미디엄y wife was the first to succumb, late on a Sunday night while clutching her stomach in the manner of a child desperate to avoid another week in school. Like any dutiful husband, I presumed she was overreacting, until she refused first a movie, then a glass of wine, and I knew things were serious. An hour later, any doubts were put to rest as she bolted to the bathroom to be floridly, extravagantly sick. It was clear that norovirus had arrived. Soon, our son was also showing an enthusiasm for the new family business in home redecoration, by projecting a pint of beige mulch on to the couch, formed from the cream cheese wrap we’d fed him minutes earlier.
At this point I had two choices. I could either act as brave caregiver, clutching my disease-ridden family to my breast, caring not about the damage to my own immune system. 또는, and look just hear me out, might I not push them away in the hopes of saving myself? Would not the smart, in fact the noble, thing be to safeguard my own health as best as I could – all the better to provide for them in the long run?
Hitting on a mid-point between these two extremes, I was soon tracing dainty steps around them, wearing a three-layer mask and sanitising my hands every few minutes, while wielding toilet roll and kitchen bleach against the pools of sick that were gathering in any direction my son turned his head. The large plastic bowl we set aside to catch his puke was steadfastly refused as he clearly felt he was above using a popcorn bowl as an improvised vomit trough, preferring to coat our floorboards and upholstery instead. In a nice added touch, much of this material was a lurid pink, owing to my earlier brainwave of infusing some yoghurt with a secret dose of Calpol.
Throughout, I continued washing, rinsing and sanitising, taking care not to breathe or even open my mouth near my beloved family. Perhaps it’s lucky that we’ve all had this crash course in infectious disease over the past 18 개월. Having sanitiser and face masks to hand is unlikely to have been the case a few years ago, and the seriousness with which we now treat contagion meant we cancelled all plans and stayed indoors for the next three days. Had this happened in 2019, we probably would have wiped ourselves clean the following morning, headed out the door having not washed our hands for a week, and made our way to whatever large, indoor pie eating contest we had planned for that day.
Not, 물론이야, that any of these precautions worked. By day two, I was conducting myself in the manner of that guy in a zombie movie who’s been bitten but refuses to admit it. All the masks and hand washes in the world were not enough to stop my inevitable bolt and scream to the bathroom and the weary oral ejection of every atom of food I’d consumed for the previous 48 시간. And there I would return, time and again, till 5am. I could have used the popcorn bowl, 나는 추측한다, but come on – I’m better than that.
Séamas O’Reilly’s childhood memoir Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? – which is funnier than that title makes it sound – is published by Fleet and available to order at mammybook.com