Throwing up on my own

Kristine Gill

I did a lot of things over winter break. I slept, I worked at Subway while resisting the urge to put my head in the toaster oven and end my sandwich-making misery, I celebrated Christmas and visited with relatives and my puppy. I also threw up.

Yes, upchucked, retched, blew chunks, barfed. I tossed my cookies for the first time in a long time, and it’s significant because, until then, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d done it.

For those of you who don’t appreciate graphic description of such bodily functions, don’t worry. I’m going to spare you the gruesome details and just say we had sausage and perogies for dinner that night and I wish I had chewed more.

After dinner one night my mother started complaining she was feeling sick. I listened as she described her symptoms and discomfort but quickly dismissed her complaint. Days earlier, a sudden flu-like illness had bound my stepfather to the couch for an entire day.

I stayed up to watch some TV and realized I wasn’t feeling well either. I called down to Mom, who had again emerged from the bathroom looking sick.

“I don’t feel good either!” I told her. Now I was worried.

I went downstairs to feed the guinea pig and take my mind off the twisting and turning in my stomach, but was immediately grateful we had chosen to install a bathroom in the basement the year before. I ran in, braced myself against the sink and looked into the mirror before deciding that kneeling in front of the toilet might be a better bet.

I felt my mouth water and remembered how my roommate had once described it as a sign of an imminent vomit. She was right. I threw up and it was the most conscious I have ever been during such an incident. And by conscious I don’t mean to imply other drunken incidents. I don’t drink. When I say conscious I mean I remember every detail and thinking all the while how much it sucked. It was horrible and disgusting and eye-opening.

I started feeling better as I washed my face and cleaned up the bathroom. I marched upstairs and offered my stepfather a vivid description of what I’d just done to the plumbing. He offered condolences, but I realized I wasn’t looking for pity. I laughed as I re-lived the fatal moments before my cookies were tossed and woke my mother to make the same announcement. She too offered sympathy. But on my way to my room I realized I didn’t need to be comforted. I had held my own hair, cleaned up my own mess and brushed my own teeth. I didn’t need assistance or pity. I could survive on my own and this was proof.

My sister came home around 3 a.m. that morning. I was, of course, awake, having just visited the bathroom yet again. She brought her friend and our mutual co-worker, Amanda, back with her. I greeted them, eager to share the gruesome details of my illness, but first, I noticed something on Katie’s face.

“Oh my God Katie! Your nose is bleeding!” I screamed and pointed stupidly.

“No,” Katie said as she examined the red streak in the mirror, “I threw up in the car and tried to stop it with my hand.”

Ugh. Suddenly, having had to brush my teeth four times that night didn’t seem like such a pain.

That night was the precursor to three days of house-bound hell, and our full appreciation of the four full baths in our home. We watched a lot of TV, mastered the art of sleeping in bright daylight and lost all concept of time and hygiene. I lost five pounds, and Amanda and I both got out of working on Christmas Eve. Most importantly, I had come to appreciate my full independence. It might have been cooler to say I fended off a robber or changed my own tire, but I’ll settle with keeping my own hair away from my puke as a good indication of newfound maturity and responsibility.

Kristine Gill is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]