Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do You Have The Stomach For This?

I imagined I would have some fun shopping stories to share with you this weekend - I had plans to go out with a friend to an excellent group of shops to find her some new things / make getting dressed in the morning a less time-consuming undertaking - but instead I woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach flu.

At first, I didn't know if I'd drunk too much (3 glasses of wine, over 5 hour mega-protein dinner experience) though that seemed unlikely, whether I had food poisoning (I hoped not because a bunch of us went to a new restaurant and we all ate the same thing, more or less) or a bug.

But this morning, when the horrendous nausea switched digestive gears, I had my answer. Note: I write this in a moment of reprieve. Let's hope more of those are in my near future.

Anyway, I've had some time, i.e. a veritable capsule eternity, to consider nausea in detail. IMO, it's the worst feeling anyone can experience (though it isn't pain). It's relentless. When I was pregnant - as I had hours to remember last night - I threw up daily for 7 months. All that to say, it was a knowable, wan, almost manipulative nausea. This shit is "screaming collection officer" strength. This nausea is trying to take me down.

I will admit that the nausea of pregnancy almost did me in (my sister was medicated for hers which was so much worse than mine, even, she couldn't swallow the pills. Give that a moment of consideration.) During my pregnancy I needed only to look at something sideways and it would cause me to vomit on the spot. Like, on the subway (eventually I had to start walking to work to avoid that) or in sidewalk gutters. It was horrible and embarrassing a hundred times over, but it doesn't have an edge on "stomach bug" barf.

At this point, in this illness, time is my friend and my enemy - but more my friend than it was 8 hours ago. People who know me well, know that when I get sick, I become irrationally afraid of death. My sickness, in whatever form it takes, reminds me that one day I'm going to get something and I'm not going to be able to fight it off. You should have seen me in the 3-years of sickness phase known as "my kid's early childhood". I was that air-kiss mother from sitcoms. I know, this is such a cheery post...

Strangely, as I get older, my fear is not as extreme. My perspective on this is that, despite my ever-encroaching movement toward potential infirmity and death, I have experienced ever more recoveries from sickness with each passing year. It's a mind-fuck, yes?

It goes without saying, I'm never going to eat again. Maybe you could regale me with some stories about your own heroic recoveries from acute illness? (Lord knows, if you hit me with some stories about ongoing illness, I will most certainly come to appreciate this particular moment properly.) How do you deal with this sort of thing? Are you stoic? Pathetic? Somewhere in between?


  1. I had this evil illness two weeks ago, or at least it sounds similar -- hits so suddenly and intensely that it seems like food poisoning. Knew it wasn't 'cause my guy and I had eaten the same stuff and he wasn't sick. Then when it hit him early the next day, it was all confirmed. . .
    Thankfully, it was intense but mainly over (bar some weakness, lessened appetite, and mild occasional dizzies for the next few days) by 24 hours. During that period, though, I experienced that same contemplation of death that you describe. While my husband always feels much better after vomiting, I'll do anything to try to avoid it (I swear I trained myself not to -- I went years without ever vomiting, from sheer force of will, and maybe some damn good luck).
    Luckily, the nausea of pregnancy only hit me as a dull nausea, never vomiting. My sister's was like yours, so that by 6 months, she had lost something like 7 pounds, and was only glad (as were the doctors) that she'd begun with enough excess to keep the baby growing.
    I hope you're feeling better very soon. hugs and sympathy from the West Coast . . .

  2. It sounds God awful. I am so sorry.

    My pregnancy nausea was like Mater's but I still hated it. I also had continuous heartburn. I was miserable.

    I haven't had a bug like yours in years and years, but if memory serves it's beyond wicked.

    Sending hugs and good wishes.

  3. "People who know me well, know that when I get sick, I become irrationally afraid of death" -- Once during stomach flu I was convinced I had meningitis and was going to wake up in a hospital with no limbs. I made MrB promise to kill me if that happened. Oh, no, I never overreact....

  4. Better out than in, I always say.

    One valuable lesson I learned is that it is better to vomit from a kneeling position that from sitting.

    I learned this one day after running in the woods at lunch. I found a huge hen-of-the-woods mushroom, and assured by field guides that it is edible, I sampled a small bit.

    You can see where this is going. I ballistically blew chunks the rest of the afternoon. There were probably some episodes that were so deep and convulsive that I thought death was imminent. The chills that followed were unnerving as well.

    If you do decide to eat again, start with crackers and small chips of ice. Keep hydrated!

    Enjoy your convalescence. You earned it.

  5. ow poor you! I am superstitious enough to even not want to read such a post in fear of catching it.

    You reminded me tonight why I am obsessive compulsive about dishes left in a kitchen sink. In my world they are either on the kitchen counter, (momentarily) in the dishwasher or washed, dried straight away and back in the cupboard.

    It's because of when I was pregnant with Liam and I would get up in the morning, go to the loo and then kitchen to get a cup of tea and wham - vomit into the sink. Horrible enough. Much worse when it is full of last night's dishes.

    So when I am at my equally obsessive sister's houses (in 3 weeks) I will be constantly cleaning out all the dishes left in the sink and stacking their dishwashers.

    But now I remember why.

    Feel better soon. xx

  6. F: It was truly horrible. Thank goodness I am restored to health xo

    Susan: Lucky you! On a vaguely related note: Do you have a son or a daughter?

    D.: I relate sadly to this comment. Well, I didn't eat field mushrooms, but the rest of it :-)

    Lisa: That's hilarious - but not, of course. It's amazing some women can manage to vomit for 9 months but still get over it. Mostly.

  7. Wendy: We're like freakish twins.