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DD's phobia around vomiting is damaging sibling relationship

(11 Posts)
BackAche21 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:34:01

My DD is 6 and is quite fastidious about hygiene, and is becoming quite fearful of anyone vomiting. Within the last year she has had maybe one bout with a stomach bug and she hated it (who wouldn't) but also coped quite well with it and bounced back fine.

Last week her brother, age 3, got a bug and was sick just once at bed time. She didn't see it happen but she heard it and ran into our bed to sleep there - they share a room. I was ok with that as it meant I could sleep in her bed and keep an eye on him over night.

He was pretty much better the next day, but DD has since refused to even be in the same room as him. Today was the 3rd day of this. She has refused to eat at the table, to be in the car, to sleep in the same room or even to play in the same room. If he is elsewhere she is fine - her normal happy self. If he comes near she starts to cry in an afraid way but won't say what's wrong.

We got to the end of our tethers with this today and ended up physically forcing her into the car but she freaked out completely. We've tried a lot of being kind gentle and encouraging her to talk but it isn't working. Her little brother has been really sad today as he has worked out she's avoiding him and I'm out of my depth don't know how to reassure her and how to limit how it could affect him. Plus it makes every meal time and activity impossible and stressful.

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 23-Nov-14 20:37:32

I can't really blame her

When either of my two are ill I confine them for 48 hours to try & stop the spread (own towels, stay in own room well child uses our en suite instead of the main bathroom.

fairgame Sun 23-Nov-14 20:45:05

Gosh that sounds quite extreme and stressful for everyone. What exactly is it she is scared of? It is the germs?
Could you bath DS in front of her so that she can see the germs have been washed off him?
Or maybe slowly bring them back together so make ds and dd sit at opposite ends of the table at dinner until she feels safer to move nearer him.
I've not had any experience of this i'm just throwing some idea's out there.
It might be worth ringing your local CAMHS service this week and see if they will give you some advice over the phone. It sounds very obsessive, they might be able to advice how to overcome this.

BackAche21 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:47:04

What about when the sick child is better? It would make sense if DS was still ill, but he hasnt been sick for 36 hours.

fairgame Sun 23-Nov-14 20:50:56

Does she understand that he is better though and that the bug has gone? That's why i thought of the bath idea so that she can see that he is clean.
My child has SN and everything has to be visual, he doesn't have the ability to know something without seeing it.

elvisola Sun 23-Nov-14 20:51:24

Yes my DD is like this. She is 7 it has been going on for 2 years. Emtophobia kind of runs in the family so it's not a huge surprise. It got to the point where she wouldn't even read the word sick in a book.

We haven't gone for counselling or anything yet but we are trying to increase her exposure, for example talking freely about vomiting, laughing when we say we feel sick. It sounds stupid but it helps to reduce the fear. Even now if somebody close to me says they are going to be sick my flight reaction kicks in and I am gone. I find it incredibly stressful to be around people who feel ill.

Talk openly about it, explain it in a logical way so it's less scary but she will calm down as the memory fades.

BackAche21 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:55:25

Thanks @fairgame. What is CAHMS and how do I get a number? My DD is hard to get information from. She won't even volunteer that it's to do with DS or him being sick. I've worked that out from guesses and questions, which she has eventually nodded agreement also worried about DS as he has really taken it to heart today.

fairgame Sun 23-Nov-14 20:58:12

CAMHS is children's mental health services. You might have to google it for your local area.
I'm not saying your dd has a mental health problem btw but in my local area you can ring them for advice without having a proper referral. It's different in each area though.
How does she cope with school friends when they have been off ill?

BackAche21 Sun 23-Nov-14 21:05:39

Thanks @elvisola. A lot of what you're saying chimes with me. DP has quite a few chronic ailments (high blood pressure, stomach problems, feet problems) plus has had nearly a fortnight quite unwell with a chest infection, including days off work and a 3-day migraine. During this patch he also he a chest X-ray and convinced himself he had lung cancers (he's a bit prone to overdramatising health things). I find this all stressful and am not v sympathetic as I rely on him to help with family/domestic stuff. I guess perhaps DD has picked up on all this? Feels quite challenging to laugh about it all. Maybe it's our mental health, not hers!

elvisola Sun 23-Nov-14 21:11:40

My DH is like that, he is quite the hypochondriac but actually it boils down to an anxiety disorder which he takes anti depressants to control. DDs behaviour around sickness is very anxiety based, she will literally work herself up into a frenzy before anyone even vomits so I liken it to an anxiety disorder inherited from DH.

I am one of those stoic, nothing gets me down kind of people so that's why I am trying to manage it by trying to normalise it. I think involving CAHMS(for my family) would just be reinforcing it's something to worry about so I am trying not to go down that route for now.

TheFairyCaravan Sun 23-Nov-14 21:15:13

I'm an emetophobe. It's really horrible, especially as a mum when all you want to do is run as far from possible from your sick child, but you can't.

In your shoes (and I have done this with DS1 when he had OCD) I would make an appointment with the GP. Tell the receptionist you wish to discuss DD, but you don't want to bring her with you. I booked a double appointment. I found it really helpful to be able to get across to the GP just how DS1 was behaving when he wasn't there because I didn't have to worry about what language I used because i didn't need to be concerned that he would be thinking that I was blaming him.

With some luck at that appointment the GP will be able to refer you to CAHMs. I would hope that they might be able to do some age appropriate treatment to help her.

I totally understand how she is feeling right now. DS2 had Norovirus 2 weeks ago. He projectile vomited all over the bathroom just after DH had left for work. I had to clean it up, but it was hard. It went on all day and night. I was very proud that I managed to do it, but it was a week before I could give him a hug. He's almost 18 so he understands now, but they didn't when they were little.

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