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The Twelve* Stages of the 24hr Stomach Flu

The last twenty-four hours have been less than ideal for me. Between feeling like my bedroom was spinning to sleeping with a garbage bag nearby bedside table in case I get sick and can’t make it to the bathroom, I have had what most would consider the stomach flu. Except unlike the full-blown stomach flu, this is the condensed, Sparknotes version. All the same symptoms, but all in the span of about a day. And trust me, the symptoms are just as bad. Worse even. For the sake of those lovely people who have been blessed with never having the 24 Stomach Flu, let me break it down for you, stage by stage:

Stage 1: Huh, that’s weird, I’m suddenly not feeling to well. You day will start off normal. Nothing out of the ordinary will happen, you’ll go to you classes or work, you eat the same thing you always eat for lunch, but then, something changes. You begin to feel a little off. You may get a stomach ache, even though all you ate for lunch was a turkey sub and Baked Lays from Subway. At this stage you blame your ill feelings on indigestion or not eating enough.

Even in illness I'm still a grammar nazi.

Stage 2: Wow, what is going on with me? Now you know it’s probably not indigestion. The Peptol Bysmol you took is not helping. Not only do you now have a stomach ache, but thinking about food is now causing you to become ill. You may also experience dizziness and sudden fatigue.

Stage 3: Okay, I really don’t feel well. At this point, you pack up your work, tell your boss you need to go home and hope to god you can make it there before getting sick all over the sidewalk. You stumble home, trying hard not to smell the Domino’s Pizza and Chipotle you must pass on your way home.

Stage 4: Why is the room spinning? I think I’m going to be sick. Hopefully you made it home vomit free. If you have, bonus points to you! If not, sucks to be you. You are now laying on your bed, wishing that the ceiling would stop rotating and your bed would stop jarring. Your backpack/briefcase/whatever-you-carry-your-work-things-in bag has been dumped on the floor along with your coat, mail (if you even bothered to get it), and shoes. You can pick them up later when the idea of bending over is to pick them up, not to throw up in the toilet. Most likely at this stage, you will get sick. And it will be violent. And you will feel like crap.

Hopefully you won't look as pathetic as this guy.

Stage 5: The “Dear God I’m Going to Die” Panic Attack. You’ve gotten sick. It was awful. You feel awful. You crawl back into bed, limbs shaking from the strain you just put on them. As you lie there trying to regain stability, a horrible thought runs through your head: I’m going to die. What ever this is, is going to kill me. At that moment you wish you had ordered the meatball sub instead of the Turkey sub, because the meatball was what you really wanted but you didn’t get it because it was higher in calories. You wish you had the strength to write a quick will, so that your friends and family know who should get your monkey cookie jar and who should get your giraffe figurine from Nigeria. An overwhelming fear overcomes you when you realize neither of your roommates/family members are home and they will come in and find you dead, half in your pajamas, half in your work clothes with your hair slightly damp from rinsing the vomit out of it. You wish you had shaved your legs the night before so the coroner wouldn’t have to touch your hairy legs. All of this happens within the span of about a minute to a minute and a half.

Stage 6: Acceptance of your impending death and peace knowing you’ll soon be done with whatever this is. After the panic attack subsides, you suddenly don’t really care if you die or not. If you die, you get to go to heaven, and you won’t feel like crap anymore. And at the time, that sounds pretty good. You don’t want to die, but you’ve come to terms with it.

JESUS: Stomach flu, eh? ME: Yeah, couldn't seem to keep anything down. JESUS: Well come on in, I'll make you some loaves and fish. You must be starving.

Stage 7: The Major Nap. As you drift off to Heaven sleep, your body just kind of takes over and puts you in a coma. You’re out for hours, and not even an earthquake or the apocalypse would wake you. This is a good thing, because at least you aren’t throwing up.

She has no idea zombies are about to break down her door.

Stage 8: The fullest bladder ever; also known as the biggest pee in your life. If you were taking care of yourself prior to the major nap, you would have been drinking plenty of clear fluids or Gatorade. What little managed to stay in you have now made it to your bladder and honey, your bladder is about to burst. You run to the bathroom, happy that for once you’re not there to vomit. Relieved that your bladder is no longer empty, and that you didn’t get sick, you think maybe you’ll try to eat something.

Stage 9: The sudden food cravings. Because you haven’t eaten anything in quite a while, your body might want something odd, but nothing that would make you sick again. Like mashed potatoes. Or a PB&J. Or buttered noodles and parmesan from Noodles and Company. If you’re lucky enough to have those foods, you’ll make them. If not, you’ll find something else to eat.

