Characteristic Wheel-like Appearance

(If you are not related by blood, feel free to skip this one.)


Rotavirus. Mesmerizing, isn’t it?

Sometimes you think a house guest is never going to leave. Meet Rotavirus. He turned up on our doorstep a couple days after Christmas, wouldn’t tell us his name and left just a few days later, around January 1st. He brought frequent and mucky bowel movements (BMs), the odd projectile hurl and a mild fever along with him, all of which we attributed to the five molars Tau was pushing at the time. We were glad to see Rotavirus go.

And then, just when we’d begun enjoying whole nights of cough-free, peaceful sleep, he came back. Only we didn’t recognize him at first. Again, we blamed the fever, the diarrhea, the crankiness on the new eye teeth coming through. I swear Tau gets the runs every time he teethes. Until I got them too and I’m pretty sure I’m done with the whole teething thing! But what moved through me in a day, hit Tau’s small body hard. He ran a temp of 101 for about 3 days, had a streaming nose, phlegmy cough, and of course the infernal pile of diapers — peaking on the Wednesday or so at about one every 40 minutes.

Dave took off Monday with him and I stayed home Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, I went into work very early and came home at lunch time so that Dave could get into the lab for the afternoon. And Friday, Dave stayed home again. All along, we were reluctant to take him to the doctor because when we did so on New Year’s Day for the earlier bout, we were told it was a common-garden-variety stomach virus and it just had to run its course. All we could do was keep him hydrated and slowly work him through the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).

But when nothing had changed come Saturday (going on seven days), we took him into the local walk-in clinic. Only to be reassured that, yes, it was a stomach virus that needed to run its course (7-10 days), we were wonderful parents who were doing all the right things, and there was no need to worry our obsessive little heads. It’s like washing your car and then watching the storm clouds gather and break. No sooner were we were home from the clinic than Tau perked right up and the BMs started getting firmer. Sunday? About the same. We heaved a sigh, shipping him off to daycare the next morning, and hoping the bug was well gone.

Monday and Tuesday, Tau’s teachers said he was a bit mizzy each morning and would cry for no reason. When Dave picked him up Tuesday, the little man was ashen and clung to him like a leech, but as soon as they got home and he got some juice and light crackers into him, he was all smiles, started booting around the house and ate a full dinner.

There is a new little boy in Tau’s class who has never been in daycare before. Never even had a babysitter for that matter. He’s been in the toddler room for about three weeks now and this child screamed non stop, all day, for the first week. He’s a bit better now apparently — only starts crying at around 10 a.m. when he gets tired and cranky. Our theory is that, after a week home with both of us and still feeling a bit wiped out, Tau just couldn’t hack being around this crying kid all morning.

So, such has been the pattern this week: Tau gets upset throughout the morning, gets all worked up, coughs, pukes and then crashes and has a good old sleep. When we get him home, he eats a wonderful dinner and is thoroughly happy. And he has slept like an angel at night all this week, which certainly made up for the sleepless nights and frequent diaper changes all last week.

Then on Wednesday, I get a call at work saying Tau is running a mild fever again (read: he’s worked himself up to such a state that his head is hot), he’s coughed and then puked all his lunch (what happens when he gets overwrought and something triggers the gag reflex), is generally miserable and perhaps I should come and get him.

What is a mother supposed to say? The fact that we’d spent most of the previous work week juggling schedules and work deadlines at the mercy of supportive bosses to be home with him doesn’t matter. Not when your kid is sick. What made it imperative for me to get him was that his diapers were runny again. If another kid was clearly still showing signs of diarrhea caused by a virus, I would be highly pee’d off if the child’s parents didn’t take them home.  That, and the fact that our daycare center’s policy is pretty much no tolerance on diarrhea. I brought him home and immediately made a pediatrician appointment for the next day. Eleven days is enough already!

But as you can see from this video, after his nap and a good dinner, he was full of the joys of living again. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our kid on Rotavirus.

To cut this already far-too-long story short, Dave took Tau to our own doctor, who was the one who finally gave our mystery house guest a name. Here is an excerpt from the CDC’s website on this villain:

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among children, resulting in the hospitalization of approximately 55,000 children each year in the United States and the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide. The incubation period for rotavirus disease is approximately 2 days. The disease is characterized by vomiting and watery diarrhea for 3 – 8 days, and fever and abdominal pain occur frequently. Immunity after infection is incomplete, but repeat infections tend to be less severe than the original infection.


A rotavirus has a characteristic wheel-like appearance when viewed by electron microscopy (the name rotavirus is derived from the Latin rota, meaning “wheel”). Rotaviruses are nonenveloped, double-shelled viruses. The genome is composed of 11 segments of double-stranded RNA, which code for six structural and five nonstructural proteins. The virus is stable in the environment.

Yes, we could have told you that. But at thirteen days and counting, it looks like this guy is finally packing his bags and leaving. Sayonara Rotavirus. So long sucker!


One response to “Characteristic Wheel-like Appearance

  1. Poor boy, poor mommy.

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