Advanced Germ Warfare

My husband travels a lot for work. I’d say, if pressed for an average frequency, that he’s gone for about one week out of every month. That’s a lot of restaurant food, a lot of time in airplanes, a lot of time in hospitals meeting with nurses and doctors (read: a whole hell of a lot of exposure to germs).

That he hasn’t brought something infectious home yet after almost two years of running this company is nothing short of remarkable now that I think about it.

Unfortunately, his lucky streak ran out last week. While on his way to Florida last Monday, a nasty pack of viruses found its way into his body, liked it there, and set up camp. Those viruses got busy and proliferated until poor Wes was as sick as I’ve ever seen him.

By the time he was flying home from Florida on Wednesday night, he was miserable and on his way to violently ill. When he got home, he was dehydrated, exhausted, and shaking from a decent fever.

Thursday is when things really got bad, though. His fever kept climbing, and he was visibly dehydrated, so he and I took a little trip to the emergency room where they plumped him up until his fingers were fat little sausages. Three bags of fluids and no small number of tests later, he was discharged with the vague diagnosis of, “Probably something viral.”

Now, I want you to remember that we have two small children at home. With the viruses Wes could have ranging from the dreaded Norovirus to the never-ending Rotavirus to the pernicious and difficult-to-kill C. Diff. (which isn’t a virus, but was mentioned as a possible diagnosis), you can imagine my frustration at not knowing exactly how to keep myself and my kids safe from this virulent pestilence.

I’m useless against some of the nastier viruses! 

For example, did you know that alcohol-based hand sanitizers (e.g. Purell) don’t kill Norovirus, but do work against Rotavirus? Or that Clorox and Lysol wipes will not kill either C. Diff. or Norovirus? Or that you’re contagious for three days after symptoms stop with Norovirus, but for WEEKS with C. Diff.?

After I got Wes home and comfortable from the hospital, I cleaned everything he’d touched with Lysol wipes, my standard go-to whenever anyone gets sick with something that causes a fever. When I finally sat down and put my aching leg up, I started some research into the various viruses and realized I needed to get some bleach spray and re-do everything I’d just done. Otherwise, my kids or myself might catch what Wes had and then we’d all end up in the emergency room.

(You know what’s fun? Reading that several of the possible viruses Wes might have are occasionally fatal to children because of how quickly and severely little kids can become dehydrated.)

So, despite the pain in my tired leg and the late hour, I ventured out to the store, procured bleach spray, and spent another hour sanitizing every surface of my house. Even the ones Wes never touched. I didn’t want anyone getting sick for two weeks because I forgot to wipe down the sides of the trash cans, you know?

I crawled to bed at midnight that night, and have continued my vigilance ever since. We’ve bleached and shelved all the hand towels and we’re going through paper towels like crazy. Wes is quarantined in our room, which gets bleached and wiped down every night before I go to bed. The kids are only allowed to talk to him from the door of our room, and he wears a clean pair of latex gloves every time he touches anything.

The three of us remain unscathed thanks to these efforts, but Wes is still waiting patiently for his immune system to finally give those viral squatters the boot. Pale from a week indoors, tired of drinking electrolyte solution, and longing for the life that’s waiting for him on the other side of this illness, he bides his time in his pillow prison and looks forward to the day he’s free to pass slowpokes in his Mustang again.

Let this be a lesson to you: Other human beings are gross. Wash your hands before you eat anything, and beware any food that’s been touched by bare hands. Trust ye not solely in Purell, because some viruses treat alcohol-based hand sanitizers like fun little pre-funks before they storm your proverbial castle.

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