Emetophobics Guide to Surviving Winter Sickness Bugs
As an emetophobic, all I can say is thank god for March. I hate February. When I wrote about how I hate January, I forgot that I hate February just as much. Not because its Valentine’s Day, and not because of Sugar Free February – no – because of the winter sickness bugs. Every February since Erin has been born, we have had a sickness bug in this house. No big deal you may think – but I am an emetophobic – I have a sick phobia – an intense, irrational fear and anxiety pertaining to vomiting.
When I tell people I have a sick phobia, the first thing they respond with is “well no one likes it do they?”, as if to say my fears are completely normal. However, most peoples experiences don’t result in panic stricken, physical manifestations of shakes and shortness of breath.
People often say that a true sign of being a parent is when you run towards the source of vomit rather than run away from it – but not for me! As an emetophobic, there is no worse phrase from your child than “Mummy my tummy hurts”. I don’t drink (for fear of being sick), I had to leave the cinema during Bridesmaids as it made me feel physically ill, and when my children are ill – whilst most mothers would be holding back their children’s hair or providing copious cuddles, I go into OCD cleaning mode, dettol’ing every exposed surface and using anti bac gel to the point where I get blisters on my hands.
Last month, both of my children have been poorly. Erin just had the bottom end (although she did tell me at one point that she was nearly sick but that she swallowed it – nice.) and poor little Neve, at just 5 months old caught it and was vomiting for an entire week. After severe dehydration and a short stay at Birmingham Children’s, we are now back home, and she is slowly (VERY Slowly!) getting back to normal.
Here are my tips for getting through the winter sickness bugs if you are unlucky enough to have them in your house!
- Dettol / Disinfectant – this goes without saying but always ensure you have a decent supply of Dettol (or similar) in the house, as well as disposable cloths to ensure that you can wipe any surfaces that someone has been in contact with. It is good practice to disinfect the kitchen and bathroom regularly anyway, but even more so if someone is poorly in your home.
- Washing – wash all soiled clothes, towels and sheets as soon as physically possible – I was camped out in the lounge with my daughter when she was ill, with towels covering the carpet. If she was unwell on the towels, they went straight in the machine, and were replaced with clean ones. Yes my house was like a laundry but this was the easiest way.
- Handwashing – this goes without saying but wash your hands regularly with hot soapy water and ideally a antibacterial hand gel or handwash. I perhaps have gone a bit overboard with the alcohol based hand gel so you need to be careful here – using too much can actually damage your skin (I have blisters on the back of my hands!)
- Change bed linen if someone has been unwell, even if they look clean, as they will be harbouring germs.
- Get a ‘sick kit’ ready both at home and in the car. I have ready in Erin’s room a sick survival kit – including clean towels, a change of bed linen, and a sick bucket. I also place a clean towel under her sheet so that I can protect her mattress and easily do a quick change in the night if she is unwell in the wee hours. In the car I always have a change of clothes for me and the girls, baby wipes a plenty, and a clean towel. I also have some pull ups in case of poop disasters!
- Ensure you know where the spare sheets and duvet covers are – there is nothing worse than hunting for them in the early hours of the morning.
- Stick to the 48 Hour Rules –this is one I have a really strong view on – I get really annoyed when parents send their children back to school or preschool early because they “seem fine” or because of pressures from their employers. I understand you have paid for nursery, and I understand you have a job to do, but sending your child back before the incubation period is the reason why these germs spread throughout the whole class. You do not know other people’s situations – people may have family members with weak immune systems, going through chemotherapy, or may be pregnant or have a newborn. Think before you act.
- Avoid soft play. This one is personal for me, and I know there are lots that wont agree. I avoid soft play places like the plague. Virtually every time Erin goes to one, she has a sickness bug a week or so later! I now only go to them for birthday parties and even then I dread the week that follows!
- DVDs – Ride it out and get some off the kids favourite films on the box. Chances are they will feel a bit shit for quite a while, so even when the sickness has stopped, lots of snuggles and rest will be required.
- Dry Toast. Ideally with a smiley face toast press makes everything better.
What tips do you have to get through the sickness bugs?