I know that all of my loyal chickens readers undoubtedly think that I live some kind of glamourous lifestyle. It’s all about the drama, the friendly neighbourhood drug dealers, the shopping, and of course, the brunch. Life in the big city, and all that.
Believe it or not, it’s not always so glamourous.
Yes, that is my tongue, firmly planted in cheek.
This weekend, while en route to a fabulous brunch in a fabulous Mercedes with a fabulous friend, my old foe motion sickness decided to rear her ugly, nausea-inducing head.
She and I go back a long way.
After decades of dealing with, and mostly hiding, this affliction, I am acutely aware of every phase of nausea. I have mastered the technique of deep breathing and the zen-like focus required to ensure that no accidents occur. The goal is always to hide the affliction from others, largely because it causes others to react with panic. The prospect of projectile vomiting has a tendency to bring out strange responses in people. Go figure.
I’ve vomited in cars, out the door of cars, buses, (not boats, but hey, that could change), back alleyways, major city streets, into napkins, bags, towels, and well, probably my hand.
I cover up the shame I feel at receiving so much negative attention by laughing and waving it off.
“I’m fine, I’ll be fine,” I protest meekly, as I die a little inside. I remember telling jokes to an entire bus load of high school kids in the south of Spain, making them laugh in between throwing up into a hastily-obtained trash can. Keep ’em laughing, I say, and maybe they won’t hate you quite as much for retching violently for an hour on the way to Morocco.
It is difficult to explain the shameful feeling. The feeling of being a child again, feeling so incredibly sick, and then being antagonized for it. For being the one who makes difficult, or completely ruins a family outing. Always being the one child left standing with an adult at the theme park as the others run off to enjoy the latest barf-inducing ride.
Feeling nauseous makes me feel weak and vulnerable, and so I do my best to never mention it, and to hide it at every opportunity. I would rather stop talking and stare out the window of the car for two hours, silently repressing sickness than admit to you that I am not well.
Yesterday, I somehow managed to make myself so ill that I had to physically leap out of the Mercedes at a stop sign, for fear of being sick, and needed almost an entire hour at my friend’s house to get rid of the sickly shakes and cold sweat, before I could even think of eating the beautifully prepared brunch.
I felt ridiculous and pathetic as my friends kept an eye on me with that look that I dread, the one I interpret as confusion and pity. Eventually, I recovered, ate something and had a good time catching up.
On the way home, my driving companion and I decided that I was well enough to run a few errands.
“I knew that something was wrong with you, I just didn’t know what it was. You just weren’t acting like yourself.”
“I’m so, so sorry. Really I am. It’s so embarrassing.”
“Don’t be sorry! We’re your friends and we care about you. If you don’t tell us what’s wrong, we can’t help you.”
That may have been one of the best things that anyone has ever said to me. It may have been one of the best moments of my life.