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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Full Suburban: When the stomach bug comes calling, it’s a matter of when, not if, it’ll come calling for everyone

{span}Hyrum {/span}{span class=”marksv9qfzhvg” data-markjs=”true”}Ditto{/span}{span} recuperates in him mom and dad’s bed while taking his turn with a stomach bug.{/span}  (Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

When you have six children and one of them gets sick, you pretty much know there will be a domino effect of illness working its way through the family. It’s inevitable; there’s no way to keep one kid or everything that he or she has touched completely separated from everyone else.

It almost becomes like a game of Clue, speculating who will be the next one to fall: “I think it will be Hyrum, with the vomit, on the top bunk, at 3:30 in the morning.” Correct on all counts!

A few weeks ago, the Dittos got put through the sickness wringer with a 24-hour stomach bug that started with Emmett and then slowly marched its way through almost the entire family.

The ordeal began when Emmett stumbled into our bedroom at midnight, not saying a word but looking panicked. I shot up in bed, knowing that look all too well.

“Are you going to throw up?” I asked. Emmett nodded, his eyes wide. “Run to the toilet! Go, go, go!” I urged, hopping out of bed to make sure he made it to the bathroom in time.

He did, and the game of Clue commenced. As predicted, Hyrum came next, in the wee hours of the morning two days later. Logan had to wake up for an early meeting, so I let him get his last bit of sleep while I dragged myself out of bed to clean up the mess, making sure to kick Logan in the leg when I laid back down half an hour later, saying “You owe me.”

And thus it went for the next two weeks. All would be quiet on the western front, and then BAM – another kid would get sick. And I don’t want to brag, but I am pretty great at the whole vomiting schtick. I have a regimen, in fact:

1) If the child is really sick (e.g., actively throwing up, high fever, limbs needing amputation), he gets to rest in my bed. That way, I can keep an eye on him without having to run up and down a flight of stairs a million times.

2) At no time is he to be more than an arm’s length away from the “throw-up bowl,” which was the biggest plastic bowl we could find in our house back in 2004 when our firstborn was old enough to teach us what a sick child could really do. What used to be a very nice salad bowl has suffered an ignominious fate.

3) When he finally feels like eating anything, it will be toast or applesauce. He should not ask for anything else, because he won’t get it. We learned that the hard way from the Great Yogurt Incident of 2005.

After a few days of tending to my sick kids – watching them lie in bed all day; bringing them food on a tray; letting them watch countless movies – I declared that I wanted a turn.

“I want to get really sick, just for a day or two” I said wistfully. “Not medium sick, where I can still soldier my way through all the usual mom things. I want to get sick enough that even I, the Queen of Guilt, will feel justified in laying in my bed all day long.”

Careful what you wish for. Soon enough, it was my turn. I woke up at three in the morning (why is it always three in the morning?) knowing something wasn’t right. And boy, was I correct. I managed to drag myself out of bed at seven to get the kids out the door to school, but then I went promptly back to bed and fell asleep until 11.

Food sounded horrible. Moving further than a few feet was out of the question. I was miserable. And yet, it had its perks. Over the course of the day, I finished two movies, took a hot bath, lounged around in sweat pants, and told the kids to eat cereal for dinner.

Would I want to feel that way again anytime soon? No. Am I grateful for my overall good health? Absolutely. But if you’re going to be trapped in a game of Stomach-Bug-Edition Clue, you might as well have Netflix and sweatpants along for the ride.

Julia Ditto can be reached at