Oh yes please.

*Optional Stage: The revert to sickness. If your food craving did not make you feel better, it may cause you to get sick again. If this occurs, stages 7-9 might be repeated.

Stage 10: The Second Major Nap. Just to be on the safe side, you’ll take a nap after you eat something. This nap will either confirm or deny whether you are getting better or not. If you wake up during the nap and get sick, then that’s a bad sign. If you make it through this nap without getting sick, the light is at the end of the tunnel my friends.

Stage 11: The starvation mode. If you Successfully made it through the Second Major Nap, you will most likely wake up starving. It will feel as though your stomach is a black hole that will suck itself away if you don’t get food this very instant. You will be ravenous. Don’t make the mistake though of eating whatever is in the fridge. That will just make you sick again. Eat a full meal, but make sure is still bland-ish.

The downside to stomach flu (besides your body refusing to keep anything down) is that you don't get turned into a butterfly at the end. You're still just you.

Stage 12: I’m totally fine again. What the crap? Suddenly, all is well. It will feel like you were never sick. And there’s no particular reason for it. All you know is you were on your death-bed a few hours ago and now you’re completely better. C’est la vie.

Okay, you probably won't feel this great. But she's only that happy because she's getting paid.

Update 5/1/2015: I can’t believe this post has become so popular! If you would like to see what I am up to now, head over to my new blog, The Reluctant Fit Foodie!

About blweathers

I want to write. About what, I'm not sure. We'll figure that out together.

54 responses »

  1. This was a good and accurate read! I hope that my affliction goes away soon. I’ve been dealing with the nausea and tiredness for a week now. But I got the “optional” step, so me still feeling this way is certainly my fault :(

  2. Hilarious and very true! I started feeling awful last night, made it to work today but came home and collapsed – I think I’m starting to feel human again, so hoping I wake tomorrow with a WTF feeling!

  3. Going through this right now. Happy New Years to me.

  4. I too, am going through this. This is my third day. Although my fever has dropped considerably, I was advised by my MD’s nurse not to Return to work unless i had been fever free for 24 hours. That hasnt happened yet. I was also told that a fever is 100 and up. It’s been a great New Year thus far – lol. Sending Positive Thoughts and prayers to those afflicted!

  5. I too am dealing with this for New Years. =| going on day 5 tomorrow. Mostly just awkward feelings and can’t eat normal yet. And nighttime sickness. But I’m hoping its gone soon!

    This was such an awesome read haha. I definitely already came to grips with death haha. Even randomly added more salad and veggies to my diet 3-4 days a week.

  6. Stage 6.6: Being a hot & sweaty yet simultaneously cold mess, wanting desperately to shower but knowing your skin hurts & you are too weak to walk as far as the bathroom.

    Stage 12 could also be called “I’m not dead?!?”

  7. Ah, I so agree with you. I have had the 24 hour flu today. It began last night about 3am and is, now, nearly over. I subsisted a lot on toast with light jelly. I am hungry now.
    I used one of your pictures in my post and linked to this post. Hope you don’t mind.
    It was nice to stop by. Now, I will get back to being sick, if you don’t mind.

  8. Pingback: And then, there’s Today… « Kindredspirit23's Blog

  9. This was my experience, literally, word for word, experience for experience. Amazing. I could have written this. I am amazed. I started reading this at stage 5 yesterday (literally after I texted my gf the she can have everything I own) and this gave me hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Pingback: Stomach Flu Revisited « Heels and Headbands

  11. I felt good this morning then felt crappy the rest of the afternoon. Took a big nap than ate soup. Than. Went to bed.feeling human again what is going on.

  12. crimZonmoOngoddess

    Pahaha this iz so perfect!!!!! The 24hr flu iz worse than ANYTHING…..EVEN GIVING BIRTH LOL

  13. I just found this, the day after my 24 hour death process. It is hysterical (today). Yesterday opening my eyelashes would have been to painful to read it.

  14. Just read this and it made me seriously laugh. I woke up at 3 AM Thursday morning violently ill from both ends. I literally wanted to die for a good hour or two. Then the fever hit, pouring sweat. Then I am freezing cold. I found myself laying in the fetal position on my couch at 4:30 AM shivering. Thursday I was dead to the world. I dragged myself to my doctor, but I still don’t know how I survived the 7 mile drive. All day I stayed in bed and felt like I had been run over. Sore, achy and just ill.
    It’s Sunday now and I am starting to eat normally again. Stomach is still not 100%, but I am getting much better.
    Thanks for putting this together, it was perfect.

