816 North

Our week of whine and misery

By Susan Vollenweider


A wise choice for dinner before the virus attacked? Not so much.
A wise choice for dinner before the virus attacked? Not so much. Special to The Star

Dominoes. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s also a fitting simile: We fell like dominoes.

The first one to fall and get the chain reaction going was our 19-year-old son. The big guy. The loud guy.

His topple was so loud and dramatic that he woke us all in the middle of the night. He felt miserable and hurt but there wasn’t much I could do other than hand him a can of Lysol and a bucket.

I do possess a modicum of sympathy and nurturing but when he didn’t lower the volume the next day I told him to stop being so whiny.

Domino number two fell 12 hours later when our 21-year-old daughter slammed a door and could be heard in her own woe on the other side. I didn’t tell her to stop whining because she kept her misery to herself…so much so that I kept forgetting she was in her room as miserable as the Loud Teen was in his.

A more mature domino fell when he was at work and had to make the drive from downtown in active illness. I did feel badly about that as I juggled Jello and ice cubes, but then he started making a racket of his own and got over it.

His abdomen had never hurt so badly, and I couldn’t understand?

’Scuse me? I’ve given birth three times, the last of which required a large abdominal incision — I’m intimately familiar with pain in that particular area. Whiner.

Two whiners and a girl (that I kept forgetting) dealt with their illness challenges while the youngest kid and I clung together hoping that this was a three-domino chain. Just in case, I carefully chose my next meal based on what would be least offensive on a return trip: Diet Dr. Pepper and Skittles. Tasting the rainbow over and over again didn’t sound all that horrible.

(Did I say “meal”? I mean…meal…some days we aren’t proud of our choices.)

The Horizontal Three were quarantined to their rooms and the kid and I scrubbed down to raw knuckles if we had to venture into their space to dole out Clorox Wipes and beverages. He and I had employed a similar strategy several years ago with great results and had every indication that we would remain upright…

…until I fell.


It wasn’t childbirth level pain, but it was pain with fever and lots of restless sleep interrupted by very urgent trips to the water closet. And that repeat-rainbow? Not as rainbowy as I had planned.

My bed was taken by the other guy who calls it “My Bed,” so I fixed up a sick couch, wrapped myself in my blankie and did my darndest to sleep it off.

Who gets a stomach virus in summer when the giant petri dish that is school is out? Obviously the Vollenweider Four, Maybe Five. We traced it to a 10U baseball team that Patient One had umpired earlier in the week and heard reports from others around town. Statistically the answer to “who gets a stomach virus in summer” is “quite a few people.”

This wasn’t the first time that our family got temporarily felled by a virus, and it won’t be the last.

My take-away: It’s OK to discuss your discomfort with people who care about you; it’s OK to get frustrated when the people you care about are exceeding what you consider a normal level of that discussion.

You know what’s not OK? What’s not cool when you have pulled abdominal muscles, body aches, caffeine deprivation and a 102 degree fever?

Feeling your own whine rising with no place to deposit it. Another cliché: I had made my bed and I had to lay in it alone.

Susan Vollenweider lives in the Northland and her youngest son was spared this virus. To listen to the women’s history or history-based media recap podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.