Discover more from Evil Witches Newsletter
A survival kit for the flupocalypse
by Kim Bosch
This valuable seasonal resource comes from our early Wix days:
The other day I was in a cafeteria, waiting for my food with my two-year old. The place was packed with families. Right in the middle of it all I spotted a kid, standing up on his booster seat above the crowd. He was distressed, but no one was paying attention to him. And then it came. Vomit ejected from his mouth like a low-pressure fountain. Waves of sick splattered onto the tables, floor, plates and spoons, toys and bags. Instinctually, I picked up my kid like I was fleeing hot lava and got the heck out of there.
Because I could tell this wasn’t your regular barf. It was norovirus (aka. gastro, aka stomach flu), the kind of sickness that presents itself suddenly, usually with bad diarrhea and vomiting, and occasionally a low-grade fever and body aches. We had lost five days to it last March, first me, then my kid, then my husband. It was the kind of flu where you asked God why with your head in the toilet.
Because norovirus is so contagious, you can't call the grandparents or nanny to help out. You gotta go on lock down. When my family caught the bug last year, I found myself wholly unprepared, stinking of death and barely alive, reading the labels on sanitizing wipes at the grocery store. So before you or someone in your family starts calling for Huey and Ralph, I suggest you do what I’ve done for 2019 and create your very own gastro preparedness kit.
Here’s some suggestions for your barf bag:
Extra linens and towels (the thicker the better) old sheets (fitted ones are especially great for over couches). Put them everywhere barfing may occur.
Flat bottom buckets – This is key for two reasons:
1) You don’t want to be cleaning chunks out of the crevices of fanciful sand castle building buckets 2) you don’t want something like a salad bowl with a rounded bottom filled with throw up to tip. Have one for every family member in case it’s every person/bucket for themselves and if toilets are…being used otherwise.
Pedialyte freeze pops – when the first person starts talking to the bowl, throw these in the freezer. For babies, try doing what my wise friend JW suggests and dip a washcloth corner into the traditional liquid version and let them suckle away.
Gatorade – Remember when you used to barf from fun things like drinking all night? Well this old standard for electrolyte replenishing works for gastro, too. Mix it with water to make the Mango Extreamo flavor a little less intense.
Rubber gloves, masks and even goggles - this seems excessive, but it’s really not when you consider this fact from a recent NYT article that it “it takes only about 20 viral particles to make a person sick. Yet one tablespoon of vomit contains a whopping 15 million viruses.” So cover your crevasses, people!
OTC Anti-nausea medication - If you can keep it down for 30 minutes, that's great and means it’s doing its work. If you barf it back up within 15 minutes, try again later when you feel a little more intestinally confident.
Bleach cleaner – What’s most cruel about norovirus is its ability to come back again and again like some sort of disgusting boomerang (barferang?). It can live on surfaces for several weeks, which is why you have to clean the crap out of your house. And not that vinegar and water hippy kind of clean. Get wipes that kill everything like these. An all-purpose bleach cleaner works, too. This is a good one, but good old skull and crossbones Clorox with a bit of water will also do nicely.
Heavy duty dishwasher soap - Yep, these germs can outlast an extra hot wash if you don't use a strong cleaner with bleach. Skip the “natural alternatives” and go for the strong stuff.
Lysol laundry additive – Add this to your regular soap for a deeper, you guessed it, bleach clean. And as another wise witch told me, “don't forget to remove the barf chunks before you wash!”
Can of peaches – Witch Elizabeth (from Vol. 1) recommended this to me and it worked like a charm. The juice acts as a gauge of whether things are staying down and also coats the stomach. Kids like it because it’s basically just sugar water with the promise that summer will be here again before we know it.
Instant noodles– Once you’ve managed to keep down some sweet peach, switch it up for a salty broth. I’m Canadian, so I love Mr. Noodles. They are cheap and so damn easy to make, plus they have a long shelf life.
One crafty witch I know created a barfing station (air mattress, waterproof tablecloths on the floor, bucket and old blankets) on which to park kids in front of the TV.
If you haven’t done this already, I suggest you layer your child’s bedsheets (this is the single best piece of witch parenting advice I’ve received, from none other than HWIC Claire). Do this now unless you feel like changing sheets at 3 AM while your child sobs.
If you want to be especially proactive, get some prescription anti-nausea medication Zofran from your doctor ahead of time. It cuts down the amount of barfing exponentially.
Few things feel worse than a bad case of stomach virus, but with this kit, even if you’re doing the technicolor yawn, you’ll feel a vague sense of accomplishment.