Feeling Sorry for Myself

Feeling Sorry for Myself

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s is about the things I have discovered from being sick with the stomach flu.

I spent last weekend hoping to get run over by a truck.

It’s not that I actually wanted to be flattened like a pancake; it’s just that for a time, that option seemed preferable to what I was feeling. I was on a speaking trip in Minneapolis when a wicked stomach bug hit me. It is not fun to be sick all by oneself in a hotel room, knowing that the next night you’re supposed to get in front of a crowd of 300 and act energetic. I told the sound guy that if I suddenly started running off of the stage it was likely a good idea to mute that microphone headset.

As I spent the weekend feeling sorry for myself, and much of this week subsisting on applesauce and ginger ale, I discovered some things about being sick.

First, stomach bugs are particularly loathsome. On one sleepless night, which I spent primarily in the bathroom praying that God would have mercy on me and let me regurgitate, it occurred to me how many different words we have for that particular physical feat. If you fall out of a tree and break your arm, what do you tell people? “I broke my arm.” If you’re feeling particularly eloquent, you try, “I fractured my tibia” instead. When it comes to stomach issues, though, our word choices are plentiful and full of emotion. There’s something uniquely awful about being nauseous.

It’s not the throwing up that’s the problem, though. Through two of my pregnancies I had horrible nausea. For one I could vomit every morning like clockwork. Through the other I only ever threw up once. I felt far better during the pregnancy that I could throw up than during the one that I couldn’t. It’s the wanting to but not being able to that’s horrible.

Second, I learned that pharmaceutical companies hate us. While I was in misery in that hotel room, my husband, who is a doctor, recommended I drink some rehydration fluid. Given that this particular product is intended for people who are already nauseous, you would think that the company could come up with a recipe that does not taste like a cheap Kool-aid knockoff mixed with a tablespoon or salt and a pinch of baking soda. If you weren’t feeling sick already, that stuff would be sure to do the trick.

Third, grocery stores have no sympathy for the stomach challenged. After giving up on rehydration fluid, I chose instead the route of soda crackers, applesauce, and ginger ale. Purchasing said products when you are still praying for that wayward truck, though, is quite a challenge, because it involves walking all around a huge store. I wish stores would place all those items in a nice basket and leave it by the Express Checkout for us sickies. It would be an immense public service.

Fourth, I learned that I am dispensable. When the children were small I used to dread getting sick because how would I look after them? If I was out of commission, everything fell apart. Now I’m home from my trip, I’m still sick, yet life is going on around me. One daughter is at work, and the other is doing schoolwork. The meals are still being made. The laundry is still being done. Turns out I’m not so indispensible after all.

But then, maybe that’s what being a mom is all about. You put in the work when they’re young, so that when they grow up, they’ll be there to get that bucket for you, pour you that Ginger Ale, and put that nice, cold cloth on your forehead. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my youngest daughter to do exactly that.

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  1. Take lots of probiotics to restore the balance in your gut. I make my own kefir but good, organic yogurt is good also. Lots of good chicken and vegetable soups with homemade chicken broth helps also.
    Lori recently posted…Teach Your Daughters To Be HomemakersMy Profile

  2. I do not understand how you managed to even get to a grocery store with that kind of illness. We had a stomach bug here a few weeks ago that put us all down flat, and even a walk/run to the bathroom took every ounce of control I could muster.

    The grocery store? I bow humbly in your presence … :)
    Amy recently posted…How to Share Feelings in Your MarriageMy Profile

  3. I guess I’m the only one in the universe who would 10 times rather NOT throw up. Not to get too graphic here, but it decides to make it’s way through all of my sinuses, so rather than out one place, my nose gets to play along too, so that once I’ve gotten everything up (including some organs probably), I’m still hanging over the toilet gagging and unable to breathe from anywhere. Actually getting it up is so much more horrific than just sitting around feeling sick to my stomach. You pray to get it up, I pray it just goes away. If you think just regular sinus drainage is bad, just imagine…well…nevermind. Don’t imagine that. It’s awful.

    I hope you feel better, and like others have said, way to go on even making it to the grocery store!

  4. Oh gosh, I needed this today. I’m home sick myself right now! What I thought was just massive heartburn was…well…not. Now I’m just trying to rehydrate myself because most of the misery was, ahem, of the lower end.

    Thank you so much for making me laugh hysterically! And the comments are hilarious too! Katie, I feel the same way– I’d rather feel nauseated than actually throw up. Although throwing up isn’t nearly as intense for me as it is for you, thank GOD, so I do feel better once it’s over with. However, I’ve struggled since I was really little with an actual phobia of vomiting, so it’s the misery of anticipating it that’s the worst!

    Now I’m off to make myself some peppermint tea, and thank the good Lord that I’m not as sick as the rest of you. 😀
    Jaimie recently posted…Seeing God in all thingsMy Profile

  5. The last time we tried that rehydration drink, it caused immediate vomiting. It came in handy when you could feel it coming, but couldn’t get the deed done- one sip and you were in action. Ha. I’m sorry you’re still feeling under the weather. I hope you are well soon.

  6. Oh dear! Praying you feel better soon! And what lovely daughters you have 😀

    I’m with you… I’ll take pain over nausea any day of the week. Ugh.

    Julie recently posted…Grasshopper DaysMy Profile

  7. You have my sympathy. Or rather empathy. I went through that a few weeks ago, and it took me at least a week to feel like myself again. I also remember begging God to let me throw up already (my gag reflex is never cooperative, wasn’t in pregnancy).

    And like you, I realized that the household still ran without me. My kids needed care at times, but my husband handled everything beautifully and I was able to rest.

    But you also have my immense admiration and amazement. I can’t imagine having to speak in front of audience the day after that horrible night in the bathroom. I hope you never experience that again. Blessings for all you do, Sheila! And stay healthy.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Rain Check SexMy Profile

  8. So sorry you have been sick. The stomach flu is, without a doubt, the worst virus ever!!! I have always had a phobia of the stomach bug since I was a little child… sadly, it is worse now as an adult. Even though you were feeling sorry for yourself for being “dispensable” — that was very encouraging to me. As a mommy to four little ones (ages 4,2,1, and 10 weeks) I have lots of anxiety when it comes to me getting sick for fear the whole house will shut down. My husband is also a doctor and I know if I get sick he can’t take off of work to help me. Thankfully, I haven’t had to experience that yet, but I know it is coming one of these days and I will think about this post and realize it is a short season and that one day, when I get sick, life will go on for everyone. So, thanks. :)

  9. Stephanie says:

    Poor you! Stomach stuff is the worst. I also had it all bad during pregnancy. What a miserable thing! I hope you get to feeling 100% soon!

  10. I have never heard about that Coconut water is the best when it comes to re-hydration. Very interesting.

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