Last December, my family and I got a little, unexpected holiday blessing that came in the form of the most epic stomach bug. Actually, calling this thing “a bug” is doing it an injustice, because can you actually kill a bug. This thing would not die no matter how much Lysol, Clorox or Purell we threw in its path. It was literally the gift that kept on giving.
One by one we were dropping like flies, and as I bitched and moaned to family and friends about our complete and utter misery, the unsolicited, not-at-all-helpful advice and comments were full on. I know everyone was coming from a good place, and trying to be supportive, but when you’re praying to the porcelain throne, and trying not to crap your pants, you really just want some compassion, and maybe a hug.
Okay, an air hug.
So I am here to tell you what absolutely not to do when a loved one is sick as shit.
Do not give me advice that isn’t from an actual doctor or from personal experience.
I’m sorry, but something you read in a magazine or on your Local Moms Facebook Group is not legit medical advice. This also goes for your best friend’s sister’s cousin’s experience with a similar virus. If it didn’t personally happen to you, please kindly hush it.
During our epic barf fest my mom happened to be staying with us, and in an attempt to be helpful, she suggested I try something she read in one of her “women’s magazines.” She wanted me to drink the syrup from a fruit cup. You know, the ones you send in your kids’ lunches when you’re too lazy to cut up actual fruit? She also suggested I practice my deep breathing. I wanted to drop kick her.
Who in the hell wants to drink sugar from a fruit cup when they’re on death’s door? I won’t even touch those things with a ten-foot pole when I’m feeling great. And if I can barely hold down water without it coming out of both ends, I don’t have the time or energy to work on my deep breathing. I’m just happy to be breathing at all at this point. The irony is that the day after my mom’s “helpful advice” she, too, was hit with the bug. I gave her a big hug, brought her a fruit cup to drink, and suddenly all was right with the world.
Do not diagnose me.
I cannot stand when I’m sick as shit and people are asking me to go through my last three meals with them. Do you think I want to talk about the smoked salmon I ate three days ago when I’m spewing chunks 24/7? That’s a big, fat NOPE.
Maybe it was the salad you ate?
You know, you had a lot of dairy last night.
Oh, it could’ve been the oysters. You know you should only eat those in months that end with R.
I also love the “maybe it’s IBS or a food allergy.”
For the love of all things holy, I don’t have hives; I’m not having trouble breathing. And IBS and a food allergy would not take down the entire household. Are we clear?
The smell coming from my bathroom, on the other hand, may take down a whole household.
Don’t say “Do you really feel THAT bad?”
It makes me ragey when people try to minimize how I’m feeling in all aspects of life. In my eyes, it’s the bubonic plague, so act accordingly. And if you’re so skeptical about “how sick I really am,” why don’t you come over and stroke my hair while I vomit. I promise if you get sick it “won’t be that bad.”
Don’t make my illness about you.
I absolutely cannot stand when people tell me to “stay away from them,” or “OMG, we were with you last night, I hope we don’t get it” when I’m sick. It’s unspoken that you don’t want to get this, so relax. (This is actually when one should practice their deep breathing.) And I wasn’t raised in a barn; I know not to take my family in public unless it’s a dire emergency. Trust me, the last thing I want to do is leave my bed. We get that you are scared, and don’t want the bug, but for the love of God, show some compassion.
Don’t burden me with your trivial issues, and treat me like I’m not, in fact, dying of the plague.
Please don’t act like everything is fine and blow up my phone with silly questions like which outfit you should wear to a party or if you should bring cocktail shrimp or a cheese plate to your neighbor’s gift exchange. Listen closely: Do not mention food to me for at least two weeks.
I also don’t want to hear about the lavish vacation you’re packing for or your date night. I’m just trying to stay alive over here. Just remove me from the group text until I’m well, mmmm k?
Please don’t tell me how your family hasn’t been sick in years.
This is not in the least bit helpful. In fact, it makes me feel like I’m negligent with my own family or something. Like getting sick was a choice.
I get it: You drink elderberry by the gallon, and keep Emergen-C in business, but bragging about how you haven’t been sick since 1999 because of your family’s healthy living, and diligent hand washing isn’t helpful in the least. Sometimes people just get sick. I can assure you that no amount of hand washing would’ve prevented us from getting this bug.
Don’t tell me I’ll lose three pounds.
Let’s be clear on a little something; I never lose three pounds when I’m sick. In fact, I usually gain weight. My husband on the other hand loses ten. Life just isn’t fair. But really, why does the silver lining on most things have to do with our weight? It’s really irrelevant and insensitive.
I know this sounds harsh, and I’m sure the lingering bug is making me a bit irrational, but we could all learn to shut our traps when others are sick as shit. It’s the least we can do.
And don’t forget the air hug.
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