Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pest Control: How to Combat Tummy Yuckies

WARNING:  This post contains vivid terminology concerning stomach viruses.  Proceed with caution:)

A vicious stomach virus has circulated and infused our church body for weeks.  Our home has managed to dodge its attack until Tuesday.  With a household this big...with THIS many folks and THIS much love....tummy yuckies are NO bueno.

When Landen was a toddler with a  bug, our pediatrician gave us a prescription for phenergan gel and strategic orders by which to minimize and abbreviate the awful effects of a stomach virus.  He rattled them off as if everyone knew this, but he was being especially kind to take a few extra moments to enlighten such a maternal greenhorn.

We tried his strategy, and never had to use the gel.

Through 15 years of parenting and with hundreds of friends, I've NEVER heard of anyone else embracing our regimen.  It makes me wonder, "Did that doctor just come up with that off the cuff and toss it at me as a bonus option as I took my ailing child back home?"  No matter his intentions, Philip and I have found this particular strategy MOST helpful in our journey called parenting.  We would seriously rank it in the "Top 5 Helpful Hints" to leading a happy life.

Perhaps this is exactly what you do at your house.  If it is, I certainly haven't heard about it:)  Why haven't you published it??

15 years.
6 kids.
We've never had anyone throw up for more than 24 hours and we've never had to seek medical attention for dehydration.  Even if you think our strategy sounds difficult or strange, our track record should speak for itself:)

It takes at least 24 hours for children to become dehydrated, so the goal is to cease the vomiting asap.  I don't let dehydration serve as a threat or motivation for the first 24 hours.  i.e. "I want to give him some juice so he doesn't get dehydrated."  If you give him juice, there is a huge chance he will just throw it up and be that much closer to dehydration.

So here's what the doctor said so many years ago...

When the child vomits, wipe his mouth out, but don't let him have anything.
(I know he's going to have a yucky taste.  I know he's going to want a sip of water.  No.)

Allow him to continue purging until it subsides.
(Some of my kids have "dry-heaved" for a few hours...terrible to watch, but it's just their system being thorough.)

At the LAST episode, check the time.
(obviously, if they puke again, THEN you establish a NEW start time.)

Wait 6 hours after last episode.  Nothing in mouth.
(they typically whine a little, but drift off to sleep)

At the six hour mark, you can offer a teaspoon of water.
(This is a literal teaspoon.  Not a sip.  Not an ice chip.  A measuring Teaspoon of water.)
When the stomach is in crisis, even sips of  water can shock it back into heaving.  We let it fast and then gently, systematically allow it to reestablish security.

Set the timer and if they keep that spoon of water down, they can have another tsp in 20 minutes.
If they throw it up, you restart the 6 hr wait time.
*but it is such a small quantity, the mess is minimal and so is the effect to their vulnerable system

As long as they are keeping it down, you offer 1 tsp water every 20 minutes for 3 hrs.
(If they ever throw up, you start over by waiting 6 hours.)
After 3 hours of successfully handling teaspoons of water, they may sip on water or munch on ice chips.
After 3 hours of successfully handling small amounts of water and ice chips, they may have 1 cracker.

If they throw up AT ANY TIME, you go back to the initial 6 hr fast.

If they are eating a cracker, it has been 12 hrs since they last threw up.
(6 hr fast + 3 hr tsp h2o + 3 hr sips)

It is highly improbable that they would be malnourished or dehydrated in such a short time. Even if the initial purging lasts for 6-12 hours, their tummies are nursed back to fluid and crackers within 24 hours. During the initial purge, if I were to continue to give their belly material to expel, logically it would prolong the purging. Starve & dry out the virus purposefully and quickly, so that your child can have what he needs as soon as possible.

Once they are successfully handling a cracker every 20 minutes, it's safe to allow them to sip water as desired, and eat small portions of the ABC diet:  applesauce, bananas, and crackers.  We keep them on this diet for an additional 12-24 hours.

And if the virus has spread to two people, we typically shift to a bland diet house wide, so that if the inevitable is going to occur, it will be minimally horrifying and less messy:)

We've administered this plan with infants (I think I've only had one nursing baby with a stomach bug), toddlers, young ones, teens, and adults.  Everyone whines that they need a drink.  They plead that they just need a little cracker that they are "starving".  We know better and we know what will be in their best interest for the long run.

When they ask for food immediately after vomiting, you can ease their minds by saying, "We're gonna let your tummy rest for a while and later on you can have some sips of water then by tonight or tomorrow you should be able to eat."  The 20 minute wait is great to do with tv.  After the first teaspoon of water, you can say, "You just watch this show, and let your tummy get used to the water.  When this show is over, if you've kept the water in your tummy, you can have another spoonful."

Thank You, God, for people who have heard your call to study health and science.  Thank You for wisdom and for healing...and the promise that there will be no sickness in Heaven.  Good call!