The Emergency Department is never a fun place to spend time. Let alone when it is the night before your proposed honeymoon and your 17 month old is literally heaving and retching all over you as you attempt to give her details to the Triage Nurse.
As I stood there unable to move, and feeling the eyes from all around me watching for my reaction, I realised that in today’s era, a gastro virus is all but the equivalent of leprosy in Biblical times. The Waiting Room parted for me as though I was Noah crossing the Red Sea when the nurse told me to ‘Take a seat’.
I attempted to get Miss L settled and cleaned up. Lisa had been parking the car and, as she walked through the doors, I couldn’t have been more grateful to see her. Cleaning myself and Miss L , I realised, was impossible: I was holding Miss L in one hand and the bucket containing vomit in the other. Letting go of this wasn’t an option as any second she might start heaving once again.
No one, including staff, wanted to be anywhere near us. One kind twentysomething girl grabbed us some napkins as Miss L vomited again and handed them to us. Obviously it was a relatively busy night as we weren’t rushed in to a separate room, and when we were taken through to a second waiting area, we were positioned right next to other poor, sick, elderly people who I am sure would have preferred to be literally anywhere other than seated next to us. Others across the way (a safe distance away) gave us a sympathetic glance as poor Miss L continued to cough and be sick, and doctors and nurses just bustled by, busily attending to other patients.
Thankfully the vomiting had only started at 7pm.
It was now 9:40pm.
We knew that our poor little one was getting more and more dehydrated by the minute as she couldn’t even keep water down. The prospect of her being put on a drip was looming, and we wanted to avoid it, and hospitalisation, at all costs.
The thing about kids being sick is that you never really know how sick they actually are at the time. Their situations can change so quickly. They go like mad until they literally fall in a heap, and by then, they are really sick.
Miss L didn’t have a temperature, nor did she have any real signs before vomiting. She had flushed cheeks, which we attributed to teething. So anyway, the long and the short of it was that eventually we were seen by the doctor, told she had a gastro virus and she was given a wafer to help ease the vomiting. Thankfully once she was given this, she began drinking fluids again. After staff monitored her fluid intake for a couple of hours we were able to take her home.
Miss L had a cough and some upper respiratory congestion at this time, which meant that when she coughed during the night, she retched and vomited again.
Needless to say there wasn’t much sleep had.
Fortunately our little blossom managed to get a decent amount of sleep as she slept most of the morning. But what would we do about our honeymoon? We had a 4 year old to entertain, as there was no way that he wanted to sleep the day away, as we did, and we had paid for our accommodation at the Sunshine Coast. A phone call to the resort confirmed that it was at this late stage, non-refundable. Lisa and I were tired, stressed and torn and although we knew we wanted to keep the kids with us, we didn’t want to waste our money and lose our coastal accommodation.
Most gastro bugs I’ve dealt with in the past tended to dissipate within 24-48 hours – that is the only good thing generally about them – they tend to be short and sharp. So we decided since Miss L had woken up chirpy and happy, that we would take the kids for a change of scenery and just have a quiet few days there with them until Miss L was fully better, at which time Lisa’s parents, Rob and Judy, would come and collect them.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Miss L ended up with terrible diarrhoea, Lisa and I ended up contracting the virus, and Master C was a high maintenance ball of energy who simply wanted to spend the entire time in the pool.
Feeling sick as a dog is hellish at the best of times, without adding the guilt of literally wanting to swat your four year old like a fly, simply for being the typical hard work of a four year old ‘energiser bunny’ at the beach. I’m pretty sure both Lis and I would have paid a thousand dollars that day, for someone to simply come and take the kids away so we could sleep – it was just a hideous bug and sleep was all we felt we could manage. Master C spent a LOT of time that day kicking around in a spa sized bubble bath, watching TV and playing the IPad. He couldn’t believe his luck.
The reality of the situation is that ultimately when you are a parent, you can never, ever truly be ‘off duty’. Even though we were disappointed at not getting our week away on our own – there is no way in the world we would have been anywhere else than with our little one when she needed us.