After a few random events this weekend, my mind started to wander about what it's really like to live with a Chronic Vomiter; that is, one who vomits all the time. I decided to write down my random sardonic thoughts about our experiences thus far. PS, if you are weak of stomach or don't like reading about puke, this post is not for you! Seriously though, it is pretty gross. Don't read if you don't want to!
Here are several things that you might not have thought about before unless you live with a puker.
1. Dogs are our friends. I know you probably think it's disgusting, and it is, but our dogs have helped cleaned up Elsie's puke so many times. They only have to hear her start gagging or choking, and their ears perk up, and they come a-runnin'! My sister-in-law once asked me what was the best way to get vomit out of carpet, and no joke, I told her to get a dog to lick it up. Have the dog lick up the bulk of the puke, and THEN you can spray it with a carpet cleaner of your choice. Save yourself some paper towels/rags by letting the dogs do the dirty work first.
2. Speaking of paper towels, here are a few items that a Chronic Vomiter family should invest in, because you'll use more than you ever could imagine: Paper towels. Carpet cleaner. Laundry detergent. Stain remover for clothes. Stain remover for carpets. Possibly a heavy-duty carpet steam cleaner. Bibs that not only have that cool big pocket at the bottom to catch puke, but also are made of vinyl/plastic-y material that can just be rinsed off in the sink. High chairs/kitchen chairs that have very few crevices or carved designs or intricate wood work or anything frilly that would be a difficult place to wash vomit out of. You definitely don't want chair cushions or any kind of fabric material on a high chair, because you don't have time to be washing those every other day. Our high chair is a fairly stark, no-nonsense, no frills chair that is easy to take outside and hose off, if necessary.
3. Another issue is finding clothes that easily hide vomit stains. You know you live with a chronic puker when, whilst shopping for clothes for said puker, one of your main considerations is: "How well will this material or pattern hide a vomit stain?" You definitely steer away from whites, light yellows or pastel pinks, and tend to buy lots of navy blues, purples, blacks, or anything with a busy pattern where a puke stain just might go undetected. Around our house, anytime Elsie wears a plain white shirt, it is generally for an outing or special event like church or other formal occasions. She wears it to said occasion, and then we immediately change her shirt; sometimes even before we get in the car to go home. White clothes don't stay white around here for very long.
4. Another indicator that you might live with a puker is when your own clothes are splattered with vomit, and you either don't notice, or don't care, or all of your other clothes have vomit stains on them and these ones you're wearing just happen to be the cleanest of the bunch.
5. You become adept at catching barf with a cup. Or, when you are in a new location with your puker, you scout out the area ahead of time to find the closest garbage can in case vomiting should happen. There has been a time or two when, whilst eating dinner together, I could tell Elsie was about to throw up, and so I chugged my glass of milk as quick as I could in order to have an empty vessel in which to catch her vomit. I nearly always succeed.
6. You revel in the fact that the majority of your house is NOT carpet, because the less carpet there is, the less carpet-scrubbing you have to do. I can't tell you how many times I have grabbed Elsie and ran out of the bedroom in order to try to get her puke to land on the floor in the hall, instead of on the bedroom carpet.
7. You have instilled a bedding system where you layer the puker's bed like this: a normal fitted sheet on top, then a waterproof sheet or waterproof layer of some kind, followed by another normal fitted sheet under that, then another waterproof sheet under that. That way, when somebody throws up in the middle of the night, instead of stripping the bed and putting on clean sheets, you simply have to strip off the messy top two layers, and voila! you have a fresh clean layer underneath, waiting to be slept on.
8. Vomit honestly doesn't gross you out anymore. I mean, yeah, it's repulsive and usually smells bad, and I wish more than anything that it didn't happen. But it really and truly does not gross me out in any way. It is simply a fact of life, for the time being. Elsie's puke is actually not that gross because all her food is pureed, so there are no disgusting chunks or mysterious elements that make me wonder what on earth my kid was eating. And she generally (but not always) throws up right after or during a meal, so there is not a ton of nasty-smelling stomach acid yet. An oral-eating person's vomit is so much more gross, because there are chunks and lots of acid. Chunks are disgusting.
9. You write an entire blog post about puke without batting an eye. Is anyone still reading this? I'm sorry. It is strangely cathartic for me to write about our puking experiences in a somewhat joking manner. I know vomit is revolting. I hate it more than anything about Elsie's feeding condition. Each time she throws up, I feel defeat. I feel defeat when her body rejects the nutritious food that I spent time and effort to make and blend specially for her. I feel defeat that it is one more negative oral experience for her to go through. I feel defeat and immense pressure that she has not gained any weight in the last six months of winter, because of vomit. I know I've said it before, but sometimes people don't understand: when Elsie gets a simple cold, the congestion makes her puke. She simply cannot tolerate the excessive mucus that goes down her throat, or the mucus that she coughs up. It makes her vomit. Coughing too hard makes her vomit. Because she has had so many colds and illnesses this winter, she has not gained any weight. She hasn't lost any weight, thank heavens. Every time she vomits, I feel defeat that the nutritious, high-calorie food I make for her isn't going to have a chance to add some weight onto her tiny frame. So here's hoping that with the arrival of spring time, Elsie will catch a break from the relentless cold/flu season, and stop vomiting long enough to gain weight.
I was going to end this post with a picture of Elsie after she had thrown up all over herself and the car seat, but let's be honest: ain't nobody wants to see that!