Recently I visited the home of a very sweet and fun lady who is also chronically ill. She was having a bad day and worried that she might throw up in front of me. I told her not to sweat it because I have one of the best, meaning most embarrassing, puke stories ever.
And so, without further ado, my puke story. Because humiliation--much like stupidity and misery--is meant to be shared.
Last summer, we hosted an incredible young man for a week. He was here for the same (now annual) young writers’ retreat that I blogged about a few weeks ago. The night Jacob arrived, I started feeling a little icky. The next morning I woke up with tonsils so swollen I could barely talk or eat. Strep! I have an extensive history with Strep, so I’m pretty good at recognizing it.
I went in to see the nurse who actually recoiled when she saw my Strep bugs growing in the doohickey they use to test the skin they’ve scraped off your throat with the barf stick. (Aren’t you impressed with my knowledge of medical terms?) I got a shot. You know where. And then the nurse practitioner offered to give me a prescription for a narcotic pain-killer. I did the Rambo-Mom thing and told him, “No. I’ll be fine.” But it sounded like, “Nn, Ul b fund.” He asked if it felt like I was swallowing nails. I nodded.
So I came home with a safe little syrup that only had half the power of Vicadin. I took the smallest recommended dose, one teaspoon, and lay down on the couch. Nothing. No relief. No wooziness.
Fast forward four hours. I’d promised my friend, Dianna, who organized the writing event, that I would participate in a special critique night with the teens. I didn’t want to let her down, so I took a teaspoon and a half of the narcotic, choked down some soup, and got in the van with my mom driving, and Jacob, our Southern gentleman house guest, riding in the back seat.
By the time we arrived at our host’s home, I was dizzy, nauseated, and shaking. I managed to get downstairs to the quiet basement, where I proceeded to hallucinate every time I closed my eyes for the next three or so hours. The odd thing was, I knew I was hallucinating, so it wasn’t scary, just mildly entertaining. I missed the entire meeting, but when it was time to go home, I was starting to feel better.
I got back in the van, ready to be home and in bed, but as we drove, my cold sweats returned and my stomach roiled. By the time Mom pulled the van into the driveway, it was clear I’d have to run for it. In retrospect, I should have just found a dark corner of the yard or maybe headed for the pond. (Wouldn’t that have made DH happy?)
I scrambled up the steps, hand clamped over my mouth, but the bathroom was just too far away. You know how when you put your finger over the garden hose, it creates pressure and the water comes out with the force of a fire hydrant? It’s the same with barf. I managed to spray the walls from my foyer, down the hall, and into the bathroom. Yuk!
When I emerged from the bathroom, I found my mother and our house guest, cleaning the walls. I was mortified! I’d met this guy all of a day ago, and here he was scrubbing vomit from my walls. I feebly protested Jacob’s assistance, and he said in his adorable, Southern drawl, “Aw, this is nothing ma’am. Last week I learned how to artificially inseminate cows.” Later my mom told me they had to get out a step stool because neither of them could reach as high as my missile-launcher-mouth could.
You may ask why I would willingly share this with everybody. The answer is that moments like these, while miserable at the time, are meant to keep us humble and maybe ease another’s discomfort later on. Otherwise, those embarrassing moments are useless, and who wants to endure humiliation like that for nothing?