Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hello, Nurse

At 2am this morning, JG woke up shivering and shortly thereafter, he sprinted to the bathroom and was violently ill. I sat halfway up as he staggered back and cranked up the heat. It was a wakeful night for both of us: JG had a routine of being sick every 35 minutes – eerily regular – and I snapped to attention whenever a chill ran through him or he got out of bed. Bile rose in my throat whenever I heard the proceedings and queasiness soon followed. Upon JG’s feeble requests, I fetched a thermometer (slight fever), water, and ice pops, to no avail.

That’s how we ended up, instead of grilling bratwurst in this amazingly warm weather in preparation for the UD vs. William and Mary game, sitting on the couch with College Gameday on TV. JG is huddled up in a blanket with a stainless steel bowl by his side. I ran out to get a fluorescent bottle of Gatorade because we’re both afraid that he’s becoming or already is dehydrated. The sight of food makes JG’s stomach turn and I’m watching him warily, waiting for the next onslaught. His pallor and weakness startle me.

The glossary of symptoms on WebMD unhelpfully turned up everything from the stomach flu to radiation treatment side effects. We make an educated guess that it’s food poisoning; according to the all-knowing Alton Brown, that’s usually the case with a so-called 24-hour bug. A quick search reveals symptoms that are close enough to what JG has, but after I read off the questions, he affirms that he does not have to go to the emergency room. And then I remember that I don’t know what the closest hospital is, and I make a panicked, mental note to figure that out. I think the plan is to try and keep him hydrated and wait out the 48 hours that food poisoning typically takes to clear out.

I feel uneasily useless in this situation. My weak stomach flips and flops at the hint of anything unsightly and I’ve warned JG that it will be very hard for me to clean up after him if he, uh, misses. He’s very understanding, but I’m terribly insufficient for this wife-turned-nurse phase. I’ve found yet another way in which I am too weak of heart to nurse a child; how do parents do it? I can’t even handle this gracefully when my patient is mobile, self-aware, and adept at expressing his symptoms. Gah.

JG’s asleep now. I’ll fix myself some lunch and keep an eye on him.

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