Stomach Flu Math

In The Secret Lives of Dentists, Campbell Scott and Hope Davis play seasoned parents of three who, watching one child after the other succumb to a stomach bug, calmly calculate how long it’ll be before they get hit themselves, and how long until the entire family emerges, healthy, from the Tunnel of Sick.

I’ve been thinking about this movie a lot today.

Day One – Sunday: Tony wakes with chills and fever. I send him back to bed, take both boys to a party to which only Ben was invited, take them both for an extended visit with a friend. We come home for lunch and Eli naps. Ben and I read books — I’m in conservation of energy mode, because who knows yet how long this will last?

Day Two – Monday: Ben wakes feeling rocky, but insists on going to school. At the breakfast table, in the car, and on the walk from car to classroom I have second thoughts, but he continues to insist that he’s “up for it.” He brightens when he sees his teacher. I remind her of my cell phone number and leave, uncertainly.

Day Two, 11:30 AM: Ben made it three hours before admitting that his head hurt and he wanted to come home. Eli and I have been home long enough to eat lunch (nice timing!) and we pile back into the car. Eli falls asleep on the drive over, so I carry him inside. We find Ben curled up in a little bunk bed in the school’s administration office, enjoying the secretaries’ attention. Eli’s all excited about the bunk bed (“Li-li climb laddah! Li-li climb laddah!”) but I manage to extricate him without much fuss. He walks to the car while I carry Ben.

Day Two, noon-4pm: All the Grant boys sleep while I work on my column and try to ignore
incipient headache. Ben and Tony’s naps are a good thing; Eli’s makes me worry that he’s coming down with it, too.

Day Two, 4-6pm: Boys flop on couch reading books and watching Oswald. I get all the beds made up with fresh sheets, do the dishes, run to the grocery store to stock up on apple juice, apple sauce, and rice (bananas and plain bread for toasting: check). I’m still aware of the headache, and is that a chill in the air, or is it me? I take some tylenol.

Day Two, 6pm: Eli looks around at us all now flopped on the couch and asks, “Dinner? Li-li dinner?” Poor guy, I almost forgot! Scrambled eggs, toast, and veggie bacon it is. Tony joins him — his first meal since Saturday night. I eat a big plate of rice, lentils, cherry tomatoes, spinach and yogurt (sounds weird; tastes great, though I hope I don’t see it again). Ben makes a supreme effort to join us at the table, sipping his water.

Day Two, 7pm: Bedtime! Eli has spent the last half hour couch-diving and generally entertaining us. The class clown, he shows no signs yet… and yet, I can’t help wondering if this is just a last-burst adrenaline rush before he succumbs, too.

Tune in tomorrow…with any luck, even if it really hits Eli and me, too, we’ll be done with this by Friday.


  1. mom says:

    Oh dear! Hope Ben’s recovery isn’t delayed, and that you and Eli continue to escape the worst of it…



  2. Violeta says:

    It might work out that not all of you get sick. When Todd last got sick, only Maya also got sick; when I last got sick, only Joaquin got sick. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

  3. Libby says:

    Good luck, Caroline!