About an hour before we left to pick them up, a staff member from Southland called to say they had closed their doors to all visitors, and no residents were leaving. A gastrointestinal bug called Norovirus had infiltrated the building, and many residents and some staff members were spending a lot of miserable time in the bathroom.
The health department had issued something just short of a quarantine. Apparently, this bug is making its way across Florida.
Worrisome news. Depleting gut viruses are very hard on the elderly.
My next thought was that Dad would be very disappointed that he was not going to see the movie and possibly have ice cream afterwards. I called him, wondering how he would entertain himself for three/four days with no visitors and no outings.
He answered the phone in a near whisper. "We're sick," he said. "I've thrown up four times since last night. I've never felt so sick in my life."
He and Mom both had been knocked flat by the Norovirus.
Well, I wanted to go right over. Who was helping them get to the bathroom? Bringing them water? Keeping up on the laundry?
I've had gastro bugs before. They're painful and disgusting and gross. And kind of scary. You feel like you're five years old again.
I called Southland and talked to the only office staff member that was not out sick. She assured me the nurses and CNAs were checking on residents, cleaning up as they went, doing their best to explain to everyone why they had to stay in their rooms.
|Southland office staff. The two bookends are just back after two days out.|
I can imagine the overload. The weariness. The pile-up of rubber gloves.
Dad was too weak to refill his med box for the week, so a staff member retrieved it from his room and brought it to the front office for me to restock.
I sat in the director's office (she was out sick) and meted out the pills. I wiped off every bottle and the pill box with Lysol wipes. Then I squirted a glob of hand disinfectant onto my palm and scurried out.
This afternoon...things seem to be looking up.
I talked with Mom briefly on the phone, and she said it had been exactly 24 hours since either she or Dad needed to race to the toilet. Now, she said, they are just weak. She's spending short periods of time sitting up in her glider and has started reading the book Killing Lincoln.
I would think she'd want a lighter read after so much gut-wrenching trauma to the system, but that's me.
Dad is still "under the weather," according to the nurse. But, it sounds like the worst has passed.
Tomorrow should be a better day.
It's a new year, so I'm hopeful. It's a good time to leave old things behind. Things that are not beneficial. Like the Norovirus.
Here's wishing your gut a calm, uninfected New Year.