Being sick is the pits. Nobody likes getting sick. But there are times in our lives when we are more concerned about it than other times. When I was younger I used to dread getting sick before music competitions or performances, knowing my sound would inevitably suffer. I was in a tizzy before my December honeymoon to Florida, washing my hands and holding my breath, wanting to be able to enjoy the warm weather without being burdened by the sniffles. (I didn’t get sick before I went but I did get sick before coming back, and now I can add “before flying” to the list of times I really don’t want to be sick.) And after my daughter was born in mid-September, I worried about either one of us getting sick, making an already difficult time even more difficult. She did not get sick until recently, just shy of her 5th month birthday. A few extra dirty diapers and an attitude only slightly less chipper than her normal demeanor were our only clues that she might not be feeling well and I was only mildly concerned until I saw what this bug had in store for the rest of us.
My husband and I aren’t a terribly sick couple. Neither of us works in the health care field where germs are most prevalent (I’ve always said I would have made a great doctor, were it not for my general hatred of people and crippling fear of germs) and until recently, we were not around small children. I get a seasonal cold here and there, though I am occasionally lucky enough to skip a season – or an entire year – without succumbing. But I always dread the flu. The dreaded flu. I can count vomiting among one of my top phobias, as until last week it had been nearly 20 years since I had done so. (This long streak is what prevents me from accepting a flu shot…don’t want anything screwing up my record. It’s bizarre logic, I know.) My mom fell ill last week and called to warn me, as she had visited me and the baby earlier in the day. Hours later I was sick too, and the next day my husband and my father were also sick. Turns out we were victims of the fast-acting, highly-contagious norovirus, the same bug that took down over 200 people at a cheerleading convention in Everett. The norovirus is not the flu, and since all four of us had eaten together a day earlier, we thought we had food poisoning. This is apparently the virus’s MO – to fool its victims into thinking they have been poisoned. Symptoms were short-lived but awful, made all the more so by the fact that I had to postpone our annual games party. Not only was I disappointed for myself, I felt bad about disrupting other people’s schedules on such short notice.
After being sick one generally gets some immunity from the bug, but my folks informed me the norovirus immunity was short-lived and the only thing that kills it is bleach. This sent me off the OCD deep-end, and had me bleaching counters and toilets and buying, for the first time in my life, Lysol disinfectant spray – brand III – kills norovirus! I was eventually talked down off the ledge by a friend who told me his family gets it every year and they have never been reinfected right away.
Every thing has since returned to normal. My daughter is eating better, everyone else recovered and while thoughts of contagion still weigh heavily on my mind, except for some excessive hand-washing, I am doing okay. The party has been rescheduled and we all survived baby’s first illness. Yet I am quite sure that every year from now on, I will be dreading getting sick before the games party. Plus that 20 year non-vomiting streak is now at a much less impressive one week.