The Best and Worst Week, Basically Ever

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Photo credit: Cayusa)

I’ll start, as one always should, with the good news. On Friday, the state of California, acting at the direction of Governor Jerry Brown, has proposed a revised flammability standard for furniture that would require no chemicals!

The new rule, which is undergoing a 45-day comment period before being finalized, will require only that fabrics used in furniture resist a smolder test like that from a cigarette, and will not require that interior foams meet any test. Because furniture can be made to be less flammable through a good choice of fabric, this will allow better manufacturers to drop the use of chemicals altogether.

Because the California rule impacted the national market for furniture, this represents a tremendous step forward for public health. However, it is not a ban on the use of chemical flame retardants, so it does not mean that new furniture will necessarily lack flame retardants (FRs) — at least for a while. Consumers looking to buy new furniture should still ask whether the foam and fabric have been treated, because it takes time for manufacturers to alter their practices and research new foams and fabrics. (There’s a few sources here and here if you need ’em for FR-free furniture.)

But it’s great news! The Consumer Federation of America is organizing consumer letters for the comment period, here — you should go sign one to let regulators know that you also support flame retardant standards that do not require any chemicals.

Now for a less happy word on why, after my cheerily naive posts last week, it took me two days to catch up to Friday’s good news. I was slain by the Norovirus. And by slain, I mean decimated, flat out on the couch, unable to move. While Maya seemed a little under the weather late last week, I had no idea that her body was carrying a insidious viral passenger meant for me. On Sunday, I started to feel woozy, but by Sunday night, I was all chills and fever, in rapid cycling fashion.

On Monday morning, Maya woke me up at a brutally early 6:30 a.m., and I didn’t feel right. At all. In fact, my head was so wobbly on my shoulders that I worried that it would pop off and roll down the hallway like in that grisly scene from the first season of Louie. Maya pleaded with me to get up, so I struggled to my feet, making it only as far as the bathroom. I looked down at her, and she said, “Poopy.” Her diaper was straggling halfway down her leg, inside her pajamas.

I picked her up, got her up on the changing table atop the dresser, and then lost my grip on everything. It’s true what they say about the floor coming up to meet you. I fell backwards, and then passed out cold on the floor. I must have really gone down with a thud because my head hurt for two days despite the thick carpet.

When I came to (How could I have forgotten to put on my glasses?? Another bad sign.), I saw through the blur, and then remembered in real horror, that Maya was four feet off the ground. I struggled to stand up, which took a few tries, and then, in my addled state, somehow thought finishing her diaper and getting her pants on was the next relevant task. I got her dressed, and let her slide down to the floor along my body.

I was sweating like I had just finished a marathon (irony, pure irony), which the doctor later told me is a cortisol reaction to a blackout. I found the phone and discovered that my husband was still at the bus stop. He came right home, and we went to the hospital. After a battery of tests, they pronounced me flu-ridden, dehydrated and exhausted, with a soupcon of pink eye for good measure. They pumped me up with a drip and a pain reliever or two and sent me home with a scrip for the conjunctivitis.

Thus began my week from heck. Take it from me, the Norovirus is like a Dementor that saps your will to live. After laying both Maya and me out flat for several days, it lightened up a bit only to deliver a nasty set of secondary infections that required doctor’s visits and drugs. Then I had a very poor reaction to the (overly strong) antibiotic, and was kaputso for another two days.

We’ll just call it the Lost Week. Here are the questions I kept pondering in my still-queasy, half-alive state:

1) When you are sick and so is your kid, what in the samhey are you supposed to do? You can’t hand them off to someone else for fearing of giving another toddler the Bubonic, and you can’t really take care of them and get better yourself. After Monday, my husband had to go back to work and my mom (who did drive out to take care of Maya and stayed all day Monday) retired in fear of joining the germ-fest.

Then, it was just me and little Ms. Fellow Misery, and I’ll just say I did not love the company. I could not read to her, really, or play, and so the days were dreary, awful affairs. Needless to say, I violated every principle dear to me: we ordered (non-organic, and fairly gross) pizza; we watched a few videos. I couldn’t feed her or properly take care of me, I couldn’t see anyone or take her anywhere. It was isolating, and after the blackout, even a little scary.

