Monday, March 9, 2015

I'm Gonna Throw Up!!! My Dad's Toilet Side Manner

When I was a kid, I developed food allergies. My parents had a stance that doctors and hospitals were  only useful for my sister and I when we required vaccinations and booster to keep us in school. General ailments such as ear infections, stomach aches, colds and influenza weren't anything to worry a doctor with. Nausea and vomiting were definitely one of those things my parents didn't feel were worthy of a trip to a healthcare professional and believed it was best to let whatever run it's course. My food allergies weren't diagnosed until adulthood.
It would have been nice to know that powered cheese products such as the stuff in cheap macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper were the culprits behind my after midnight runs to the bathroom with the trots, puking or both. I would have loved to know why I got sore throats from Dr. Pepper, an allergy that actually progressed to the point that it can actually cause a reaction of anaphylactic shock now that I'm older.

I hated vomiting, I still do but not really for the same reason I did as a kid. My dad was the official "nurse" of our household, my mom would start gagging when she heard a heave and hang it up because if she's in the same room during splash number 1, she's sick also.
Hamburger Helper and cheap Mac & Cheese were staples in my house. It seems that each episode replayed like a broken record for years. I'd be lying in my super single waterbed and the rumble in my tummy began. I'd lay there thinking about flowers, crayons or whatever I could to take my mind off the inevitable but it never worked. I would jump up, run across to my parent's room and announce I'm gonna throw up. Rather than running 8 feet to their bathroom with linoleum, I'd turn and run to the bathroom considered to be the one my sister and I used. I would turn the corner and run 16 feet down our carpeted hallway and before I would get around another corner to make it to the toilet I would puke in what became the expected vomit spot, in front of my sister's bedroom door.
After the initial splash, my dad would push me to the commode grab me a Sprite from the kitchen then yell "Get your head out of the toilet, no wonder you're sick!" as if I had my head in the toilet before I ran to his room to announce I was gonna throw up. He kept a constant flow of cold washcloths which seemed to help in a weird way. He also handed me the Sprite and would tell me to sip...of course I would drink and he'd yell "Stop Gulping, sip it or you'll do it again." About this time, my sister would usually open her door only to realize I puked directly in front of her bedroom door again, slam the door and go back to bed. This happened almost every single time.

While I was in Florida for my dad's memorial service, my sister and I started talking about the nights I'd get sick and how daddy would always yell for me to get my head out of the toilet. My reasoning behind having my head in the toilet was simple, I didn't want to get splashed by toilet water or vomit. It wasn't as if I had my mouth touching the water or anything, just enough proximity in to have no splash back. I actually included an abridged and more "memorial service" friendly version of this story in my dad's eulogy.

As an adult, I still dread vomiting, mainly because the memory of my dad's piercing voice screaming "Goddamnit get your head out of the toilet, no wonder you're sick!" vividly and clearly plays in my head. To be completely honest, I'd love to be able to enjoy Hamburger Helper or boxed Mac N Cheese because I've always loved the flavor. My body just can't take the ingredients though so I avoid it completely.

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