The 2 words that might sound terrifyingly familiar in your household: Gastro Outbreak.
The thought alone puts any parent into a sweaty panic. Once gastro enters your house, it is very hard to stop it from sweeping through the family, taking you all down with it. It’s horrendous, traumatic and vicious.
If your kids go to daycare, you’ve probably faced the horrors of gastro dozens of times. I feel like every outing to a play centre or the movies results in a week of quarantine to shake some sort of bug.
You can be as meticulous with hygiene as you want, but at the end of the day kids can be grotty. As a result of this natural flaw, they frequently share germs and bring them home. And when that day comes, parents go through the same motions. Every. Single. Time.
Stage 1: Horror
For some reason, gastro has a habit of hitting during the night. You know, when we are already exhausted and just need some sleep?
So, you’re peacefully settling in for the night, maybe with your iPad or Netflix and suddenly your kid appears in your doorway. With about a millisecond notice, they may or may not inform you that they “don’t feel well”.
Cue: projectile vomit everywhere (most likely on your bed, though).
The usual thoughts to fly through your head in this moment usually begin with “F”. You’ll also question every decision you have made in the past 2 days.
Where did we go? Who did you play with? What did we eat? NOOOOO!!
Stage 2: Denial and bargaining
We’re all guilty of it. Surely it isn’t gastro this time. Oh, it must be food poisoning! It’s not food poisoning.
He must have eaten too fast or skulled his drink. Yes. Yes. That is what caused that violent, demonic hurl. It is not what caused it.
The reasoning and pleading is endless. You’ll seek some sort of reassurance that maybe, maybe, this isn’t gastro.
Stage 3: Acceptance
It is gastro. You’ve accepted it. It is unpredictable, disgusting and so freaking contagious. And you’ve got it in your house.
After accepting it for what it is, you also accept the fate of your household: you’re all going to catch it. Once you make peace with this, you no longer feel the need to defend yourself from the inevitable: you’re going to puke.
It begins to feel like a case of sitting ducks, waiting for your turn to be struck. However, at least you know once it sweeps through, you can recoup and rebuild.
You put the whole family in quarantine, trying to contain the virus to your house.
Stage 4: Damage Control
Once the bug has made its way through every family member, you snap into gear. This is where the cleaning aisle at Coles really cashes in. You buy bleach, you buy every version of anti-bacterial-anything and you buy the most expensive of any product that promises to kill germs.
You’ll even turn to Facebook groups that specialise in cleaning to seek help.
This stage of the outbreak has a sort of mental-break-down-slash-rage-cleaning vibe to it.
This is when litres of Dettol are used on every surface and floor. It is when your toilets get the best scrub-down in existence. Germs be gone!
Stage 5: Fear, trauma and paranoia
This stage becomes a way of life after your first run in with gastro as a parent. Back when you were a kid, you’d catch gastro and Mum would look after you, cuddle you and clean your spew (most likely catching it in the process). Now, you’re the adult and you need to clean up your own chunder and that of your kids (possibly your partner too).
So, after you’ve seen how sucky it is to have gastro run amok in your home, you are forever a changed person.
Now, every time your kid chokes on their saliva, you gasp, thinking it is vomit. Whenever your child has the slightest twinge of pain in their tummy, you write off all your plans that week. And when they come home saying another kid at daycare was sick, you interrogate them to find out what kind of sick they mean (please be a cold, please!).
As parents we are all bonded by the trauma of gastro. We all understand the exhaustion and anxiety caused by a bout of gastro. And we all know that if each other’s kids cop it, we are staying the heck away!
Read all about another bug you want to keep out of your home.