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    Kung Flu Fighting

    July 5, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    We were blessed by a visit from the stomach flu fairy this week. Q. was the only victim, but she was sick enough for all of us. Have I ever mentioned how tiny she is? At 18 months, she is just under 20 pounds. The doctor has told us before that she is fine, just very petite. But what I’m learning is that tiny people are weaker when they are sick, and they have less fat to burn when a high fever hits. It can get very scary, and they have to be watched very closely.

    Hence my absence from the internet. I spent two full days and nights doing very little other than holding and rocking and cleaning up after Q.

    Our family has lots of experience with colds. In fact, our children tend to be sick from November to February most years. They seem to catch one cold after another. We spend our winters at home, reading quietly and hoping that future years will be different.

    The stomach flu, however, rarely hits home and I must confess that I find myself at a loss as to what to do when it does. Thankfully, my wonderful aunt is the dictator head nurse at our pediatrician’s office and is good to tell me exactly what needs to be done and what to watch for.

    Anyhow, I thought I’d document what we did this time so that I can remember for the future. It’s nice to be able to google myself when I need advice. Besides, one never knows who might benefit from the random things published on the internet.

    For the record, I am not a run-to-the-doctor type of mother. My relationship with antibiotics and Tylenol is tenuous at best. However, many alternatives aren’t very well publicized. It seems to me that there should be a third option. In other words, the choice shouldn’t be go to the doctor or do nothing. There should be things we can do at home. That is what my aunt helped me with, especially when it came to keeping Baby hydrated.

    The past few days felt somewhat like a war, so I’m going to call this my arsenal. I have both offensive and defensive weapons. Remember, while mothers defend the child who is sick, the children who are not sick must, if possible, be kept that way! This is where playing offense comes in handy.

    Here is my aresnal.

    Offensive Weapons

    • Clorox Wipes. I try not to use toxic substances in our home. In fact, The Nourishing Gourmet recently posted some handy tips on killing germs while using more natural substances. Her homemade kitchen disinfectant would, in theory, be as effective as Clorox Wipes. However, I had to use the wipes. It was the most efficient way to kill the germs. Let’s just say the older children were overly interested in vomit. I had to get things wiped up quickly and with the least amount of effort. Clorox won.

      In general, I’m not a freak about germs. It doesn’t bother me that there are little things I can’t see lurking around my house. But when those little germs prove that they can ruin my son’s favorite holiday {he loves fireworks}, I go to war.

    • Acidophilus and Other Good Bacteria. Good bacteria in supplement form is an excellent way to prevent tummy trouble. I keep this stuff on hand and anytime I get a tummy ache, I take a supplement. The brand I use is called Tummy Tuneup and it contains a wonderful combination of healthful bacteria. E. can’t swallow capsules, so we empty one into his cup. A. refuses to drink it {she says it tastes like dirt}, so for her we keep on hand Primadophilus. Be careful where you buy this one as it really needs to be kept refrigerated at all times.

    Defensive Weapons

    Most folks own a vomit bowl, clean towls, baby wipes, and other basic supplies for cleaning up messes. What I’m going to try to share here is a little bit more unique.

    • Dirt Devil Spot ScrubberThis baby really scrubs. There were a couple times this week where of necessity I had to leave a mess behind and take care of the baby before I could clean it all up. Needless to say that the mess looked like it could make a permanent impact on our carpet. But it didn’t, thanks to my handy Spot Scrubber!
    • Garlic Compresses. I have explained how to make these before. Garlic is thought of as an antibiotic, but unlike traditional medicines, there is no evidence that a tolerance can built up against it. Garlic supposedly warded off the plague for French priests in the early 19th century, in case you were wondering.
    • Electrolyte Solutions. The biggest danger when encountering tummy troubles is actually not the tummy troubles. It’d dehydration. My aunt has us start with 1 teaspoon every 10 or 15 minutes. Once the child keeps that amount down for an hour, then she has us increase the amount. This will vary by situation. For us, we couldn’t go over 2 teaspoons every 10 minutes for the entire first day. I fed her with a medicine dropper and kept a timer by my side so that I never missed a dose.

      However, the appropriate solution to use is debatable. By far the most popular solution out there, especially for babies and toddlers, is Pedialyte. However, this product always makes me uncomfortable since it often contains “natural” flavors, artificial flavors, and artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 6, or Blue 1. The Pedialyte freezer pops also contain other priceless ingredients like sodium benzoate and citric acid.

      I admit I tried Pedialyte this time. I had some free samples on hand, and I figured that if Q. would drink it, that was the most important thing. However, she hated it. And she couldn’t seem to keep it down.

      Once upon a time, long before the invention of Pedialyte, there was bone broth. Any bone broth will do, but I prefer chicken for sickness, and I’m thinking that is personal taste. After all, South Americans claim that fish broth will cure anything. Normally, I keep some homemade in our freezer to use as a base for soups. However, with all the morning-noon-and-night sickness, I can’t stand the smell of chicken cooking for hours and hours, so Q. had to stick to organic broth courtesy of Trader Joe’s.

      If you want to read about the healthfulness of bone broths, go here. Another option is to use gelatin {a bone derivative} to make homemade gelatin sweetened with agave nectar and flavored with juice. We like to use apple juice. This homemade gelatin will help supplement the broth infusions, especially if the child is craving something more substantive.

