Norovirus Squared

Norovirus Squared March 12, 2013


Ashley (left) and Shelby (right) trying to entertain Sullivan.


My friends Tony and Kristen just had their first babies.

Twin girls.

And yes, they are darling.

The entire Darling family

I wish I lived in South Carolina so I could babysit the girls. I miss having twins around the house. It was a lot of work. I mean a lot of work. But it was also a whole mess of fun, too.

Our twins are identical twins. They have had their DNA tested for medical reasons and discovered that they are something like 99.9999 the same.

When they were younger I had shirts made for them that read: Same package, Different Gifts. 

I loved those shirts.

We took steps to help the girls develop their own separate identities. We put them in different classrooms, and, sometimes, on separate sports teams. I don’t know if it really helped them or not but I tell myself it did.

Daughter Ashley, the youngest of the twins, married a twin herself. She tried to hook her twin sis up with her husband’s twin but that didn’t pan out. Shelby said it would be weird because if they had kids they would be half-brother and half-sister rather than just cousins.

She has a point.

The best thing about having twins is that after Ashley had her own child, I became like a Rock Star Mama in her eyes. Every problem she’s encountered, I’ve dealt with in spades. It’s hard to complain to a mother about how little sleep you get because you have to nurse a new one given that your own mama nursed twins.

Sort of takes the oomph! out.

The girls don’t live near each other now. They haven’t for several years. They live about an eight-hour drive apart. They only see each other about every four months, if that. But they Skype and talk on the phone when they can.

And this past weekend they found a new way to bond across the miles.

On Saturday, Miz Shelby went to boxing class and then on a five-mile run. Later that evening, Miz Shelby called to tell me she wasn’t feeling well. She said she felt like she had to puke. (Sorry, there’s nothing pleasant about that, is there?) I am a weenie mom when it comes to projectile vomiting. Before I taught the kids how to walk or speak or ride a bike, I taught them how to puke in a toilet so I wouldn’t have to clean anything up.

One of my most terrifying moments as a parent was the morning the girls, then about 10 months of age, began puking in stereo. Tim was at work so I had to handle it all alone, with the help of big brother Stephan, who was only a tyke himself.

It wasn’t but a moment into the call that Miz Shelby made the mad dash to the bathroom where she did indeed vomit and continued to do so for the next 12-hours. It seems she had contracted the norovirus.

Friends Mike and Tammy came to Shelby’s rescue. They took her home with them and made sure she didn’t get dehydrated as she is so prone to do. Throughout Sunday, I stayed in touch Miz Shelby via text messages and phone calls.

Nobody likes to get sick. Shelby is no exception. And like most of us, when Shelby is sick she wants her mama. Or a close facsimile. By Monday morning, Shelby was feeling much, much better.

But at 5 a.m. Monday my phone rang. It scared me because youngest daughter Konnie is in Africa on a medical mission. You know how it is when the phone call comes that early. You just know something awful is going on.

It was, but it wasn’t Konnie.

It was Ashley.

She was flat on her back on the bathroom floor, sick as a yard dog with the scours. She had started puking about midnight Saturday.

Ashley was crying a bit ’cause she wanted her mom. Mostly she wanted the norovirus to go away.

It seems that within the hours of the virus fleeing Miz Shelby it struck Miz Ashley.

As I noted earlier, the girls don’t live near each other. They haven’t seen each other since January. But oddly enough they both contracted the exact same flu bug within 24-hours of the other one.

I wish I were  a scientist. I know this says something about the way bugs travel, but I also suspect it says something about people who share the same DNA.

From a mama’s perspective it was like being thrust into a  Rod Serling riddle.

On one hand, I was thankful the girls had each other to console. On the other hand, it seemed impossible that they’d both contract the same flu ailment, even though they live hundreds of miles apart.

Are you sure you aren’t having sympathy pains for Shelby? I asked Ashley.

No. No, Ashley said. This doesn’t feel like sympathy. It feels like a bad flu.

You know what they say about all good things must come to an end?

Well so do all bad things.

For the past 48-hours our twins have managed to connect in a whole new way — over the toilet bowl.

Sometimes being twins can be kind of creepy in that Twilight Zone fashion.



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