I have been carefully watching the years go by with the knowledge that catastrophic illnesses have taken out the members of my dad’s family starting at the ripe old age of 57. So as I approach each year that someone has died, I find myself wondering if I ought not to get my life in order, just in case.
This year is a biggie. My dad died nine days short of his 59th birthday. As my 59th birthday got closer and closer, I was feeling pretty confident I would make it. A few chest pains here and there, some wild, spastic heartbeats…just your regular stuff. All I had to do was live past 4:20pm on Friday, the 13. Then I would have lived longer than he and I could look forward to maybe out-living my Grandmother who died at 59.
Drove very carefully to work Wednesday night, thought about stopping for a burger but decided against it…could get food poisoning or choke on a delicious chunk of *&^%$$# hamburger. Nooo, I’m not takin’ no chances…I’ve only got 16 hours and 20 minutes to go.
I took the elevator up to my client’s apartment…wasn’t going to chance falling on the stairs (you’ve read my posts on my falls haven’t you??). Yup, this is gonna be another one under the old XXXL belt.
The second I walked thru that door, I knew all bets were off and the clock was ticking. My client was slumped over on the couch moaning in pain while the putrid smell of vomit and diarrhea was so thick that I had to take a pair of scissors and cut openings in the air just to breathe. Now most of you are wondering why I would find this death-inducing? A huge pain in the arse, yes, but deadly? Seriously?
I happen to have a sever case of Emetophobia. A life-long, disabling, medication-popping, life altering, can’t even think of anything else, case.
I have had it for as long as I can remember and it has affected my life in a way that nothing else has. Weird thing is, I haven’t actually thrown up since I was nine or ten. But I remember those handful of times VIVIDLY. The sounds, the smell, the taste, the warmth as it splashes in your lap, the burning at the back of your throat, the gush of water right before it comes gushing out, pushing it’s self out any hole it encounters and all the while your heart is racing and pounding out of your chest and you think you can’t breathe. And it just keeps coming, wave after wave. Oh ya, 50 years later and I still remember it like it was minutes ago.
I won’t go into how this phobia crippled me as a normal, functional human being, I’ll leave that for another time but suffice it to say that walking into that apartment knowing I had to be there for a minimum of 12 hours with the distinct possibility of getting it myself, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. My first reaction is to run from it, practically bathe in bleach and hide at home and let no one in until flu season is over. But given the fact that I am a somewhat responsible adult all I could do was keep praying, “God PLEASE don’t let me get this” over and over and over.
I tried the best I could to disinfect everything I could think of that we both would touch but when you are handling body fluids, I kinda think all bets are off. Had I been able to open the sliding glass door for some fresh air that might have helped but my client was freezing as it was from losing so much body fluid. So there I was, stuck in a tiny apartment, with the heat cranked way over 80 degrees, emptying puke buckets and helping with the changing of extremely soiled adult diapers….all the while breathing in the mixture of aromas.
Morning comes and I can leave and I head home, tired but not too worse for wear. Still feeling OK. Get home, do my thing, go lay down for a couple of hours and get back up to go back to work. While thinking of what to have for supper, in the back of my mind I’m saying ,”You know, Roxie (my mind calls me Roxie), whatever goes down, very well may come back up, so you might want to pass up those Spaghettio’s, and that burrito with all the veggies and exnay on the pizza”. Once again Roxie was right.
Back at work that night, the smell had subsided a bit and the bodily fluids from the North End had ended but were coming fast and furious from the South. A doctor had been consulted and his advice, “Just gotta let it run it’s course”. Obviously this man had not seen the vast volume of liquid that can come out of an elderly person! I could give you my opinion of this “diagnosis” but for legal reasons, I shall refrain. Anyway, this night was better, I sat up shopping on Ebay (whenever I need to escape, I head to Ebay) until after 4am and then laid down on a piece of foam on the floor instead of my blow up bed cause I knew I would be up in just an hour or so.
My alarm went off at 6am and I woke and I felt pretty good. Just a little touch of “gas” which I thought I could discretely pass. OOOOPPPSSS….not gas. As I was getting up off the floor, I could feel an intense pressure building in my gut and my fear was that I would have to battle my client for use of the throne. Thankfully they were still asleep.
I won’t gross you out with what occurred in that tiny room with NO FAN, but I can tell you that it was a totally new experience. I knew I was in for even more “chills and spills” as an icy coldness enveloped my body starting from my feet and by the time it hit my head, I knew either I made a run for my foam on the floor or I was going to hit the bathroom tile and it was gonna hurt. As I was lurching for the floor a new sensation hit me. My stomach attempted to push out it’s contents. (OK, kids, it’s quiz time….what do I suffer from so severly that I avoid using words that even begin with a “V”?) I had no warning, no dry mouth, no salivating, no pre-burp, nothing. Just my stomach punching itself. Now, since it has been decades since anything has come up that way, it must have been pretty atrophied as nothing came up. But…something came out somewhere else.
