I’m usually good for one awful, please-God-kill-me bout of sickness per year, but the last time I actually threw up was Christmas Eve 1995. I am of the opinion that there is no worse feeling in this life than when…that…happens. I’ve heard people say they’re not feeling well and wished they would just go ahead and do it, as if the after would be worth the during. They lie. Throwing up helps no one.
I remember that last time because of the irony involved. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year—of joyful blessing and peace on earth and Hosanna in the Highest—and yet there I was in the bathroom with my head against the porcelain god saying “This can’t be happening this can’tbe happening thiscan’tbehappen—”
And then it did.
Just so you know, it was horrible. Merry Christmas to me.
That was the day I vowed to never throw up again. I didn’t know exactly how much of a say I had in that, but I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s been tough a few times. I’ve had flu and strep and colds and infections and viruses. I’ve had moments of thiscan’tbehappen—. But I am proud to say that as of today, my streak is unbroken.
I’m proud of that. I’m the Cal Ripken of not puking.
Just in case you’re interested, I’ll tell you how such an impressive feat is accomplished. It certainly isn’t something as mundane as a proper diet (my breakfast this morning? Deer jerky, a bowl of Frankenberry, and coffee). No, I’ve kept my streak through more esoteric measures.
Not puking is a mental thing. A mindset. But it’s also following a few commonsense steps when things go from good to uh-oh.
Like step one: pay attention. Be mindful of that little flutter in your gut. Stop what you’re doing and take stock. It may be a fluke, yes. But it may be something more, also. I’m convinced the vast majority of puking happens when people fail to heed the warning signs and only act when it’s too late.
If it isn’t a fluke and it really may be something more, then it’s on to step two: breathe. Nice, deep, even breaths into and then out the nose. Never through the mouth. I cannot emphasize this point enough. The last thing you want to be doing at that moment is opening your mouth.
Once your breathing is under control, you can move to your thoughts. That’s step three. The mind is an amazing creation, and whatever goes on in there affects the rest of you. Start thinking about peaceful things—mountains and flowers people laughing. Don’t think about oceans, though—too wavy. And for the love of all that is holy and good, don’t think about what might happen. That will ruin everything.
If you’re at step three and still feeling like the wave is building and the end is nigh, it’s time for step four: pray. Pray hard. Steps one through three have failed me through the years, but step four never has. God has always been my Pepto-Bismol.
I say all this because I was sick last week. Not please-God-kill-me sick, but more like you’d-better-slow-down sick. And even though things didn’t progress into a downward spiral of almost-yarking, I decided to follow the above guidelines anyway.
And you know what? It worked.
I’m thinking now of expanding those four rules and including them on the days I feel fine, too. No use to waste them when I’m sick.
I’m going to pay attention more. And when things start going from good to uh-oh, I’m going to stop and breathe.
I’m going to keep the good in my thoughts and not dwell on the bad.
And I’m going to pray. More and always.