  15. This was definately me yesterday. I was sure it was due to the drinks I had the night before, but it lasted way too long. Pretty sure my boyfriend came home to me crying thinking this would never stop, laying on the bath mat next to the toilet. At least he wouldn’t let me eat pizza when the cravings came!

  16. Pingback: The Vomitorium (WARNING: Queasiness May Occur) | everydayleft

  17. Very good I enjoyed the article.
    After step 7, I tryed a colon cleanse & sipped cranberry & raspberry Ocean Spray. Just after stopping vomiting, to flush the system.
    Felt much better

  18. I’m at step 5 right now and it’s 12 am and I can’t wait until the napping parts !! I’m so tired. It all happend exactly how you put it. Last time I had the flu I woke up from my sleep (exactly 24 hours after getting sick) and I felt like I could run a marathon lol.

  19. I had the 24 hour bug all day yesterday. Waking up at 12am the night before & puking up my guts until 5 that morning. Hopefully I’ll start feeling better soon((: any ideas of what to eat ??

  20. Thank you for writing this article! I’ve just woken up from my second nap, still laying in bed, in fear that I will stand up and the room will be spinning again. Been dealing with this all Christmas. Good luck everyone!

  21. Awesome summary I am currently recovering from the flu today . I’m about to take a flight I’ve gone through all the stages so I should be fine :/ hopefully. Your article was highly entertaining and definitely made me feel a lot better .

  22. This is exactly what I went through today, woke up mumbling ” I’m dying” , and came to terms with my mortal end, realizing anything had to be better than this ……I enjoyed this article

  23. Just getting over this now…I think/I hope.

  24. Veronica Ramirez

    Oh my gawsh I just laughed so hard I cried! My shoulders and tummy still hurt but this is exactly how I felt yesterday and woke up today like ummm huuhhh what? I’m back to normal? Lol!! Last night I was begging God to take me now and boy am I glad he didn’t listen lol!! This was a great piece!!!

  25. Very humerus but exactly what I was searching for to explain my symptoms. I had a hard time differentiating between food poisoning and a 24 hour bug except that I had a high temperature for most of the time. I woke up about a day and a half later feeling fine! Thanks for the fun info.

  26. This happened to me exactly step by step the day after Christmas. I honestly thought I was going to die as I was curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. I remember texting my boyfriend (who was unfortunately out of town) that I loved him very much and that he could have everything I owned. It was the worst feeling ever. Thankfully my brother trekked through the snow over 100 miles away to come save me! Did I mention he had to kick down the door? Awful!

  27. A few differences for me: I skipped stage 8 entirely, because I was so sick that I couldn’t even keep water down. During stage 5, I was sure that I’d die of dehydration. When I hit stage 9, all I could eat was a couple ravioli and a handful of crackers. And my giraffe figurine is not from Nigeria, it’s from Djibouti. Other than that, spot on.

  28. Nyla Jean Paul

    rofl lol. That was totally me a couple of hours ago. I seriously thought I was dying and thought my body would be discovered by my neighbor or something. I called my parents who lived four hours away to let them know. I freaked out….lol. However, on the serious side it was the most scariest thing to encounter on your own. Still, I’m thankful to God that I am able to laugh and smile again and say, “Hey their beautiful…you are looking mighty fine this morning, welcome back!!!! Anywho, thanks for the helpful but oh so pleasant article. Two thumbs up.

  29. Yes girl! back in october i had the 24 hour bug. after school and practice i got the weirdest stomache ache.. went home, tried to go to the bathroom and that helped a little.. then i went to bed, well, tried too. then woke up, went to my moms room, layed down for litterally 4 minutes, stood up and threw up all over the floor. blahh. :( i felt better though.. then went to bed, woke up at 4am and threw up again! then stayed home from school and my mom was making soup and i layed on the couch in the living room. sipped some water, then went to the bathroom and threw up AGAIN. -____- at this point i told my mom to take me to the doctor. and she did, and they gave me some shit for my stomache and i immediatley felt better.. it was awful! lol but great story(:

  30. This was me last night! All of it! Even the lack of will to live, just to escape the horrible feeling ! This blog gave me a well needed chuckle this morning. Thanks!

  31. You forgot the part where you have to throw up and go diarrhea simultaneously and have to decide which would be worse to clean up.

  32. steve hillier

    This was weirdly acurate about what I’ve been through 2day. Its 1 in the morning now and I’m defiantly ready for food now yay!!

  33. Thanks for the write up! I’m hoping I’m close to the end I got the crud one week after I had the other crud, and the vacation is in a short day to leave for !

