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
Honey lemon cough drops
Electrolyte sports drink powder packets for rehydration
Extra OTC meds for flu and GI viruses*
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.