Spew alert level: orange

By Mir
November 20, 2005

Tonight on Woulda Coulda Shoulda: Let’s talk about puking! Cuz that’s always a crowd-pleaser!

I have a confession to make. I’m an emetaphobic.

Well, I don’t know if I truly qualify as phobic in the clinical sense. On the other hand, “I hate to vomit” really doesn’t cover it, either. I hate to vomit AND I hate to deal with vomit AND I have a highly developed gag reflex. When my children get sick in that way, I cope with it, because I have to. I also have panic attacks and gag repeatedly while dealing with it.

I live for the day when my children will be able to consistently aim when they have to toss their cookies. Also I have a friend with prescribing privileges who can tell you that I have offered all manner of bribes in return for phenergan whenever the pukes hit this household.

Maybe emetophobic is accurate.

Anyway, my phone rang this morning and my ex informed me that he’d been up… sick… all night. He was ostensibly calling to ask if I would pick up the kids later, rather than having to drop them off himself. And I was, I think, appropriately solicitous of his plight.

But really, my mind was racing. GO GET THE KIDS RIGHT NOW! was the first thought. Save them from exposure! This was immediately followed by my second thought: DELAY GETTING THE KIDS FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE! They’ve already been exposed! Keep them away! No… better yet–MOVE. I can be out of here before the ex figures out that I’m not coming for them!

Ever so casually, I asked him if he thought it was food poisoning or a virus. He said he had no fever or chills, so maybe it was something he’d eaten. I relaxed slightly. However, he couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary that he’d had… and they hadn’t eaten out the previous day. I was again suspicious.

My day was spent alternately resting up and planning my immediate relocation if either child looked even slightly pale when I arrived to fetch them. I called a couple of hours before pick-up and quizzed Monkey. Hi there, honey! Taking good care of Daddy? Good! Feeling okay? Alrighty then!

The time came and I headed out to the store. I picked up Sprite and medicine for my ex, then took a deep breath and headed in. I sent the kids to wash their hands while I gathered up their things and tried not to actually touch anything. The ex looked wan; I tried to avoid looking directly at him, because maybe that would keep the germs away better. While the children put their shoes on, I informed them that there was to be ABSOLUTELY NO PUKING at my house or I would be returning them to Daddy.

They thought I was kidding.

Meanwhile my ex was muttering things like, “Don’t remind me. Have you ever thrown up with such force that it came out your nose?” I gagged a little. I tried to go to my happy place in my mind. It’s a beautiful place, shiny and happy and completely free of regurgitation!

So we came home, and had dinner (something bland, in case it reappears later), and showers, and reading, and I tucked the kids into bed. I whispered bids for sweet dreams in their ears and reminded them that if they get sick I won’t love them anymore.

Kidding. I will still love them. Even if I wouldn’t, I would never say that. But I may have reminded them that it’s just as easy to run and throw up in the toilet as it is to puke all over the bed.

I’m hoping for a quiet and uneventful night. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Cuz the thing is, you know, it’s not like I have enough time to order these before I’d have to field this bug, if indeed it is a bug. (Furthermore, I don’t believe that a tape of someone telling me I’m “courageous, unconcerned, brave, dauntless and self reassured” as regards hurling would actually work unless it came with a guarantee that I would never again witness or experience reverse peristalsis.)

We’ll step down to yellow if the night passes without incident.


  1. buffi

    I cannot believe I was even able to read this whole post. *cough*

    I put a little trash can in the bed with any child who is puking. Along with the instructions to run to the toilet if at all possible. They actually do pretty well when they are sick. Of course NOW they won’t. I’ve totally jinxed it.

  2. Ginny

    I’m emetophobic too. Sucks, especially since I have a 3-year-old. If he tells me his stomach is upset, I go on full alert, ready to leap up and dash out of the room at the first cough. I love him to pieces, but he’s on his own until he stops hurling. I can handle the cleanup, thanks to the miracle product I mentioned to you before, but not the actual barfage. Ugh. I need to stop now. I do understand where your head is at on this.

  3. Willena

    Wow!! Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

    I’ve been reading your blog off and on since you were at your old site, and I have to say I really enjoy it.