  34. I had the panic attack. Yup…awesome. And now I’ve eaten taco salad, a PBJ, pizza, and cheese-its. Help!!!!!

  35. Going through this right now..very accurate! I been throwing up all last night and now all I seem to be able to do is drink water, eat Popsicles, and lay down. Makes my head and stomach hurt when I walk around :( hoping I feel better when I wake up tomorrow.

  36. This is hilarious . I definitely felt horrible, only my boss did not believe me. We had a staff meeting then I went bravely home trying not to throw up while on train.

  37. This is so reassuring. I stared the “process”about 18 hours ago. Everything you mentioned, I felt. Tried tomato juice and top Ramen about 30 minutes ago, lost i all within ten minutes, fortunately into the commode. Doc says if it continues by noon tomorrow to give him a call on his cell.

  38. Wow! Thank goodness I’m not alone.
    This escapade all started after tea and I too did all the soul searching…maybe it was the sausages, maybe… Just to add to it all I’m having the house renovated and the only available toilet is downstairs. My husband was hundreds of miles away on a mountain. And so, as I lay on the bathroom floor, sweating and shivering time about, I came to terms with the “this is it” moment. Never imagined I would finish my days on a grotty bathroom floor – alone.
    Here I am, almost 24 hours later. A survivor. I bore it alone and came out the other end (no pun intended).
    Respect to all other brave comrades.

  39. This is exactly how I have spent the past 24 hours!!! Very accurate except I’ve had diarrhea too :P

  40. This was brilliant! Pretty much explained my night down to every last detail!

  41. Leigh Greenaway-Lock

    Hi from Australia .We call it the 24hr both ends virus .You are soooo scared to go to the toilet because you are not sure which end is going to come up.*****
    A really good laugh !!Thanks
    Leigh from Melbourne

  42. You nailed it. Those potatoes look great.

  43. Wow…just went through this Tuesday…although I just had the headache,chills,naseaou, and fatigue. This article told me exactly what happened…I woke up the next morning totally fine like I was never sick! So weird.

  44. I’m somewhere around 6 3/4. I’m past the 2 am panic that I’m going to die of dehydration, but I’m still miserable and my stomach is tichy. I’ve been more or less up and sick since 11pm last night. I’m hoping to wake up feeling fine tomorrow. But this gave me a good chuckle. Then I read the “Always” post and I don’t know if it’s being sick and miserable or the poignancy of Snape, but I was cryiiiiing.

  45. You hit the nail on the head. I think I am dying!

  46. I went through this yesterday. All twelve steps. I threw up, had body aches, chills and fatigue. I’m feeling better today but not yet 100%. I’ve had toast, crackers, chicken noodle soup, water, and ginger ale. Even though I feel better I still plan to rest today.

  47. I had the stomach flu yesterday. I felt nauseous most of the day but thought it was some super strong coffee I had at work. By the time I left work I felt worse. I live in Chicago and take the train to work. Sitting on the train, I had to throw up, in my lunch bag. That’s right, on the train. I didn’t have a choice and thank God no one ever heard. Two people were on the train and the sounds of the train drowned it out. And it gets better. It came out the other end as well. It didn’t go thru my pants or my coat. I got off at the next stop, threw my lunch bag in the garbage and got in a cab.

    Now I have to buy a new lunch bag and hope I never have to use it as a barf bag ever again.

  48. This is so amazingly accurate. I even ordered mashed potatoes! Hopefully on stage 12 now. Thanks for the uplifting post. :)

  49. *lying on the couch (self-confessed grammar nazi here, too!)

    Ergh today is my recovery day from this 24 hours of hell- nausea, a little vomiting, the complete lack of desire to eat anything. I haven’t hit the ravenous stage yet, just eating small bland meals as the inspiration takes me. Was well amused to see that I’m not the only one who leaps to the death conclusion!

  50. Just had that last night my stomach was saying wth lol My day started normal ate salmon for dinner a hour later babyyy I was a hot mess.I took Malanta sip on Ginger Tea room was spinning like I was doing The Hustle dont forget the SWEATS ! Lol finally God had mercy on me and Fell asleep in as deep coma .I woke up at 6 a.m needing WATER but feeling much better

  51. This was me a few hours ago. I woke up and I felt like I had a fever. My stomach was a little queasy and when I went to the bathroom, it wasn’t pretty. for stage 4, I almost threw up but I choked it down. Then I took a 2 hour nap, and when I woke up, I felt perfectly fine and had a sudden craving for chocolate and ramen noodles, and now here I am. this article made my day.


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