I had about five seconds to comprehend what just had happened when my body decided to try it again, only a bit harder this time. Same results….drought in the north and a flood in the south. By now, I am terrified, I have NO control over my body, I am soiling myself at an alarming rate and my body is attempting to destroy years of therapy by doing that which I have obsessed over for my whole life! Plus, I only have 10 more hours to break my dad’s life record and I will be so eternally pissed if I aspirate on some vomit and die just hours away from out-living him. Twice more I was emptied of my lower contents while the stomach punches became harder but still the gates held. I was frantically grabbing for my anti-anxiety pills which also have a anti-emetic effect all the while trying to stay on my stomach and on the foam while holding onto my puke bucket. I was shaking so bad I could barely get my pill container open (thank God I leave my stuff on the floor as there was no way I could have gotten up). I chewed up a couple of those babies not caring about OD’ing on them…just trying to get my terror under some kind of control. I dug out my cell phone and called my husband to come and get me and as luck would have it, he was out of town. I tried my daughter, eventho she has three babies, I was hoping maybe her husband was home so he could watch them but no answer…I was getting hysterical. Here I am, totally unable to get up off the floor, with my pants full of poopie, probably going to be filling the bucket with delicacies from the past few days and any moment my client will be getting up and I have no idea how they are going to be feeling and heaven help them if they need me! It dawned on me that maybe my almost 82 year old mom could come and get me!!!
I quickly dialed her number and as expected she answered her phone. (This young generation could take some lessons about answering phone calls that come from family at odd hours….do you really think we are calling you to “chat” at 6am????) “Momma, I’m so sick, can you come and get me”? Now, if my kid called me and asked me that, I would ask two questions, “Where are you?” and “Do you need anything” and I would be grabbing my keys as I spoke, not even bothering to change out of whatever I was wearing, etc. My mom, on the other hand, decides to play 20 questions. “Isn’t Scott home”? “Did you try Jodi” “Does O know?” “I don’t know if I can find it” “How will I get in?” I think she was trying to get in some conversation time since I don’t always call her back when she calls to chit chat.
Mom, I’m laying on someone’s floor, with crap seeping out of my pants clutching a puke bucket like my purse on the elevator ride up the Effel Tower, do we really need to talk about this now? Just come and get me! And bring me some sweats and a pair of undies and what ever else you can find to stuff in my back side for the ride home….and lots of towels….
By now my client is up and is horrified to find me on their floor when I should have been up making breakfast. I must have been a pretty sight….ashen face, shaking, big brown stain growing across the back of my black and white abstract print cotton leggings….now that I think of it, I probably looked like that zebra from Madagascar when he is in some awkward position.
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remembered I had my pajamas in my suitcase which as Providence would have it, I had taken out of my client’s room eventho I knew I wouldn’t be using my blow-up bed or changing. I crawled over to my suitcase and got them out and my client offered a pair of adult diapers (those of us that have used them prefer the term, “disposable panties”!). I was in no position to go down that mental road of what this could possibly mean to my street cred, so I gratefully accepted them and crawled into the bathroom. Yup, I am seriously wondering if I will indeed make it to 4:21pm and my record- breaking. This is some nasty shit (pun intended) and I have no reason to believe I have seen the worst of it.
On a pleasant side note…those adult diapers were very comfortable and not at all diapery-feeling…you actually forgot you had them on until you needed them and then you were damn grateful!!!
About an hour later, my mom calls from the lobby to my cell phone and wants me to let her in….from my cell phone…..I try to explain to her that she has to dial the apt. number so she tells me to stay on my cell phone while she does it and while she finds the elevator and on the ride up and as she walks down the hall and as she knocks at the door. All I want is to collapse in her backseat with my adult diapers and puke bucket and a mess of towels and die. Do I really need a play-by-play of her adventures in the hallway?
So in she comes, and after a minute or two she introduces herself “seeing as I forgot to”. Seriously? I am at death’s door and I should remember my manners?
Normally when I leave for the day, no one comes until after dinner to be with my client but since they had been so ill, they wanted someone to be with them at least until they had their breakfast and could see if they could manage for the day on their own. I had called the company as soon as I knew I had to leave and so they were sending someone over and she would be there in 30 minutes or less. When my mom found that out, she asked my client if she wanted us to stay until the girl arrived! ARE YOU FLIPPIN’ KIDDING ME, MA? Thankfully my client felt they would be just fine until my replacement came and so we left.
I do not remember much about the 35 minute ride home except my darling momma talked the whole way and drove like she had uncontrollable spasms in her braking foot. Once I almost flew off the back seat onto the floor. (There was more than one reason I chose to lay in the back seat where I could not see anything!)
Finally I am home! My mom wants to know if I want her to come in with me and stay for awhile. No thank you. I like to be sick all by myself. I do not want an audience. Especially an audience with a propensity to give old-wives-tales advice. If I let her stay, heaven only knows what she will try to make me take. We decide she will stay until the Mall opens up so she can go and do some last minute Xmas shopping. As long as she is up and out, might as well kill two birds with one stone. Interestingly enough, somehow she has managed to be in full make-up. The woman could never be a first-responder….”wait until I brush my teeth and put on some eye-make up and a spray or two of perfume and fix my hair”. “Who do you think they want to show up? Someone that looks good or someone that looks like they just rolled out of bed?”
Finally it’s just me, my bed, my puke bucket, and the drug-induced sleep that chewing a few Xanax will give me….oh ya, and my ever so comfy “fancy lady pants” *
*taken from an episode of Hot In Cleveland where Victoria gets a chance to do a commercial in Japan and it turns out to be for adult diapers which translates to “fancy lady pants” in English
p.s…this is day four and I still am not eating much and feeling weak and nauseated but on the positive side…there has been some weight loss as my thighs are no longer setting themselves on fire from the constant friction!
Keeping you informed of all that is news worthy,
Your Mad Queen (who loves her momma just they way she is and is thankful for everything she does for her and I would not trade her for any other momma!)