    • Codliver Oil Most of us skip our vitamins when we’re sick. However, codliver oil, which is a known superfood, packs quite a punch when it comes to supporting health. Once the child is keeping down food, a full dose of codliver oil can be spread out into tiny amounts through the day to assist the body as it fights.
    • BRAT Protocol. It is said that the BRAT protocol contains the best foods when a parent begins to reintroduce solids to a child that has been on a liquid diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. {Rice can be boiled in bone broth and blended in a blender or baby food maker, thus producing a pudding-like texture that is easy for toddlers to eat.}
    • Love and Prayers. I am not a babywearer. I do not carry my infants all day long, or wrap them in a sling and attach them semipermanently to my body in order to give them a womb-like feeling. With that said, I never put down a sick toddler unless circumstance dictates that I must, or the child shows me that is what they want. Instead of flipping on a video, I prefer to hold the child, rock them in my rocking chair, sing them a song, or read them a story. Physically loving the child through their pain {rather than medicating them out of it or distracting them from it} is my personal approach.

      While rocking the child, bathing the child, or even thinking of the child while the child is sleeping in their own bed, I pray. My husband prays. Our friends pray. Q.’s sickness this week was scary for a good 24 hours. Her fever was near 104 degrees, and she was very lethargic. We knew her body was fighting, but we also knew that we needed to monitor her closely and make sure she was handling the fever well. All of us are in God’s hands, but it is the big and little traumas in life that remind us how vulnerable we really are. Si and I both worked hard all day nursing Q. He held her for at least an hour while I made dinner, for example. The following morning, when her fever had broken and she seemed so much better, we knew it was not our hard work {though we had certainly done our duties}, but it was the Lord’s mercy in answering our prayers.

    Anyone have anything to add to the arsenal? Specifically, has anyone tried making ginger water for a flu victim? This is one I saw in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books {well, it was for preventing upset stomachs}, but I’ve forgotten to try it so far.

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  • Reply Kansas Mom July 7, 2008 at 1:02 am

    For a long time, washing soda was hard to come by for us, but now our local grocery store carries it (Dillons/Kroger). I think I’ve seen it at Walmart, too.

  • Reply rebecca July 6, 2008 at 3:25 am

    While L was recovering, we also added “Y” to the BRAT diet (per Dr. Sears site). Y is for Yogurt, of course!

    Which Pedialyte did you use? I had the unflavored (clear) and she was not a fan! So, instead, I gave her a little bit of flat soda, which was what my old pediatrician always recommended (so healthy) and white grape juice.

    I resisted the TV as well, but when I came down with the flu and L was well, I succumbed. Now we are trying to un-do what I did!

  • Reply Brandy July 6, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Kansas Mom,

    Yes! I forgot about the baking soda. It’s a girl’s best friend, indeed! I’ve never purchased washing soda before, though I’ve seen it mentioned a lot lately. Where would I even buy it? Do you know?


    Cinnamon. Good idea. And cinnamon tastes so good with rice. I have a friend whose children eat brown rice with cinnamon and stevia for breakfast (kind of like cream of wheat). They love it. Rice is definitely an after-they-can-keep-it-down event.

    I think you mentioned the white grape juice thing before and I forgot about it. Does it count that she threw up grapes? (Sorry, that was probably too much information.)

    By the way, your typo made us laugh. 🙂

  • Reply Kimbrah July 6, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Oh my goodness, I totally need to start proof reading. Feel free to edit or delete that if need be. I’m embarrassed. 🙁

  • Reply Kimbrah July 6, 2008 at 1:37 am


    From all I have read, including various articles by Dr. Sears, white grape juice (organic of course) is much better than apple juice for a dehydrated child. Apple juice will actually irritate and further damage the intestines, where ass white grape juice is the most easily digestible juice.

    Also cinnamon is great for diarrhea. It actually coats the intestines and protects them from further damage. I usually add it to my rice slurry mix (I’m sure I have told you before about boiling rice in twice as much water as normally called for to cook it and having the child drink the liquid). I have found that the rice slurry with cinnamon is the BEST cure for diarrhea for the whole family. It does not, however, sit well on vomiting tummies.

    I am glad Q is on the mend. 🙂

  • Reply Kansas Mom July 6, 2008 at 1:12 am

    I’m sorry you had such a sick little one! We’ve had our share of bugs this winter, and our daughter has a habit of throwing up when she has a cold, so I know a bit what it’s like.

    I haven’t tried your remedies for the carpet, but I do know baking soda on carpet gets the smell out better than anything else. I also like to add washing soda to the laundry, though I haven’t tried that with our new he machine. I think it would work if you used a powder detergent. (Maybe I should have some on hand for an emergency!)

  • Reply Brandy July 6, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Ellen, I think Pedialyte and crackers worked better for our family before we had all the allergies.

    We have one child that went through a year or two where they didn’t want to be held while sick. Sometimes I think that is almost worse because, as a mom, you want to give them comfort and it is hard to figure out how to do that for a child who wants to be let alone!

    I’m just glad both Seth and Q. are now on the mend!

  • Reply Ellen July 6, 2008 at 12:19 am

    You have my sympathies. It’s really hard to watch your child feel so awful and not be able to do much. I used Pedialyte and crackers, myself. You just wish you could do more when they’re going through it… Seth is the type that doesn’t want to be held much when he feels really bad, but I hate watching him lie there, listless.

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