2) How long will it be before Maya forgets what happened? Although I have never had this kind of fainting episode before, Maya keeps asking whether I will fall down, and before bed every night this week, has said she feels she is falling. She is also giving me lots of hugs and saying she wants to take care of me, which I have to admit is cuddlicious. Still, it’s clearly affected her. I know kids are resilient and all that, but it tears at my heart that I obviously scared her and seem less reliable in her eyes.

3) How can I prevent this from happening again? Everyone who has ever spent time alone with a child has feared a moment where they might be somehow, suddenly incapacitated. And this week, when it happened to me, it was just as terrifying as you think it might be. My resolution is to try to take better measure of my limits, and certainly (duh) never to put Maya in high places whenever I don’t feel well enough to stand.

But it goes deeper than that: before this happened, I don’t think I had really ever grappled before with this new responsibility to Maya that is really, first and foremost, about taking care of me. It’s like what they always tell us on planes: we have to get our own oxygen masks secure first.

We were lucky, and I am very grateful, but it could have been so much worse, as I shudder to think. Despite this awful, relentless illness, I think I found out the relatively easy way: when we don’t take good care of ourselves as parents, it’s our kids that could get hurt.

8 thoughts on “The Best and Worst Week, Basically Ever

  1. So sorry to hear you experienced this. Scary! I had been home sick as a dog with Scarlet Fever with 2 little ones years ago. It was awful, never so sick and so nerve wracking thinking the kids were relying on me in that state. Glad all turned out o.k.

  2. hi, Laura – One other question, not particularly relevant to the topic at hand!, but I’m trying to replace our old carpet with non-carpet flooring. We’re on concrete block. Is this anything you’ve explored already? We apparently can’t do hardwood without having it done on the premises, which is out of the question (cutting and staining etc.). Engineered wood? acrylic-impregnated wood? What kind of underlayment (e.g. under floating flooring) is non-toxic? (My son has bad allergies, so besides toxicity issues I need to consider allergy issues with some of the natural products.) I know this might not be something you’ve looked into, since I’m not seeing it on your blog.
    thanks so much –
    Pauline

    • Hi Pauline, Thanks so much for your question! I’ve actually wondered about this, because of a similar issue raised on my parenting list serv. Someone suggested cork, but I would certainly consider durability. The engineered wood I would worry has glues and finishing that raise toxicity concerns. What about reclaimed wood? We have a place near me that is a warehouse of sorts for cast-offs called Community Forklift, and a friend sourced her new kitchen floor from reclaimed wood there. Another idea is tile, with rugs over top, but you may want something more finished. I did find this site: http://www.ecofriendlyflooring.com/, which also mentions bamboo. IMHO, bamboo is often sold as a “green” product and may not be, because it is not sustainably produced and uses a lot of water to grow, but the toxicity concerns may be less (though I haven’t looked at the finishes). Sorry I can’t be more helpful! Let me know, please, what you find out! All best, Laura

  3. Laura,
    So sorry to hear about your week! That is awful, and so scary!! I worry about the same things. I remember these thoughts first crossing my mind when I brought home my oldest daughter. You suddenIy realize that someone is completely reliant on you to survive.
    I am home by myself with my 2 kids all day, and some nights and weekends. Having no family in the area makes things even more isolating. This is especially true in the winter when you can’t get out as much and would rather stay home to avoid getting sick.
    I guess there are many things in our modern society that make parenting harder (as we know from your usual blog topics). Not having the benefits of living with extended family is another one of them. I’m glad to hear you are feeling better and hopefully the scare of the incident is a distant memory for your daughter very soon.

  4. I’m glad you’re recovering.
    That sounds really scary. I worry about things like that all the time… what would my little guy do if I slipped and fell and hit my head or choked on something? We aren’t meant to live all alone like we do. It’s been said before how we’ve lost the benefits of living in an extended family, or ‘village.’ But being sick when you’re a mother really brings it home: we need back-up.

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