Monday, August 22, 2011


Sitting here next to our older son, who has just begun his two-week end-of-summer break from school, his legs stretched across my lap, I'm boldly going to admit that I just might be able to back away from my vomit vigil.

A victim of a medicine trial that did not agree with him, he has been vomiting for a little over three days, not even able to keep down water. Up all night and throughout the day, he wandered our home, trying to find a spot that was comfortable.

Nothing was comfortable.

And, of course, in his search for that perfect place of rest, he would inevitably get sick and vomit. No warning. No clue leading up to it to tell us that it was coming. We were victims of traveling vomit.

And, unless we slip-covered the house or strapped a bucket around his neck, we seemed doomed.

We've been down this road before---MANY times. It wasn't until our son was nine years old did he actually learn to vomit in the toilet or a nearby trash can. What a happy day that was...

Until then, I had tried all kinds of systems, for, when your nonverbal child is sick and vomiting, how do you think you will know so that you get to him in time? If he does not have the skills to take himself or his vomit to the proper place, are you lucky enough that he will call out to you?

We weren't for a very long time. Our son just didn't have that level of social connectivity to us.

We have a baby monitor in his room. In the very early days, I tried to listen over the monitor and try to figure out if it sounded like he was getting sick. It seemed he would jump out of bed, startled, and run for his door. So, I tied bells to his door so that I would know that there was movement in the room.

At some point, however, he became the kind of child that like to roll around on the floor in the "Oh-I'm-so-sick" pose, kicking gently the walls and door in his way. Too many false alarms with the bells resulted in a video monitor.

But even that didn't help much. Vomit comes fast. Unless I camped out in his room, I was in trouble. Once, I took a pile of vinyl table clothes and made a path with them from his bed to the bathroom.

He walked on it but turned his head to the side to vomit off of it and onto the carpet.

Old bedsheets work. Lots and lots of old bedsheets. They work if you like laundry. Sigh, but at this point in the game, it's not like we are ahead with anything.

Trash cans by the bed took FOREVER to catch on. It's okay. I'm not my best learning self when I'm sick, either. Still, I rejoiced when our older son learned that he could easily point his head into the trash can and let it rip.

Unfortunately, the thought of collecting his vomit in a can was more than he could stand. He's too tidy for that. Sure, vomiting all over his bed, carpet, the couch--that's MUCH tidier since mom can use lots and lots of soap to clean it while he just moves to dryer land. But, vomit collecting in a trash bag right beside him? In his space? Where he could smell it (I saw him do that with much distaste once)? Well, the trash can idea wouldn't do.

He very quickly transitioned to the toilet after this idea. I felt so victorious.

Unfortunately, there are times when we are very ill that we don't exercise the best judgment. This past stomach upset, where to place his vomit was our son's lapse in judgment.

It was as though we had taken many steps back. The poor boy was so sick, that I wasn't about to beat him while he was down and yell at him for his choice of vomit placement. I tried to shape his behavior. Toward the end, it worked inconsistently.

And so, here I sit, next to him wondering if another wave is going to hit. It's been most of the day now. I think we are in the clear.

His words are gone. His eyes are dark and sullen. At this point, I'd almost wish for him to take apart a toilet or two just to see him back to his normal self!

Nobody likes to see a child who is sick.

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