Life, Interrupted

(If you have a weak stomach, you may just want to skip this one.  You have been warned.)

There is an old saying along the lines that “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”  Boy howdy.  While we were making Christmas plans, Life decided to happen all over us.

You’ve noticed that I have basically neglected the old blog about to death lately, and especially during the holidays.  Therein lies a tale, and there are, believe it or not, some lessons to be drawn from it.  Nothing earth shaking, but still, we should always examine our lives, if nothing else in order to help keep ourselves from repeating our mistakes.

It’s been long noted at the Freehold that it isn’t Christmas if someone isn’t sick.  Well, this was a banner year for Christmas.  Mrs. Freeholder lead it off the Saturday before Christmas with an epic gastro bug–we’re talking projectile everything.  Bad enough that you start losing control of certain muscles that are supposed to control such things.  Thank heaven for vinyl flooring in the bathroom.

Not being a fool, I gloved up and masked up before I started to clean up.  Everything was double bagged and I followed the best protocol I knew to make sure I didn’t get anything on me.  We don’t keep specific disinfecting products on hand (Mistake #1), so I had to invent my own, based on bleach.  Perhaps it worked, perhaps not.

Mrs. Freeholder was in a bad way.  She was dehydrating fast.  A simple sip of water would bring up 10x as much liquid from her stomach, and similar goings on were happening elsewhere.  (I’m trying not to be totally gross, but this was a totally gross situation.)

Mistake #2 was not having a supply of incontinence pads.  Yes, you can cook up a field expedient version, but trust me, you really would rather be able to just bag it all up and throw it away.  It makes for easier infection control.

Mistake #3 is that you will go through far more medical supplies far faster than you expect, even if you know this and have laid in extra medical supplies.  Not a problem when the stores are open and you have extra hands to send out for the stuff you need, but it sucks at 2 AM when everything is closed.

I was concerned about Mrs. Freeholder’s level of dehydration.  She was starting to fail the pinch test and refusing hydration.  However, she had also dosed herself with Imodium (something of which I don’t generally approve but at this point was willing to go with) and had mostly stopped running to the toilet and vomiting.  Her mucous membranes were still OK and it was very late, well into the time where an ER visit is an interesting undertaking in it’s own way.  The decision was to let her sleep a few hours and see how she was later in the morning.

As luck would have it, by later that morning she was able to keep down sips, then swallows and then glasses of clear liquids.  Water, watered-down Gatorade and Sprite were the order of the day.  By Monday, she was doing much better, and able to eat a bit.

This was a Good Thing, because by Monday, I had it.  At least I learned a thing or two and managed not to make any big messes.  But OMG, this was a nasty bug.  You lose fluid by the quart, and in a hurry.  The dehydration set off a migraine, so in the midst of this, I’m puking my guts out (I swear, I saw stuff I ate last month) and I can’t take anything for the migraine.  This is a new level of embracing the suck.

Luckily, we’re in operating hours for the pharmacy, so Daughter goes for Emetrol, an anti-nausea agent.  I puked that up.  I puke up everything that goes down.  If it stays down, my digestive system is a straight pipe and it comes out the other end.  Now I’m failing the pinch test.  The doc-in-a-box is closed and the only choice is an ER visit.  I decide the answer to that is “No”.  I follow my wife’s methodology and stop drinking and try to get some rest until morning.  Mistake #4.

Unfortunately for me, it didn’t work.  Through the night, every couple of hours, it’s blargh time.  I just keep trying to give it something to work with.  Better to have something to throw up than get the dry heaves.  The other end deals with any leftovers.

Sunrise finds me in pretty pathetic shape.  I managed to get somewhat dressed (jammie pants and a jacket) and have to be walked to the car so I can be driven to to the doc-in-a-box.  (Have I mentioned I have a thing about ERs?  Well, I do.  I don’t like the damn things.)

The doc give me a good look, does a quick test for flu (negative), and tells me that this stuff is all over the area.  I am dehydrated but not quite so bad that I need to go to the ER.  A prescription for ondansetron sub-lingual tabs and a raft of instructions on rehydrating and what to do if anything didn’t work correctly in the next 12 hours, and I went home and slept the rest of Tuesday away, with breaks when I was woken up and made to drink.  I don’t think I urinated that day until late evening.

Yeah, Christmas was great.  I actually was able to eat some solid food by then.  Yay me.

After Christmas, it was Daughter’s turn to find an upper respiratory.  Also not the flu, as I write this she is still feeling the after effects.  This one is also making the rounds around our area.  Thankfully no one else has picked it up.

The only person who didn’t get an extra Christmas gift was Son.  No one is sure how that happened.  He is simply grateful.

At this time we are all back to our normal pursuits, at least as best we can.  We are taking precautions to be as sure as we can that we pick up no more bugs.  The flu that is in the area is a killer for real.  Over 30 people died in North Carolina over the holidays from complications of having the flu.

I have obtained a supply of incontinence pads and disinfecting wipes (which can double as actual sanitizing wipes if used correctly).  I was able to save a few of the ondansetron tabs.  I’m trying to figure out any other things I can do, but there is a limit to what one can do without advanced medical training and access to prescription drugs.

Situations such as this point out just how bad things can/will get if we will have a prolonged grid-down situation.  In the less-developed parts of the world, people die from diarrhea every day.  And while I have at least a half-dozen recipes for oral rehydration solutions and the stuff to make them, they don’t do a bit of good it you can’t get them in the patient and keep them there.  Even the Patriot Nurse‘s Medical Prep 101 class that Daughter and I took, which introduced us to the concept of rectal rehydration, wouldn’t have worked in this situation.

Yeah, this gives you something to think about, alright.

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