The Sickness

The Bowels Of Hell

02.06.06 | Comment?

Caught the crud last week. As cruds go, this would have been a good one to avoid. It has dual gut action, infecting the upper and lower tracts simultaneously, and sending their contents in both directions. And it came with that always unwelcome ‘swelter’ factor. Apparently it’s been spreading through Fort Worth like it had a good ad campaign: “Gastro-intestinal Fever: Catch It!” If you added the tagline “lose 5 pounds in 3 days!” you could probably make some money.

I thought I had it bad, the discomfort, the sleeplessness, the sweaty desperation. Then, just when I’d thought it was over, came the cramps, the worst I’ve ever felt (and I’m prone to stomach cramps). For a while there it felt like I was birthing an outboard motor. So yeah, I was just miserable.

Then my 2-year-old son got it, and I was like the priest in The Exorcist: “Take me! Come into me!.” No matter how much you hurt, until you’ve had your baby lay his head on his shoulder and felt it burning like a glowing coal, you don’t know pain.

All this was made more difficult because I also had to keep my wife on an even keel. She was understandably concerned, but she’s also prone to believing the worst, to trying to rush the cure, and to fits of panic. So it was hard to keep her on board with the plan, but she pulled through like a trouper.

As did my son. By this morning he was cranky as hell, yelling at his mother and generally acting out. Which was a HUGE improvement over the weekend, when he just lay in bed like he was waiting for the priest (not the one from The Exorcist) to deliver last rites.

And I haven’t even mentioned the trip to the emergency room.

That came at 3AM Saturday. The baby woke up calling for me, so I changed his diaper, bathed his face to cool him off a little, and put him back to bed, then went up to check on my six-year-old daughter, who had been just a little ill.

When I did I found her coughing continually and struggling to speak. When I asked her if she were having trouble breathing, and she replied, “Uh hunh” in a tiny, squeaky, ragged little voice, I made a Command Decision that we were going. That instant, in fact.

I had been in a similar situation when I was seven and had bronchitis. But where my whole upper chest had swollen shut, with her it was just the tissue in her throat. So instead of a week in an oxygen tent, she got a breathing treatment and a trip home in time for breakfast.

Now we’re all feeling a lot better, and maybe I can get a good night’s sleep tonight. But I’m not counting on it.

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