Not for the queasy – where to get sick

By | November 30, 2008

If you’re not a parent or don’t want to talk about the logistics of sickness, move along… nothing to see here.

You’ve been warned.

So after Thanksgiving dinner was over and we were all about to head home, my nephew got sick. Really sick. Suddenly and explosively. And voluminously. It was very surprising, so for a second everyone just stood there not sure what to do. (I feel bad for my nephew, too. Not only is it not a lot of fun to be sick, but to have your entire extended family standing there staring at you when you do couldn’t have helped.)

When people got over the shock and reacted, and it was obvious it wasn’t over yet, the first snap decision that had to be made was where to take him to continue his purge. It’s here that I want to dwell today.

So the options were:

  • Stay where he was: in the dining room, which he had already soiled, with its hard-wood floor.
  • Move to the next room, the kitchen, where the dishes were mostly, if not completely, done.
  • Try to make it up the split-level stairs and down the hallway to the bathroom. The entirety of that trip is carpeted.

On the way home, my wife and I were debating the best action to have taken. My vote was for the kitchen. Her vote was to stay where he was (which, incidentally, is what happened). We both had valid arguments to back up our positions.

My position is: contain as much of the mess as possible with minimal movement and maximum “cleanability.” That means getting to a toilet, sink, or trash can as quickly as possible. In this case, given that the kitchen was one room away, I’d have gone with the kitchen sink. The kitchen trash can was also a possibility, but given the situation it was probably full. Speed is not the hallmark of someone getting sick, especially a child, so it would be the adult’s job to move him/her, even if that means picking them up or dragging them (safely, of course).

My wife’s position is to stay where he was because the mess is already there after the first explosion. Better to clean one location than two.

Her problem with my position is that there’s a real chance the next spew could happen in transit, plus she thought there would be splashback that could escape the sink and cause a larger cleanup. Both valid points, but I stand by my preference.

My problem with her position is that you’re creating a deeper, and probably more significant, mess in the one location. I’d rather clean smaller messes in more locations than a huge, saturated mess in one. It’s also more likely that a significant amount of material will end up coating the sick person and their clothes, which completely grosses me out. As the sick person, one of the worst things to have happen was finally to be done with the unpleasantness and then get a nose full of soiled shirt wiping itself on my hair on its way by. Getting to a container minimizes, if not completely avoids that problem.

So, I leave it to you, the brave few who got through this post, to settle our dispute. Which way would you handle the situation? Vote below, and support your decision (or propose other options) in the comments.

[poll id=”5″]

9 thoughts on “Not for the queasy – where to get sick

  1. Marita

    I’d ALWAYS vote no to vomit in the kitchen sink, that is a hygene issue (can you tell my dad is a doctor and mum a nurse).

    My oldest had bad reflux until early this year when it seemed to disappear after years of medication. She would vomit huge amounts and our response was to leave her where she was and run for a container (usually a plastic bag). Once we had a container for her to barf into then an adult carried her to the bathroom.

    After years of practice this was a finely tuned operation for hubby, daughter and I, it was something we did at least twice a week and always after a party.

    I’m massively relieved that we have not had to do it in months.

  2. Jon

    Ugh. I like the kitchen sink idea, just because I hate the idea of trying to scoop/sweep vomit off a hardwood floor. I can handle liquid, and I can handle solid, but what exactly do you do with something in between? Can’t really sweep it up, can’t really soak it up.

  3. Pam (i.e.his wife)

    A. I want to say that I noticed that your position took a paragraph to defend, while mine was given one sentence. So, I’m here to clarify and to defend my point a little bit.

    B. It should be said that our sister-in-law has a small kitchen (and no dishwasher!), which she and others had spent a good amount of time cleaning up. Would NOT have considered moving the sick child into this room. No matter what anyone thought. (Jeff!)

    C. My biggest problem with your position: I’m normally the one doing the clean-up anyway.

    D. I like what Marita said about bringing a container to the child. I’m not anti-container! I just can’t see the point of dragging the child through more of the house to get to one.

    E. I also agree with what she said about the germ issue involved in using the kitchen sink as a receptacle. (I”m sorry that you had to deal with that issue for so long. That must have been hard for all of you!)

    F. What I proposed at the end of the discussion (and still recommend): Next time one of our kids throws up — if I’m the one on the scene, I’ll handle it my way. If you’re the one there, do it your way. (One amendment: If you do it your way, you handle the clean up!)

  4. Jeff Post author

    First of all… that sounds like a lot of work, and not a lot of fun. Even I’m relieved that’s over for you, and we’ve never even met!

    Second… okay, the hygiene issue is one that my wife brought up as well. I’m not convinced, though, that a good cleaning won’t take care of that. Still, I see the point.

  5. Jeff Post author

    Yep, I’m right with you. Every time I start to think about I get more grossed out. Inevitably it’s going to get in my fingers, and… eeech.

  6. Jeff Post author

    Okay… you wanna go point by point… I’m game. πŸ˜‰

    A. Your position is easier to describe. No slight intended, but clarification is appreciated.
    B. Size of the room is irrelevant to the general discussion. Effort involved in prior cleaning… maybe some small relevance, but in this scenario there’s more cleanup no matter which way you go, so I’m gonna say that’s irrelevant too.
    C. Irrelevant to the general discussion. That’s a specific issue with you and me. And one I’m happy to lose. :)
    D. Yep, the container coming to the kid is good. I’d go with that. Having a container handy is key, though. What do you do when one isn’t available?
    E. As I said to Marita, a good cleaning should be able to deal with the hygiene issue, though your point is taken.
    F. Again, that’s between us and not so much relevant to the general discussion, but since we’re going public… if you’re there ALONE feel free to do whatever you want. If I’m there to help don’t expect me to be thrilled about doing it in a manner with which I disagree while you’re saying “Oh, Jeff! Help!” :) And if I’m there alone, I’d expect I’d be doing the cleanup, yeah.

    So, to summarize: D and E are relevant and good but “discussable” points. A, B, C, and F – interesting thoughts, but irrelevant.

    Btw… thanks for being the best wife ever. :) (PS: Can I sleep in the bed tonight?)

  7. Marita

    πŸ˜€ we were always the first to leave parties so annie wouldn’t disgrace herself on the host families carpets πŸ˜€

    A good clean will take care of vomit in the kitchen but from experience a good clean is lengthy and tedious and there are LOTS more nooks and crannies for the vomit to get into. And thus if for some reason this is an infectious bug and not merely a reaction to overeating then there is more chance that others will get sick.

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