The “Peds Sick”

When I was in med school, we used to say that the multitude of illness one would get during their pediatric medicine rotation was the “peds sick.”  I did remarkably well during that rotation and did not develop the “peds sick” until my birthday and the last week of the rotation… I am festive like that.

During this emerg rotation, I got a plethora of sore throats and gut grief that seemed to turn out to nothing more than a sore throat and upset stomach.  I thought I had made it out alive.


I had two shifts remaining and then I was in the free and clear.

And at Patrick’s work party on Saturday night I ate the most delicious greek food.  Only to become suddenly ill a couple short hours after.

Not a fan.

Foolish “peds sick.”

Patrick says he can differentiate a sick Trisha and a not-so-sick Trisha based on her medication use.  We had to leave the party early because I was feeling so horrendous.  I promptly came home an downed a full dose of Pepto-Bismol (I hate ALL liquid medications with a passion that befits a two year old) and gravol.

All was to no avail.

I will spare you the graphic details, but I am sure I nearly overdosed on ginger gravol and pepto over the next 24 hours, at least I would have should it have stayed in my system long enough to take effect.

The things that get etched into your mind at convenient and not so convenient times. Image via

The worst part about being sick when you know too much is that you basically watch the changes happen in your body.  I knew the estimated percentage of dehydration I was in. And I had an hour long mental debate with myself around 4 in the morning as to whether I should just attempt hammering down some fluids or continue to dry out.  I have a relentless fear of vomiting, so generally hammering down fluids is a bad idea to me, however, the dehydration symptoms began to gain on me by 10am, so I started to attempt rehydration, including sending Patrick out to get me some Gatorade after church (and of note, I am deathly against the use of Gatorade or Powerade in any circumstance except post-gastro rehydration or in elite athletes).

Yesterday is kind of fuzzy.  Lots of sleeping and random TV.  And disgustingly sweet convenience store slushie and Gatorade in an attempt to replete my fluids.

It was clearly a failed effort.  I awoke feeling less nauseous, but still totally crummy from dehydration.  I guess it could have been worse.

And Patrick is not sick… Yet.  He is kind of a ticking time bomb at this point.  No matter how aggressive we were with handwashing, closed toilet lids and lysol wipes, he is likely screwed.

So, here I am camped out at home.  I can’t go to work because that would just be seeding my last bits of enterovirus or whatever around.  Plus, I get tired after walking a few steps.  And I just kicked the extreme nausea around lunch time.  Fortunately, my capacity for fluid is a bit higher today, so I think I am back up to just 5% total body water depletion (the muscle cramps are fading and there are tears in my eyes again!).

The bright side to all of this is a day of catching up on TV, knitting and reading.  The downside is that I really, really need to finish my Christmas shopping and that I HATE missing work.

I come from a family that rarely missed time.  For better or worse, the attitude has been that if you can walk, you can work.  I think overall this is a good work ethic, except with things that are massively contagious.

Image from

I work in a profession that encourages everyone else to stay home when they are sick, but really, we get criticized.  I heard people talking the other day about how residents miss too much time because we have the option to take sick days on certain rotations and that we have some sort of back up.  Some physicians claim to have never needed a sick day.  They clearly never got gastro from working in peds emerg.

I do think it is important to limit sick time and maximize productivity.  I also think we work with a vulnerable population who would not be impressed to hear that I could hardly get out of bed just the evening before.

I feel torn about this culture.  I do like the commitment and I think sometimes we just need a kick in the pants.  I also think the system needs to account for the fact that sometimes people do just plain get sick and shouldn’t have to feel sick with guilt for missing a day.

So, I sit here.  Still feeling a bit guilty.  Sucking on a freezie and blogging.  Because that is all I can do.  At least I am no longer barfing.  And I am almost done the Powerade.

Sick days are so wasted on the sick.

6 thoughts on “The “Peds Sick”

  1. I know how you feel. I used to be the librarian at an elementary school and all 400 kids passed by my desk once a week sweetly sharing their coughs, colds, sneezes, stomach bugs,etc.

    Hope you are back to normal soon, Trisha. At least you got this over with a week BEFORE Christmas. =) May you never be peds sick again!

    • I am sure they shared all kinds of goodness! Patrick rarely brings things home and when he does he still tries to blame me, even though most of the time he is the one with kids all of the time.

      I anticipate being back to normal soon! And I am really glad it is before Christmas!

      I have one more month of peds to go, but it is pediatric oncology, so most of the kids aren’t that kind of sick!

  2. oh, I’m sorry you’re sick! I’m a huge proponent of staying home when you’re sick, though. We had a big problem two years ago when final year med students were too scared to miss wards and would come in with the flu and make the patients sick! So you get some good rest.
    I’m am so afraid of vomiting too, but I’ve never heard it expressed as such. That part was a lightbulb moment for me!

    • Making patients sick is the worst! As is slowly picking off your fellow med students!
      And thus why staying home sick is better. Plus, people generally feel better sooner, or at least not quite as run down!
      Interesting lightbulb moment! I’ve been weird about it for as long as I can remember. I also used to be terrified of people who were vomiting. Working in medicine helped knock most of that out of me. But when it is me, I am still not a fan!

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