I had a discussion not long ago about blogging and my hesitation to write about some topics. I twist and turn over some ideas, debating with myself if I should really spend the time to write about, say, buying a pillow, or hurling a conditioner bottle at my toe in the shower, or my husband picking my nose in a public place. I stop and wonder about these posts before they ever see the light of day. I ask myself, “Am I really going to write about this?” Am I really going to write about these tiny little events in my life? These bits of minutia? These little fleeting thoughts, or these embarrassing moments, that maybe…maybe I should keep to myself?
Then I sit down and start writing and the words start flowing, for better or worse. And eventually, regardless of quality, the investment of my time writing a post overrules my better judgement. And before I can pause to mull over the impression of my character that I’m offering to the gaping maw of the internet, I hit “publish.” That’s how it works.
This type of publishing is actually ideal for me. If I set out to write something serious or scholarly or important, I’d fret and agonize and bog myself down in self doubt. With quick, low investment writing, I can rant about toothbrushes and feel like it was time well spent. And often, to my surprise, those are the types of posts people seem to identify with. The posts I most agonize over, my silly little daily life posts, end up being the most popular.
So with this in mind, let me tell you all about my poopy butt.
I normally have an iron stomach. I rarely have bouts of nausea. While I eat a lot of goddamned oatmeal, and have what I assume to be normal and average bowels, my stomach is top notch. My stomach would win blue ribbons at contests, if there were such a thing as stomach contests. So when I do have a stomach issue, it really is an issue. There is woe and suffering and wailing when I have a stomach issue. And such an issue occurred just days ago.
We were running late to drive into Portland Friday morning, so we skipped breakfast. We knew we were meeting up with some lovely friends for lunch, and I was looking forward to Thai food. I think there is one Thai restaurant in Astoria, and we haven’t tried it yet. So whenever we head into Portland, I try to make sure we hit our favorite spots, or eat something we wouldn’t be able to get in our small town.
So no food for about 18 hours leading up to our lunch. We met at a busy restaurant with one open table remaining outdoors. I ordered a dish called Evil Jungle Noodles. Maybe I should have paused to think about the name of this dish.
The food arrived and it was delicious. I don’t normally skip breakfast so my stomach was empty. We ate and chatted leisurely and caught up with Tammy and Logan. And after about half an hour or so, my stomach began to hurt a little. Not nausea, but pain. We wrapped up, paid our check and said our goodbyes to our friends. And I turned to Dave and said, “I need to get to the hotel.” I’m sure I had no color in my face. Our hotel was just blocks away, but it was before check in time. It was possible our room wasn’t ready yet.
I thought walking and getting some air would help, but my stomach hurt worse and worse. We walked and I kept my head down. And I never thought I would do this, but I was thinking about the sidewalk. I was thinking I might need to puke somewhere. Perhaps on the sidewalk. I really felt I might become one of those types of people to decorate the urban landscape. In broad daylight. On a busy city street. I wasn’t even drunk. I always wondered what kind of person does that.
We got to the hotel and I collapsed into a lobby chair as Dave asked about our room. I just sat and breathed. If the room wasn’t ready, what would I do? I’m sure there are restrooms around. But god, having to be sick in a pubic restroom? In a bathroom stall? That other people have, you know, used? And maybe someone around who could hear me? I don’t even like to tinkle in the bathroom if I know someone else can hear me.
Dave waved the room card keys at me, but it took a second for me to realize what that meant. He collected our bags and led me over to the elevators. I hoped and hoped the elevator would be empty, because I just wanted to moan to Dave in a moment of privacy how much my stomach hurt. But there were other people chatting away in the elevator. I sunk into a corner and envied their wellness. And I thought about puking on their shoes.
We exited the elevator and Dave navigated us to the hotel room. As much as I just wanted to be near a sparkling clean restroom, my system was stymied over what to do with itself. My stomach was in full revolt, but I seemed nowhere near getting ill. I flopped onto the bed and just tried to breathe, breathe, breathe. I was getting waves of sharp pains which caused me to curl up and clutch my belly.
What was remarkable about this, was how fucking fast it came on. I’ve had food poisoning before, but there was always a question of when it started and what I could have eaten to cause it. This was so, so fast. And there was no question where it came from. It was those evil jungle noodles. Why would I have ever ordered something with the word “evil” in it? Why? Why did I do that? It’s not like they weren’t giving me fair warning. We laughed at the name because it seemed the opposite of appetizing. How funny that a restaurant would make such a dish. I learned later, thankfully, that I was the only one of our lunch party to get sick. So I know it was those evil fucking jungle noodles.
I stayed in that hotel room for about 20 hours. Dave brought me medicine and soda. I missed the wedding reception we came into town for. I’ll spare you the details of the illness, other than to say I did eventually get sick, and it did eventually “move through,” so that I was a font of noxious fluids in all sorts of directions. We weren’t planning on spending much time in the hotel, so I didn’t bring a computer or even a book. I drifted in and out of sleep and did a LOT of running to the restroom. We left the housekeepers a good tip.
I felt marginally better the next day, the wild stomach cramps subsided, but I was weak and still needed to have a restroom handy. We had to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge to pick up my car from my mechanic. And they were having a Brunch on the Bridge with hundreds of people and free donuts. I just walked past the festivities, clenched my butt, and did everything I could to hold it together. We brought my mechanic a free box of donuts.
We got the car and drove an hour and a half to get home. I put on my PJs, took more medicine and dragged myself to bed. I could have slept for days.
So this happens every few years. And every experience is memorable. A veggie tamale in 2008. Ice cream sandwiches from Angels Stadium in 2007. I know it seems weird that it would be ice cream sandwiches, but it was the only thing that my sister, her husband and I shared. And we all got sick. In 2001, missed my sister’s college graduation ceremony because of food poisoning. I got super sick in the early 1990s when I was a teenager working at an amusement park. I remember being five years old and having a Fillet O Fish on a Friday during Lent. And I got super sick. I was five. But I remember. Food poisoning etches the memory.
I think, perhaps, this may be the only blog post I’ve ever written about having to clench my butt. Hopefully, I won’t have to write about this again for a few more years. But you can bet your butt I’ll write all about it when it does happen.