Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you.
– Joshua 1:9
Okay, I’ll admit it, I suffer from emetophobia. It is one of my major weaknesses as a mother, and it definitely contributed to my early decisions not to drink to excess or acquire an eating disorder. So what is emetophobia? Let me spit up the definition for you right here: fear of vomiting.
I doubt there are many people out there who like to vomit, but I will do almost anything to avoid it. For example, I do not kiss my kids from October 1st to March 31st. After studying my childrens’ puking habits for many years, I have determined that this is the most opportune window for contracting the stomach flu. The way I see it, if I do not kiss them or touch their grimy little hands during that six month period, I significantly reduce my chances for getting the flu bug from them. So you won’t think I’m a complete nut case, devoid of emotion, I do occasionally kiss them lightly on the cheek during the winter…very reluctantly. I would be much happier doing it if they made Lysol lip gloss.
Whether you concur with my kissing parameters or not, I’m sure most of you will agree that there’s nothing much worse than waking up out of a deep slumber and hearing the dreaded words, “Mom, I think I’m going to be siiiiiiccckk!” It is at that point that I elbow my sleeping husband and shout, “Honey, one of the boys is sick in the bathroom. You need to get up and help him. While you’re holding his feverish little forehead and rinsing his rancid little mouth, I am going to call and make myself a reservation at Holiday Inn Express. I’ll see you in a week.” Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. I do not get a room at the Holiday Inn, but I would if we could afford it, believe me! Instead, I walk around the house for the next ten days, picking up all sheets, towels and clothing with tongs; spraying everything that doesn’t move with Lysol; and sleeping in a distant corner of the house, all by myself. Yes, stomach flu is a failsafe contraceptive device in our home.
Over the recent holidays, we got to practice our stomach flu emergency response procedures at my Mom and Dad’s house. At about 5:30 A.M. on Christmas morning, our bedroom door flew open and Rebecca groaned, “Mom, I just threw up, and it was bad. Merry Christmas.” As usual, I rolled over, nudged Bruce, and said, “Rebecca just barfed. You need to check on her and see if anything needs to be cleaned up.” We both got up so that he could comfort her and check for “projectile overshots,” and I could find a good place to hide. Unfortunately, my Mom forced me to come up from the basement and warn the other seventeen people at their home that Rebecca was hurling last night’s turkey as we spoke. Everybody just smiled and shrugged off the news, saying, “Oh, well, that happens. Let’s open our gifts and then we can play cards and board games, like we do every year.” What were they thinking?! Pass cards around a table?! Touch each other’s game pieces?! There was no way I was going to play or be anywhere near these people, all of whom might be contagious, carrying whatever it was that our dear daughter was spewing upstairs at that very moment. I suppose this is where my misophobia kicks in. Misophobia is fear of germs, and I’m only a misophobe because of my emetophobia. I hope you’re getting all of this because it may explain why I’m snorting Purell and wearing my Michael Jackson rubber gloves and face mask the next time I see you.
Very similar to the gloves and mask I donned on Christmas morning, I might add. While everybody else was whooping it up downstairs, playing games, I bravely sat with Rebecca while she ran back and forth to kneel before the porcelain god for the remainder of the day. I suppose I should be honest here…I did not actually sit with her. As a matter of fact, I was clear across the room from her. . .just close enough to notice if she was slipping into a coma so that I could call Bruce and get help if necessary. I was not going to risk any contact with body waste or exhaled organisms, daughter or not.
That night, everybody slept soundly, but that was the last night anybody slept for a while. Yep, one by one, fifteen of the nineteen people in the house fell victim to a wicked strain of the flu virus thanks to Typhoid Annie, I mean Regurgitation Rebecca. It made its way through the house like the Ebola virus on steroids, and made those cruise ship outbreaks appear to be nothing more than a bad reaction to a Kathy Lee concert.
Just in case you were wondering, I was one of the four lucky ones who did not get the flu, thank you very much. When everybody else was upchucking their pecan pie, I was teaching myself to knit while wearing rubber gloves. There is something to be said for certain mental illnesses.