CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome) patients do all kinds of things to help make their nausea and sickness go away. My episodes last on average between 9-11 days at a time. But it’s not always clockwork. I had one spell at the beginning of August that lasted 13 days, and another spell toward the end of August that lasted 5 days. Here are eight things that I immediately turn to when I know that an episode has hit:
1. Make the Room Dark
Similar to migraines, and often referred to as abdominal migraines, CVS brings with it a sensitivity to light. Shutting off the light, having dark curtains, and not looking at screens, which are bright, all help me considerably.
2. Take Hot Baths
It’s unbelievable how much relief can be brought by taking a hot bath. And when I say hot, I mean as hot as you can stand. The warmer, the better. It relaxes your stomach muscles, all of your muscles, relieving the tension that is brought from getting sick. This is something that I always share with the parents of children with CVS. I have used hot showers and baths to ward off episodes for years.
3. Eat Ice Chips Only
If there’s one thing that I have refrain myself from doing in an episode it’s chugging ice water as fast as I can. My stomach always feels like it’s on fire and the cold water makes me feel so much better. But doing this will only make you get sick again. This is why I start with ice chips because it gives your mouth and insides relief, without the immediate sickness to follow.
4. Find a Quiet Space
Again, like head migraines, CVS patients experience heightened senses and are sensitive to sounds, as well as light. Finding a quiet space is key to getting the rest you will need to get out of the episode. The heightened senses makes you feel like everything is more extreme than it really is.
5. Take Nausea Medicines
This is usually the first thing that I try. I take whatever nausea medicines I have to help in trying to abort an episode. Once you are in the episode, there is little that can be done to stop from getting sick. And even when I have been successful in warding off an attack, an episode happens eventually anyway, it’s just a matter of time. I carry Ondansetron with me wherever I go, in case I have an attack while I’m out of the house. It has saved me multiple times in restaurants or at events. Sometimes I will take Dramamine, although it makes me very groggy. It’s really helpful when I want to sleep in an episode, if you can keep it down long enough. Pepto Bismol is another go to.
I read somewhere in my research on CVS that sleep somehow resets the brain over time and is what heals an episode the most. I believe it. Sleep is the biggest weapon against our disease. In fact, a lack of might even be what triggers one. I used to stay up super late and then wake up early every morning (I can’t get enough of life!). A deprivation leaves my immune system feeling weak and tired. When in an episode, sleep will come eventually, due to exhaustion of getting sick.
I get sick every 15 minutes, like clockwork, when in an episode. I can remember being two and a half hours from home and having one strike. I tried driving as close to home as I could get without passing out. I stopped at every off ramp, got sick, then drove another 15 miles. I didn’t make it but three cycles of that before having to pull completely off the highway, get sick, and passed out on a country road. My husband and father had to come rescue me.
Sleep will come, but it’s better if you can keep a consistent sleep routine that allows enough rest. I sometimes take naps during the day that can last for hours. Even though I think, should I be sleeping this much, I know that my body might require more rest, given the illness.
7. Untucked Blankets
I need a blanket or something over me in order to rest. However, I would recommend untucked blankets because one second I can be completely freezing feeling (heightened senses, again), and then feel hot, maybe even having a low grade temperature. The unpredictability with this illness is one of the worst things about it. You never know what to expect or when it will be brought on.
8. EME-BAGs (Warning: This one’s pretty gross to read, probably)
When it comes to getting sick, I feel anymore like I am an expert. That’s why I recommend EME-BAGs that you can find when you’re in the hospital. My husband has made it part of the routine to collect as many of those bags at the hospital that we can use for the next episode. I even got a pocket organizer that hangs off the side of my bag that I can then slip the sick bag into to keep it upright. It truly beats getting up and down and running to the bathroom. And it’s not as gross as a bucket, or ice cream tub, like I used to use. Not only that, but the bags travel well and don’t take up much room.
So there you have it, my top eight things that I do to try and survive a CVS episode. Do you have techniques that help you? Leave them in the comments below. The only good thing to come from having this illness has been connecting with others who are suffering and helping each other with our knowledge.
Thanks for reading! For more of my blog posts on Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, see the following: