When vacations go bad: tales of a toxic trip
TMI warning: do not read if you cannot handle human bodily functions.
I need to get the toxins from this last “vacation” out of my system. So as a sit in the bath, trying to wash away the memories of the last few days, I decided that the best way to do that was to put it all out into cyberspace.
With only a week left until we move into our new home, the three boys and I ventured off on a “family vacation.” It was only a family vacation because we were traveling back to our previous habitat in the desert to meet up with family that still live there and more family that were coming in from out of town. Our family, however, was not complete because my husband stayed behind to work and we would not have chosen this location for our vacation had it been a true family vacation. Of course, after the events of the past few days, I’m not sure any of us will choose this location as a vacation destination again.
The trip started off beautifully, a little over a week ago. All three boys behaved nicely on the airplane back to the desert. The fact that the boys behaved so well on our first flight without Dad since the third son was born should have been the first sign that something was amiss and that I would pay later. Upon arriving in the desert, the two youngest and my sinuses instantly flared with allergies that we thought we had left long behind. Our skin began to shrivel and dry as if we were never once accustomed to the desert climate. Noses ran like faucets, throat stung like cacti, and hacking coughs sounded throughout the night like a coyote’s howl. Yet we sallied forth knowing that they were only allergies and could not keep us from the once a year rendezvoused we had with our cousins. Everyone was getting along. Sure there were the usual family squabbles; grandparents becoming overwrought with too many grandchildren in their house at once, siblings razzing siblings, arguments over who had dibs on the next margarita out of the blender; but everything was going well. that’s when the second omen occurred. It snowed in the desert (or at least in all the surrounding towns but where we were). Not quite as biblical as raining frogs, but we’re talking about a place where the slightest bit of rain garners breaking news updates as if it were the hurricane of the century, so snow is kind of a big deal. That’s when I made, what I believe to be, my crucial mistake; we went to the kid pit at the mall. We didn’t stay long, but I forgot to bathe my children in sanitizer when we were finished and then fed them a snack. After that, things took a real turn for the worse.
My kids went to sleep relatively easily (which I should have taken as sign #3), so I thought that I’d actually get to hang out and have drinks with my siblings. By 9:00, my middle child woke up very unhappy. I went into him just in time to move him away from the mattress that his two other brothers slept on before he vomited all over me and himself. I quickly moved him to the bathroom where he vomited more before I could get him near the toilet. I screamed for help, unsure if he got it on either of his brothers or had woken them, and waited an eternity for my befuddled mother to come in to help. Apparently once you get your kids through childhood, you don’t deal much with other people puking and begin to lose that quick response and sense of know-how that parents of young children seem to have. So I began barking orders like a drill Sargent while quietly praying between breaths that it was just food poisoning. Once we thought he was done, I changed both our sets of clothing and brought him out to the greatroom area (living/dining room combo for those of you unfamiliar) and began trying to figure out what to do about sleeping arrangements. That’s about when he projectile vomited all over the floor and us again. My dear old dad didn’t miss a beat, he looked over at the mess and promptly turned up the volume on the crime drama he was watching. Some shuffling of sleeping arrangements was done (thanks to my sister), more silent prayers were said, and I took my two youngest to bed with a puke bucket in hand. A few hours later, we did a similar song and dance. My mom came in to help, this time with her “puking child” wits about her, and for good reason. Apparently she had already dealt with my oldest puking all over himself as he sleep in her room several times. I still secretly held out hope of food poisoning since the two of them shared the same thing for dinner, but even more secretly, I was trying to keep down the possible reality of the situation along with my own dinner. Fast forward several restless and sometimes puke filled hours later to late the next morning. I was roused from my second attempt at sleeping by my middle child spewing strawberries slices in the hallway and my youngest reacting with an incredibly scared shriek. I then receive confirmation that it was not food poisoning. My poor youngest niece had puked in the car on the way to breakfast, while sitting in the restaurant during breakfast, and then again on the way home from breakfast. After another change job, I take my son and the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach back to bed. Fast forward a few more hours and it is my turn with the puke bucket. Back to sleep again and I awake to an empty bed and voices from the next room asking my middle son if he is okay and my niece saying “I think he’s going to puke again.” I scramble to get out of bed as I hear my son puking across the room in what feels more like a museum of things kids shouldn’t touch than a living room. Now where exactly the puke landed, I will not say in case my mother reads this, but I will say thank god for my sister and her powers of cleaning. It is a good thing that my parents are old and therefor slow when they go out to the store (I love you mom). That day was topped of with yet another of the clan following victim to the stomach virus from hell when my oldest niece took to the puke bucket.
The next day we thought we were all on the mend. My oldest niece was still weak, but had stopped puking. So we all headed off to the zoo with multiple strollers for puke weakened children. Sure, not the best idea, but it was our last day in town and we had more family to meet up with. It was a tiring excursion, but no major problems. On the drive home my two youngest fell asleep. When we got to the house, my middle child wanted to continue sleeping, but instead, wandered around the house until after everyone was bathed and then threw up all over us both again. I treaded lightly with him that night, fearful because the next day was our flight home. He ended up being okay, despite a few scary moments, but my nephew then started throwing up, as well as having it come out the other end, all over the bed. Him seemed better by this morning, but then it was my brother-in-laws turn, only hours before a six hour flight with a layover. I don’t think any of us could get out of there fast enough. With only the memory of the last few days, I’m not sure any of us ever want to go back. My middle child is so traumatized that he now associates Nana’s house with throwing up.
By some miracle, we all made it to our final destinations without incident. My sister texted me that they had gotten home okay, but now she was feeling sick. I breathed a sigh of relief that it seemed to be done for at least my family. Ten minutes after my sister’s text, while my husband was at the store, I hear my oldest yell to me from the bathroom “Mom, I pooped myself.” This is when we get the shit cherry on the puke sundae. I go into to find that not only had he pooped his pants, but he must have tried to take his pants off after making this discovery. There was poop everywhere, all over the freshly cleaned bathroom. Not to be overly graphic, but it was in his underwear, on his jeans, his socks, all down his legs, on the floor, and all over the white towel. My stomach was just starting to feel better, but was still a little queasy after lunch today, and this did not help the cause. I began to retch as I attempted to clean it up and end up running for the other bathroom before getting very far. I called my husband frantic, praying that he was close, but he wasn’t close enough. So I ventured in again, trying to come up for air frequent enough that I didn’t puke all over my son. Despite this tactic, I was overtaken again and ran for the other bathroom only to find my 3 year old pooping on that toilet. Luckily I managed to keep myself from puking all over the only other bathroom and my husband finally showed up.
So now the kids are bathed and I am too and I really hope that this is truly over. Hopefully neither one for my parents end up with it and if my sister does get it, it moves quickly. I think we all just need to have a little selective amnesia and forget this toxic trip, or at least the last half of it. I say instead of meeting at my parent’s house for our annual family vacation next year, we take a real vacation and meet at an all inclusive resort where the only reason someone might get sick is from too many drinks, not that that’s any fun when you are parenting, but that’s a story for another time.