Eat For Two

This week I had norovirus. It’s a highly contagious intestinal version of a cold, marked by headache, body aches, fever, nausea, and other intestinal distress. While my first day consisted of “other intestinal distress,” about twelve hours later was when the nausea started. My husband banished me to sleep on the sofa because he had to go to bed and I couldn’t sleep, not to mention that he’s not vaccinated against norovirus.

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Aubrey was wonderful and brought me ginger ale, covered me up, watched Project Runway with me, and kept me company until I sent her to bed. Before she left the room, though, I thanked her for taking care of me, and she said she knows just how it feels to be sick and not able to get up. I said I worry that she’ll get this nasty bug, because she lost so much weight (even 5 lbs is 5% of her body weight) when she had the flu two weeks ago. That got us talking about the current whooping cough epidemic and how I’m so glad her vaccinations are current. Then I told her about remembering sitting in the bathroom with Matt for hours with the hot water running in the shower, just so he could breathe. He was about four years old at the time.

This, of course, led us down memory lane to when I was terrified that she was going to die from pneumonia when she was 18 months old. Up until she was 17 months old, she was a happy, chubby, waddling toddler with a round face and pink cheeks…until she came down with rotavirus. Within days, she’d lost so much weight, she went down a size in diapers. Two weeks after finally recovering from the rotavirus, she got RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) which turned quickly into pneumonia.

I remember waking up that night to her coughing because it sounded weird…more wheezy than it had. In that particular house, my bedroom was an added on porch, but no one ever bothered to wall in the original bedroom that overlooked it, so there was a glass door and a large window with no glass in our common wall. Thank goodness, because I might not have heard her, otherwise.

I immediately took her in the bathroom and turned on the hot water, but even the steam wasn’t helping. Idiotically, I waited until 8:30 am so I could call her pediatrician instead of taking her to the ER. We didn’t have insurance, and her father didn’t want to deal with the massive ER charges. Meanwhile, I watched as her lips and fingernails began to get a bluish tint, which I knew meant she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Of course, as soon as I called the pediatrician, they told me to take her to the hospital IMMEDIATELY.

Once we were there, they rushed her to the back and gave her a ventolin breathing treatment and oxygen. Eventually she pinked back up, and after giving us a prescription for antibiotics, they sent her home since she was stable. It took her weeks before she was really better, and she lost all of her baby fat. She never gained it back, and it was years before she became her bubbly, vibrant self again.

I always worry about her lack of extraneous body fat. She is all muscle, so she won’t immediately starve, but I would still feel better if she had even a tiny fat store. Most women (even I am guilty) joke how lovely it would be to eat all they want and never gain an ounce. I know that Aubrey wishes she would gain even a little weight. Lately she’s been wolfing down half a pound of cheese a day in an effort to gain, but until ice cream weather rolls around (which is April down here), she can’t possibly eat enough calories, and it’s too cold for Sonic slushies, so even her normal caloric filler is out. She is the only person I know who actually NEEDS to eat candy bars. For anyone who is thinking that maybe protein would be better, she has steak every night that she works, usually filet mignon or picahna, which has a high amount of fat.

People always tell her to enjoy it while she can, because her metabolism will change, but her father’s side are all skinny, including her paternal grandmother. She’s looking forward to it slowing down because then she might be able to dress in women’s clothes instead of kid’s clothes. I don’t know how her body will react to being pregnant (in the far distant future). I remember my sister-in-law didn’t show until her last month, whereas I was huge at six weeks with Matt, and at three months with Aubrey.

Meanwhile, all I can do is minimize her chance of getting norovirus by reminding her and Ron to wash their hands, and by washing my hands as much as possible. I didn’t cook for the three days I was sick, or for the two days after it, either. It seems like it may have passed through our house with Ron and Aubrey unscathed, mainly because I am a major germaphobe and wash my hands constantly. I can only hope.

“Breathe for two…”


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