I am a germophobe. I am not ashamed of this, nor am I ashamed to admit that in response to the flu epidemic sweeping the nation, I recently fashioned an 80s “fanny pack” from my middle school days into a Lysol-can wielding holster, using its original zipper pouch to hold a 32-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.
This comes in handy when out and about since I cannot very well sit in my sparkling clean home all of the time. I would be high on bleach fumes, and more importantly, I need to get out to Target at least four times a week.
I wash my hands (if dipping them in pure rubbing alcohol counts as washing), I take my vitamins, I exercise many times per week, and I receive my flu shot each year. Still, I was stricken down last week. All the spray bleach, Clorox wipes and disinfectant spray in the world did not keep me from the dreaded stomach virus.
Somehow, the little buggers permeated what I thought was my impenetrable germ shield I created in and around my home. Apparently, vomit germs trump all others.
I learned a few things during my 36-hour intestinal bout. During a 10 minute jag in which I felt somewhat human, I found myself googling fun facts about the stomach virus. It is often called the stomach flu, but it is not caused by the influenza viruses.
When I somehow managed to dodge the stomach bug even when surrounded by classrooms of elementary-school children who serve as hosts for all things viral and bacterial, I just wrote it off to the flu shot. I guess I was mistaken.
Thankfully, the stomach virus does not have the duration of the regular flu. The stomach virus comes on quick, has its victim chained to the porcelain throne for about 6-8 hours, then leaves behind a trail of aching muscles, a pounding head and a stomach that aches from being cleansed of its last five meals.
I also learned that although 36 hours may not seem like a long time, much havoc can be wreaked upon a home left overseen by a husband and 7 year-old boy. On one of my ventures down the stairs after feeling a tiny bit better, I was welcomed by three open cereal boxes, saltine crackers strewn about, pajamas and underwear on the living room floor, a front hallway bathroom that looked like someone tap danced in mud on the white tile, and a hamper that appeared to belong to a family of 12 rather than our family of three. This sight was almost as bad as the scene in the bathroom just hours before.
My last lesson was more of a reminder about the impact that this little sick day would have on my schedule. As mentioned earlier, many things happened to my home in the short time I spent holed up in my bedroom. Although I insanely spray bleached, Clorox wiped, and Lysol disinfected my bathroom after each stomach wrenching hurl, the rest of the house did not have my obsessive compulsive attention.
Just 36 hours after feeling like death was knocking on my door, I began a two-day cleaning spree in which every linen was washed in hot water and every hard surface was wiped or sprayed until it gleamed. Dog hair promptly got sucked up from the area rugs and corners while bills screamed at me to pay them. Plus I had work to do, like pay-the-bills work that didn’t get done while I was taking a sick day.
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned in all of this is sometimes, even when hugging the john and praying that an intestine doesn’t come up, crawling back into bed and letting someone take care of you is kind of nice. Even if it means you have to clean up after yourself.
A special thank you to hubby for taking care of me, even if the house was about to self-implode.