Christmas 2006--warning, not for the squeamish  

Posted by Heidi in

(In my defense, lest this post come across as complaining, I would like to make clear that my motto is : Laugh and live, cry and die) My 18-year-old son has the gag reflex of an infant. In fact, its at about the same level as my youngest, when he was born three weeks early and nearly gagged to death on account of his immature, er, gag reflex. In fact, during his elementary school years, Michael gagged on his own saliva nearly every morning in light of the over-night accumulated build-up. Gagging, sad to say, often results in barfing. To whit, Michael has barfed in restaurants, in bed, on the dentist, even whilst seated on the throne. It has happened as recently as last month. Did you know that there are at least 20 euphemisms for tossing your tacos? We think about that kind of thing a lot at our house. (And, might I add, how lucky am I, because I will need to use most of them during this post). That is why, when he started feeling gaggy the Christmas morn he was 16, we didn’t think too much about it. Well, we thought about it, enough to utter the usual gentle proddings of “just get to the sink, honey,” but not enough to wonder why he continued to sit on the floor surrounded by his newly opened Christmas gifts (most of them Yu-gi-oh cards—I guess you’re never too old) with his eyes as wide as saucers. After all, he was as used to his habit of blowing chunks as were we. In hindsight, I can see that he clearly felt the enormity of the situation, a subject upon which the rest of us were still woefully uninformed. Something about that enormity made him temporarily deaf, dumb and blind.

He did get up, eventually, but not until after he had puked on his Christmas presents, each and every one, with a thoroughness that defies description. At least, a tolerable one. Our gentle proddings became more insistent. “Michael! Run to the sink!!” Instead, he stood and picked up a hand towel from the kitchen counter, pressing it to his mouth so that when the spewing commenced, it went off in every direction like a pinwheel. This all happened so fast, it was hard to make a decision. Do we run and forcibly shove his face into the sink or do we duck and cover, hoping it would soon be over? My daughter simply burst into violent tears and ran to her room. Another Christmas ruined. I can’t wait to pay the therapy bill for that one.

When Michael finally stopped heaving, we made it within a few steps of him where he stood in the center of our 5 X 3 foot kitchen (its cute, its cottagey, its sweet, say what you will but it’s dang small) before the fire-hosing began. This was no ordinary upheaval. My 250 pound son opened his mouth as wide as it would go, in my estimation, a good 8 inches in diameter (his mouth is about as big as my kitchen is small) and, hmmm . . . how to say this? Let’s just say the stuff coming out of him was like an 8 inch wide jet-spray that hosed down every counter, appliance, cabinet door and square inch of my kitchen floor whilst he rotated slowly in place like a lawn sprinkler. It was like the TV show Supernatural when the demon flies out of the mouth of the innocent host, or that movie with the head that rotates while green vomit spews out of it (but with a body attached). Plus, it wasn’t green, mostly brown, the color of the Swedish meatballs we had for Christmas Eve dinner the night before.

When it was all over, I took stock of the situation. The presents could be saved since those collectible cards are coated with some kind of protective film, apparently designed for moments like this (though it isn’t enough to keep out pool water once submerged, something I learned during one of those “Do what I say, or else” episodes) and surely I would wash up okay, as well. However, the kitchen floor looked like some kind of ecological disaster. You know, the kind we are always being warned about if we don’t do our best to keep our lakes and oceans clean. It was stinky, warm, and I could have sworn it bubbled. We didn’t make it to church that morning. It started rather early in the A.M. and though we had planned to go, we hadn’t counted on spending an hour cleaning the kitchen first.

In Michael’s defense, it wasn’t his gag reflex to blame for this particular incident. He actually had the stomach flu, something that became evident when he continued to throw up every half hour until what was coming out of him was the color of egg yolks. I kid you not, we could have fried it up for breakfast except that nobody really felt like eating at that point.

Since I would not wish this bug on my worst enemy we decided not to have dinner with family that day. We spent a quiet Christmas at home, watching our other children play with their gifts between those half hour bouts of up-chucking. We did get a doctor’s appointment for him in a nearby city, the closest our insurance could provide on Christmas Day. We brought a large bowl with us which was brutally abused every half hour like clockwork. The doctor prescribed an enema (since anything by mouth would not stay down) with hopes it would decrease the nausea and make him sleep.

Driving home from the doctor’s office, I tried not to think about the enema. Applying one was beyond my son’s motor skill capacities and beyond my husband’s squeamish threshold. I sighed, knowing it would have to be me who shoved a cold pellet up the rear of my childlike man-sized son since I was willing to bet a pony that neither my 11 or 4 year old were up to the job. I chose to focus, instead, on the beauty of the downtown area through which I headed for home where holiday lights were on and glittering in store windows and shops, lighting up the foggy, silent afternoon. It was very festive, a priceless Christmas memory, so, as usual, thank you, Michael. You’re the man!

P.S. Sorry no pic--it defies illustration.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 3, 2008 at Saturday, May 03, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

6 wise, witty and wonderful comments

NO NEED FOR PICTURES. MY MIND DID A GREAT JOB! I have been fortunate to not have children with gag reflexes - only my husband! What a memory!!

May 3, 2008 at 4:51 PM

Hey, Hillary, thanks for reading my blog! Heidi

May 3, 2008 at 6:38 PM

Heidi, I suspect that the faulty gag reflex is genetic, I too suffer from this disgusting malady. It does seem to lessen as one ages. Who knows maybe by the time I am 100 I will be able to see a young child with mucus flowing into his mouth without having to dry heave and lay down. Oh dear, if you will excuse me now.. I must lay down

May 4, 2008 at 3:42 PM

That's good to know, Roxanne. Alas, if only the gag reflex wasn't one of many things that make him such a high maintenance fella. I guess it is a good thing that I didn't include a picture, huh? :)

May 4, 2008 at 5:32 PM

Hi Heidi!
I came across your blog via reading about NieNie. I live in Phoenix. In fact I work at Phoenix Children's Hospital which is very close to their hospital.

My daughter is an avid puker as well, but it's her "emotional gag reflex" that's faulty. She pukes when she cries. Would you please email me a few of your euphemisms for "puking?" We have never gotten that creative around here :)

Thank you very much!

September 6, 2008 at 5:26 AM

My daughter (now six) threw up every day of her life from age 6 months to 18 months. She also has a very active gag reflex. Now she is six, and one day after she tripped on the sidewalk and smacked her head on the pavement, I gave her some Tylenol for the pain. She did not like it and threw it up. Two feet from a toilet. It appeared she was going to throw up again, and was making no effort to approximate herself to the porcelain bowl that we love so well. I grabbed her and tried to carry her to the toilet, entirely forgetting the vomit that was already on the floor. I slipped in it and we both came tumbling down, into the orange tuna-laden slime, and I mashed my foot into the base of the toilet. Great times, I tell ya.

September 18, 2008 at 8:19 AM

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