Seems there’s a strong strain of Gastro hitting the suburbs again and taking down entire families so I thought I’d repost this post to help the uninitiated.


RD’s Gastro Survival Guide

gastro_childDid that just happen? Was that a dream? How did I lose three kilos and why are there no clean sheets in the house? Why are there so many buckets in the lounge room? Did I really see a vulture perched on the plasma? Desert birds circling overhead?

It was tough. I’ve heard all the stories about the horrors of an illness hitting the entire family but this is the first time it’s happened to us. I sincerely hope that this is the last time I ever post about this horrid illness.

I was pretty confident of avoiding the gastro bug when Lewis first started showing symptoms. Then it moved on to Reservoir Mum and Archie but, hey, I was washing my hands all the time, spraying the toilet seat with disinfectant, only breathing through my nose and wearing an AFL approved wet-weather poncho. I thought I had it covered.

I’m convinced now that children have the ability to simply look in your direction and subliminally sicken you. If I was a germ looking to populate my community I’d build my first commune in the body of a toddler and then take over the world.

Anyway, based on my first full family illness I have come up with 5 survival tips.

1. Send the kids to the grandparents.

Jesus, if you have this option, stop reading. Get the kids there ASAP. Sure you might be passing on a potentially serious illness but they can afford to lie around all day vomiting. What else have retirees got to do? Just tell them that they just might possibly laugh about it later. Plus, if they survive, they’ll have a great story to tell their… great grandchildren one day.

2. Try not to change too many nappies.

When you’re as ill as we were this past week, even the smell of lavender in a freshly cleaned pillow case can get your stomach churning. So a dirty nappy? Yikes. I tried plugging my nose, holding my breath, changing Lewis from afar with very long tongs, all to no avail.

My suggestion? Disposable nappies are pretty sturdy these days. Stick a well-fitting one on first. Then put a larger one over the top. Finally, cover your child in Cling Wrap from the knees to the bellybutton and change him once a day.

(Generally poo is not such a big issue for me but, jeez, we can put men on the moon, map the genetic code, clone a fricken sheep but still haven’t come up with a cure for the common baby crap.

Here are some suggestions for all you scientists out there. How about a pill that evaporates human waste inside the gut? A nappy that reaches a certain weight before falling off and dissolving? Genetically modified shitless babies… Now there’s a Nobel Prize winner for ya!)

3. Try not to waste any energy talking to your spouse.

I only say this because there really is no point. The exhaustion that accompanies gastro is so complete and overwhelming that it short circuits the brain and makes complete sentences impossible.

Somewhere in the nightmare that was our past week I remember the odd crazied mumbling. There were two standouts. We had been mindlessly watching an Olympic Games baseball match. Reservoir Mum came up with this gem: “Hey look, the boases are laded.” And while trying to come up with an easy way to get the kids dinner without getting off the couch I suggested “Hiring a Pizza.” Yeah, an over-nighter or a weekly?

4. Cry pathetically

GastroBoyLike a lot of men I struggle with the idea of crying in public. So make sure you are indoors with only family members present. It’s amazing how sobbing miserably can give you that tiny bit of extra energy to get things done. This is how I managed to get off the lounge room floor, change the boy’s beds and get the spew-ridden sheets into the washing machine.

Feel free to throw in some pathetic mumbling as you stumble about. Choose from:

This can’t be happening. This – Can’t – Be – Happening!”

I’m scared of dyin’ Ma…

I can’t feel my legs! (The much loved classic)

5. Spew and Learn

Kids hate to spew as much as we do. Inevitably, helping your child through the experience is going to bring you back to ChuckLand so do what I did and spew first. Then try to instill a sense of appreciation for life in your child by teaching them that things are never as bad as they seem. After putting my fingers down my throat and spending two minutes in an eye-bulging, gut-burning vomit that left me only a few blips of blood pressure away from a stroke, I turned casually to Archie and said, ‘Now, some species feed their children like this…

Hmmm, after reading over these points I realize they are probably not that helpful, apart from Tip 1. It’s been a while since I’ve had a full meal though so don’t be too critical. I think it’s finally time to hire that Pizza. I heard there’s a new thriller out with Angelina Jolie. Sounds tasty.