thermometer when I need it. And the cough was pretty bad–AG took approx. 15 days past the first onset of symptoms to be cough-free.

    Roe–I love the new video/new toys idea, too. Hoping your grandkids start feeling better soon & I’m sorry you can’t be with them.

    Ang–Tweezers & calamine are great, too. *sigh* I think I need to write a Sick Box, Pt II post.

  8. Allison says:

    Wow, these are all great ideas. I live 15 miles from town on a dirt road, our first snow just arrived, and my husband just left on a 2.5 week business trip. I definitely need to get my sick box together!! We seem to be H1N1 free up here so far, but I know it’s coming. The school vaccine clinic is scheduled for Oct. 30th. Here’s hoping we get to that date before the H1N1 arrives…

  9. Your sick box idea is just brilliant! I am going to blog about it and create one for my household. You are soooo right on. I know this blog is older, but your concept is spot on.

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  14. AMIEE says:

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