So people I spend time with had been passing this bug around like it was a fragrant joint, and just as obviously I could smell it coming my way. Although I tended to wake in the early AM hours and flee to the hermitage of my parent’s house, the contagion still got me. I was cruising round the backyard with my dad, learning by rote all the details of some dilapidated car he was restoring, when the sickness hit me. The dull g-forces in my stomach had, in one powerful moment, become a cyclone of queasy movement. I ran to a grassy area and left the history of my poor diet all over the blades.
“You’ve lost all your colour!” Dad remarked.
“No I haven’t. It’s right there being eaten by Cupid” (my sister’s dog), I blurted with the same vomitary action. There’s something DNA-deep that prevents a young man from revealing to his pop how bad he really feels. Some dumb machismo or something.
Anyway, this was a situation that was no peach, because I actually had to make a rare appearance at a dinner later that evening, one which I really didn’t want to go to. Being there with a chaos of seismic action in my stomach would not make it a more leisurely affair. There was literally no way I was getting out of this engagement without losing a limb or severing a major artery so I returned to cursing my fate– a habitual gripe by now.
Since I had only made the one piece of gastronomic art so far, I decided that I was some special breed of human that was immune to the ailments of others and that I must just have coincidentally needed to spew. Yes, that was it, I take fish oil and drink spirulina and am robustly healthy whereas everyone around me lives minute-by-minute or faster. I can’t get gastro. How can something just induce your body to vomit if you don’t want to? It can’t, I decided, and I resolved to be well.
I jumped in my car and headed out to my girlfriends house, where I would assure her I was fine to come to dinner, pale faced and reeking of nausea or not. Driving there, wondering if I would spew over the relative clean of the car’s interior, I felt my temperature tangibly rising, like I was driving into the sun. Soon as I walked into my girlfriend’s room she gave me a knowing look that said, “You’re about to let me down again.”
Well, yeah, I was. I am, in fact, so good at this I can do it without trying– even going so far as to make myself explosively sick just to switch up my M.O. I think she saw that I was stoically trying to fight this minotaur though, as I promised to still come, that shattered her frustration so that her voice broke down into all tender care.
“You’ll be okay. It’ll only last for 12 hours.” She reassured me, speaking from experience.
“You bitch, don’t tell me that.” I
Long story short, she heads to dinner and I head to a bucket that has been conveniently stationed beside the bed where I am sweating/shivering like a cat that picks an unwatched place to curl up and die. I am literally vomiting in ten minute intervals until my stomach is as empty as my will to live. The gentle silence of death would be preferable to the pornographic mess I am/ am making. I lose all sense of time in a febrile shapelessness. Hours pass into seconds and I fall asleep and dream for a thousand years to only wake up and reject the water I had drunk 5 minutes ago. I am so dehydrated but my body torturously refuses to let me drink.
Here’s the jewel in the ornament; the high point or crescendo of my free perdition: I go to get up and take my sea legs to the bathroom when I hear, from the bottom of the bucket of nameless contents, a CLUNK. Was it a lighter falling in? No, I suddenly realise with some nerve-response intuition. I plunge my hand into the ordure up to my forearm and extract my phone, which I can see it still working. I’m so unbelieving I don’t even curse my fate. I just wobble out to the kitchen and chuck it into a wok-ful of rice someone was preparing to cook. Mia Culpa but I’m in dire straits friend.
At sometime around 5 AM I manage to full into a species of sleep and get maybe an hour or two of rest. When dawn finally breaks and I leave the room, unaccountably feeling much better. Almost like I hadn’t just lived out the opening scene of Apocalypse Now as a budget Martin Sheen. Like I hadn’t just been up vomiting consistently through a beetle-dark night, losing every ounce of water my body had managed to hoard.
All in all it was a cleansing experience. I’m sure my body lost many harmful toxins as well as all it’s moisture, colour and ability to compartmentalise. I also lost a phone, the replacement phone that was filling in for my other, long gone one. So now I’m phoneless and happy again. Take the good with the bad, like a Ying Yang.
Final review: Although it saved me the pain of going to a dinner and masquerading as someone I’m not and never will be, it did cost me a phone, create many hours of near-death agony, and result in my having to get my own emesis on me. The post-ayahuasca cleanness afterward was nice though, as well as the hearty sympathy that was meted my way with injunctions to relax. I feel ambivalent about this occasion, and almost unqualified to grade the illness fairly as I haven’t had gastro since I was in primary school. It’s definitely stepped its aggression up, which is a nice touch, while reducing the actual duration of the sickness. I guess the only way you can tell if this illness is for you is to go sample it yourself. It may not be a symphony, but it’s damn catchy. 6/10 would conditionally recommend.