    I have been an emetophobic for as long as I can remember, but I never knew what it was called. Until I saw someone on an Oprah show one time, I thought I was the only one. I am a 52-year-old mother of seven children, and I have not vomited in more than 45 years. I know that because I haven’t done it since before my father died in 1960. I do not remember ever doing it. It has caused a lot of problems over the years because my babies slept in my bed until they were two to four years old. I spent a few night ramrod straight staring at the ceiling. I even spent a few on the couch in the living room while Daddy slept with the sick one.

    But things are different now. If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion… visit http://www.emofree.com EFT has helped me with a whole host of things, including greatly minimizing my fear of vomiting. I am now able to stay in the same room with a sick child even while it is happening.

    Thanks again, Mir, for sharing this.

  4. Jenrigg

    I, too, am surprised that I managed to read the whole post. I feel a bit wobbly now, but at the same time relieved I am not crazy and not the only person in this world to feel like this! Gotta go, I need to do some deep breathing now….

  5. Amy-GO

    OH, I am soooooo with you on this one. There are very few things I wouldn’t rather do than vomit. And most of those few things are things that would MAKE me vomit. Here’s hoping everyone is feeling well and your home remains puke-free!

  6. dad

    If the siren sounds go to your designated shelter. Take plenty of water, a flashlight and Atavan. Assume the fetal position in a warm place and turn the electric blanket up to maximum security. Consider outside private tutoring for puking control lessons.
    The blitz isn’t over until they move away to college.
    If these prove insufficient, there is a marvelous drug, Versed, I have had to take a couple times. It relaxes you during stressful times and completely blanks out of your mind any recollection of the time while under its influence. Hurling? What hurling?

    p.s. It doesn’t work after the fact.

    Isn’t motherhood fun?

  7. Sheryl

    Hope things are puke-free over there this morning!

  8. laura

    The first time my kid puked completely in the toilet, no mess, he looked up at me and said “That was AWESOME.” I agreed. I don’t think it ever occurred to him that it could be done in such a way that the mess was contained.

  9. Jules

    I used to comment that I’d rather live a lifetime of uncontrollable shits than to throw up once… Then enter Chemo…I’m thinking I could totally handle the whole anorexia thing now ;)

    Hope your house stays puke free!

  10. Bob

    Your dad is a riot.

    I am(was)the designated ralph reclaimer in our household as my better half has a hair trigger gag reflex. the secret is to master breathing through your mouth, not your nose while scooping spew.

    I hope the bacterial explosions have concluded and you are on your way to being lyme-free. (although the news of further blood tests have me worried.)

  11. Theresa

    Ew. And the verdict is?

  12. shannon

    I hope the night was vomit free for you (and the kids really)! When I was a kid we had the trash can by the bed on nights we mentioned not feeling well. That way, we could grab it and run to the bathroom if we, you know, started…

  13. An Ordinary Joe

    Neith you nor Ginny above are clinically emetophobics. But being a hair-trigger gagger myself, I certainly understand and empathasize with the plight of the “fear of puking”

  14. Donna

    As someone who’s nursing the flu at the moment, I’ve decided that I’m emetophobic too. Yech!

  15. Amy

    I used to be that way with my kids. I can now handle them being sick, but if there is any hint that I might be worshipping the porcelain god, I go into a full fledged panic, which really helps me feel a WHOLE LOT BETTER (not).

  16. ben

    I once threw up when I was little, on the floor (SOMEBODY didn’t get me my vomit bowl in time), and while I’m pretty sure my mom still loves me (or at least likes me quite a bit), I’m not allowed to live there anymore.

  17. Colleen

    OMG…you sound just like me!!! LMAO!!!

  18. Cathy

    Everyone out there with this terribly serious affliction, I can help! My husband, during his law enforcement career, has had to, occasionally, witness autopsies. Talk about hurl
    likely situations! Well, what they do is put some “Vicks”, or other strong scented and tolerable aroma therapy just under their noses. Can’t help you with the whole visual torture thing.ha Isn’t this information just enough to make you all hurl?ha

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