Bleach, Water and Hope

If you inhale aerosolized viral particles, and then you inhale aerosolized bleach particles from cleaning up… does the latter kill the former?

Please say yes.

Sister 3 and her boyfriend came to visit this weekend. We had spent about two hours hanging out downtown on Saturday when it became pretty clear that the energy level was low between the three of us. I could have been up for something else, but they seemed kind of meh, so we went home for a refreshing nosh before deciding whether to head out to another local event. Unfortunately, the bf started feeling sick as soon as we got home. He said he’d gotten really tired while we were downtown, and I figured something wasn’t right when he didn’t eat a single bite of the delectables I’d put out when we got back. I’d handed him a bottle of cold water right away when we walked in, but he was already behind the curve.

It started with the lower GI. Eventually (when we got past the politeness of not acknowledging the problem aloud), I pulled out all the home remedies I could think of: rice, oyster crackers, Pepto Bismol. I suggested miso soup, which he poo-pooed. (Haha. I made a joke.)  He kept trying the water. But it moved quickly and mercilessly to the upper GI. By 9:30pm, he was miserable, my plumbing and sewer lines were being tested, and I was heading to the grocery store for those familiar staples of stomach illness: Gatorade, ginger ale, saltines and toilet paper.

Sister 3 felt bad. Initially when she told me he really wasn’t feeling well (which was around 6:30), she said they might not be able to stay the night. But it was clear he wasn’t going to tolerate a road trip home, so he had to tough it out at my house.

He had a rough night – Sister 3 and I were treated to the sounds all the way on the top floor of the house from the basement. I’m glad I went for the Gatorade, because apparently he wound up with terrible leg cramps from dehydration. (“I had a charley horse and a hamstring cramp in the same leg at the same time,” he said later, “so I just had to scream into my pillow.”) The cramps, he said, eased when he – bravely, I think – forced the juice. Sister 3 cleaned both of my bathrooms. Twice, I believe. But I wasn’t so sure it would be enough. So as soon as they left, out came the bleach and bleach-containing cleansers for the fourth scrub in 48 hours (one was in anticipation of their arrival).

I’ll spare you too many details but give you just enough to say that the red colored Gatorade made it easy to know the basement bathroom floor needed to be washed with bleach and water. Sister 3 had already appropriated all the sheets and blankets for washing, as well as some other bathroom textiles. I just went ahead and grabbed the rest. If I could have put the couch in the washer, I would have. I had begun to suspect that this was norovirus, and when I looked up the length of time it can survive outside the body, I was delighted to learn it lives for up to 12 days on fabric.

So there’s a loveseat I shan’t be using for two weeks.

I scrubbed every non-porous surface that would tolerate the chemicals: faucet handles, doorknobs, places other than the doorknob where I imagined he (or my sister, who I’m sure will get it, too) might have touched. I washed my hands so many times that the skin is stretching to allow me to type. My lungs are a little scratchy from the cleaning solvent. I find myself wishing I’d bought a can of Lysol at the store last night – or this morning after church, when my sister and I went to pick up more Gatorade and some Greek yogurt to put those live active cultures to work in the boy’s gut.

I’m eyeing the remote controls for the TV and Blu-Ray player suspiciously. The boy never touched them, but my sister did. Again I wish I’d bought some Lysol.

The incubation period for norovirus is 24-48 hours from first exposure. Fingers crossed I’m still sitting up and taking nourishment this time Tuesday. Because Tuesday I’m scheduled to finally get back to seeing Ali Velshi (not really Ali Velshi, former CNN newsman turned Al-Jazeera America newsman… my therapist, who reminds me of AV).

Because my head needs to be scrubbed, too.


8 thoughts on “Bleach, Water and Hope

  1. Oh no! I wonder if you should take Echinecia or Oil of Oregano pills. They are immune system boosters. You are supposed to take them asap once you’re exposed. Health food stores sell them. Or Whole Foods. You’re fine. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine!! You’ll see. You’re fine.

  2. Well, it’s Tuesday. How are you holding up? What bad luck for him to bring his sickness to your place. But at least your sister was trying to clean up. That’s nice. Might have saved you from some of the germies. Good luck!

    • Knock wood, I’m fine so far. My sister is sick, though. It hit her today. I figure if I make it through tomorrow, I’ve escaped. The poor guy felt so bad for bringing his viral load into my house and so awkward suffering through it here on his first visit. But he got it from his brother, and his parents had it at the same time he did. My sister was probably exposed to them, as well, because she saw them when she left here. And yes – I do appreciate her efforts to clean up after her man!

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