I’m sick of being sick….

by Pseud O'Nym

If you are reading this and are eating, I would advise you to stop now and return when you’ve finished eating.

When I awoke in hospital one of the many things that confronted me, in addition to my body not working as it used to, was that I had suddenly developed a rather nasty gag reflex. I would vomit with little or no warning, and this coupled with my lack of fine motor skills, made for a very messy state of affairs. Over time I got used to recognizing the early warning signal that was an odd taste in the mouth that gave me ten to twenty seconds of an impending Technicolor yawn. Quite why or how this gag reflex happened or what triggered it, and more importantly, what I could not do to prevent it avoid wasn’t clear. Over time I discovered that brushing my teeth acted in someway as a trigger for vomiting. (Not that vomiting happened every time I brushed my teeth. That would be too simple, so to make things interesting my body added an element of jeopardy to proceedings, so it was completely random as to whether I pebble-dashed the porcelain.) Things got progressively worse and it led to a state of affairs where I was understandably reluctant to brush my teeth.

My vomit could be either the rather watery like bile liquid which normally emanated forth from my stomach to herald a new day, or if I had just eaten there would be the sink-plug plugging sludge of undigested food that I would examine for signs of blood. I must point out that I have a small toilet in my room – perfunctory, not palatial – and I sit on the toilet whilst my head rests conveniently for my mouth to give generously to the sink. For despite the smell of vomit being rather unpleasant, this is of minor significance to my overweening fascination with any of my bodily secretions. (A tissue after I’ve blown my nose in can be a  thing of curious wonderment.) Or sometimes for variety when there’s no food or drink in my stomach, it can to be a succession of dry retches that seem to be both never ending and not the sound you’d imagine no human could produce. The one saving grace out of all of this vomiting was that I’ll get the early warning, then be sick and then usually immediately feel much better. I know, weird, right? If you think I’m treating vomiting with a casual disdain, you’d be right.

In my late teens and until a kidney infection was identified, I was prone to bouts of vomiting, which also had an element of jeopardy. There would be some breaks between each outbreak of vomiting, some hours, days or weeks apart – although thankfully not as distant as the gaps between litter bins, drains, and other handy receptacles I’d make use of. I could drink a cup of tea at my house, set of for school feeling fine and then suddenly just know I was going to be sick and the need to find somewhere to evacuate safely was paramount importance. Of course one can be sick, one can’t control that but what you can control is where you are sick. I would argue that one of the signs of a blatant disregard for people and surroundings would just be to selfishly vomit wherever one happened to be. One evening a while ago I had been sick earlier in the evening. Now, fast-forward to later that evening where myself and a my girlfriend are in bed. I sit up suddenly and make frantic gestures. She rushes to get a bin and upon finding one, she places it under my mouth whereupon I deposit some vomit into it. “You held your vomit in your mouth?”, she exclaimed. To which I replied, “Of course.” because it would be bad form to do otherwise and besides which, it was a way of demonstrating my remarkable self-control.

“You’re not normal!”, was all the thanks I got, although she did try to mollify it somewhat by protesting that she wouldn’t have minded changing the sheets and the bedding, but I pointed out that emptying the contents of my stomach into the bin was a lot easier to do.

However this state of affairs was unsustainable. And so I put my name down on a waiting list to see a specialist dental unit at my local hospital, this is when I discovered that the wheels of bureaucracy had brakes on. It was one of my fillings falling out, coupled with the gag reflex which ruled out as wholly impractical anything other course of dental treatment. I mean, most dental surgeries are all about clinical efficiency and I whilst I might be clinical, efficient I’m not. Finally after nine months I got an appointment. The dentist was as competent as the secretarial team were not. He listened to my problem and conducted a precursory examination of my mouth before sending me down for an x-ray. I must tell you I’ve never seen an x-ray machine like it. It was something out of Star Trek. In essence it was a revolving scanner that went around my head and there was a grip to hold the head firmly in place. Upon returning upstairs, five minutes late, I was confronted by my x-ray, which because it was flat made my teeth resemble Wallace’s’ (out of Wallace and Gromit).

I was pleasantly surprised that despite me not having seen a dentist since my accident there was remarkably little work to be done because, as I’m fond of saying, there is a benefit from coming from peasant Irish stock. He outlined the various anaesthetic methods that were available for the treatment. In essence the gas and air mixture was a lot safer, being only a local anaesthetic, but would require a couple of treatments. Whereas general anesthetic carried with it a greater level of risk, but all the work needed could be done in one go. When I asked him about the risk he said that one in every hundred thousand people who had a general anesthetic died as a result. That would be just my luck I thought, to have a general anesthetic and wake up afterwards. Bingo! Fortunately sense prevailed and I opted for the gas and air, which means cleaner, healthier teeth but also means life.

Every silver lining has a cloud!

Next time…you say baseball, I say rounders…..