I realized this past weekend that no one really knows what it means when I briefly, nonchalantly mention it to people in passing that: “I get sick”. That is mainly because it is something I’ve spent most of my life being ridiculously embarrassed by.
“Not feeling good” really is not even close to the explanation of what happens to me when my body decides it’s time to rebel. There are no “diagnoses” of what is wrong either, so I tend to skip over the conversation due to the lack of true definition. That and the fact that everyone and their mom instantly turn into an MD when I talk about it and start to try to place a diagnosis on me before even knowing the whole story.
Yes, I’ve done all of the testing. As a child and again as an adult. Still no answers. Everyone who has been involved has said the same thing… “You’re an anomaly” because nothing about the way my body works or processes truly makes sense. But thankfully after years of trial and error, documentation, and testing, it has improved drastically.
For over 10 years, I puked every morning…Or at least, dry heaved until I was able to get stable enough to put a little food in my belly and “mind over matter” myself until the nausea would cease. Needless to say, mornings were never pleasant for me…ever.
And no I’m not just being dramatic, it was every morning. Ask my mom, my best friends, or past partners and they will tell you. This shit is real, and it’s really bad. Also, it’s seemed to get worse as I’ve gotten older for some reason. The doctors always told me I would just have to deal; there is no medicine to help; it’s all diet related. But even then, it’s a present part of my life that I have to deal with and be proactive about every single day.
I’d give anything to just be “normal.” To be able to take a flight somewhere without needing to arrive a day early to allow for recovery before attending an event or engaging in any activities.
Hell, to be able to take a flight in general without strategically having to plan meals, water intake, and sleep for days before and after so I don’t spend the entire flight time puking in the lavatory (which is the worst). To leave the house without reinforcements in my bag to help keep me stable, ya know just in case I don’t have access to real food for some reason. To saying no to invites to camp, or to the lake, or on a road trip with new people for fear that my body will lose its shit and decide to rebel in the middle of it all and then I will turn into a helpless, fragile creature that needs Pedialyte, somewhere to puke, and some sleep…or an IV if it gets really bad.
Well, that happened to me this weekend and I couldn’t hide it from anyone.
I was so prepared, too. I had the non-processed snacks. I had the high-fat, high-protein options, the liters of electrolyte water. I drank Pedialyte every night and morning. I stayed away from any alcohol. I got plenty of sleep. But it still wasn’t enough. On day three, my body was like “NOPE. You’re done.” I was at a table with people whom I absolutely adore and who I would say know me pretty damn well, but they were about to get to know me a little bit better because when my sugar is that unstable, there is no going back.
I sat at the table staring into the distance. My friend, Sam, who knows a little more about my weird issues noticed and kept asking if I was okay. I said yes, but the truth is, I wasn’t okay at all. I excused myself to the bathroom where I couldn’t get into the stall quick enough to puke up everything I had eaten in the mad dash to try and turn it all around at the last minute…an effort I failed at miserably.
It was brought to my attention in a really, really big way this weekend that I needed to explain more in detail because no one really knows about this side of me. Not truly at least.
When we got back to the hotel, someone in the lobby had ordered something with a seriously strong smell and I couldn’t get to my room fast enough. Ya know, so the vomiting could continue. So much fun. But I’m seriously the best puker ever. I never do it in inappropriate places and if I didn’t tell you it happened, you’d never know.
Well, sometimes it just ends at that. I can drink a little water afterward and go to sleep. Then I’ll sleep all night and wake up feeling weak, but functioning the next day and I can work with that to make it all okay.
This time after an hour of sleep, my body woke me up and in came the shakes, the dry heaving, and the waves of severe hot flashes mixed with cold sweats. This is not new, but it’s also nothing short of miserable. At that point, there was really nothing to do but let it run its course.
I also COULD have gone the hospital and they would have given me fluids, but they would have wanted to keep me for days because unless they have access to my records, they wouldn’t understand what was going on with me. I’ve been down this road so many times I know it very well.
Somewhere in the middle of my midnight situation the other night I heard the voice of my friend saying, “Just ask for help, Jamie. You are not weak”… So, I reached out and asked for help. I texted a friend who was staying with me and asked her to come back to the room and help me.
You see, when your sugar levels are SO out of whack it’s almost like you’re delusional. My emotions run high; nothing makes sense. I get angry and embarrassed and sad and scared. Angry with myself as if it’s all my fault or something.
But since I called Sam and asked her for help, the group of people she was hanging out with downstairs, who are all my people, too, then knew how bad it was.
Sitting on the bathroom floor was killing my achy body at this point.
I was so embarrassed. But there I was. Nowhere to hide. This is part of my reality and here I was sharing it with someone who’s fairly new in my world…let alone, also one of my clients. Yikes, the emotions were high but her presence helped. She stepped into mommy-mode, called the airlines to change my flight and extended the hotel another night so I could spend the day nursing myself back to health the next day instead of forcing myself to get on a plane…which would not have been a pretty picture.
I was finally able to force feed myself a little food and by a little I mean literally ¼ of a small blueberry grain bar and about four sips of Pedialyte and settle my stomach and sugar enough to finally fall asleep. I woke up at 6am, repeated that routine and went back to sleep. The day was spent in bed with fluids and fruit until I was finally able to eat a meal at 4pm. And then I promptly passed out after eating. When it gets that bad I need one full day to recover…that is if I don’t want the cycle to repeat itself later on in that same week.
A few things happened as the night continued that have pushed me to share this with you…
1- This doesn’t make me weak.
That strong girl you see who walks through a room shining so bright and so happy? I really am that girl at my core. This is just a part of my life that I have to deal with. It’s just something I haven’t let you see, not on purpose either. It’s a part of what makes me so damn strong in the first place. Because I have no choice.
2- People don’t know what they don’t know. And they certainly don’t know what you don’t share with them.
I thought people knew about this. I thought that I had shared enough until I was standing there looking it in the face, in a hotel filled with people who love me but truly didn’t know. That’s when I was smacked with the truth of how much I had downplayed the entire thing for…well, my entire life.
3- Feeling fragile doesn’t mean you ARE fragile.
That is a choice and it’s not one I’ve ever allowed to define me. The truth is, when my body is in the state it was in Sunday night, it IS fragile but that’s nothing I have control over. So letting it ruin my mindset or bring in negative self-talk makes no sense at all.
4- People will love you if you let them.
But this weekend I never felt so loved and taken care of. From the texts checking in, to knowing that there were people literally on standby ready at a moment’s notice to swoop me up and take me to the ER if I said that’s what I needed.
It’s all been pretty damn overwhelming but you know I believe the universe puts things in front of us when we need them most and this was one of those instances. It was a divine sign to quit worrying about the best way to talk about this, or the best way to explain it to you so you’ll understand, or how to write it without sounding like a weak, fragile girl, or how to say it in a scientific way so people won’t question me.
The fact is, none of that is relevant anyway.
No, I don’t puke every morning anymore. It’s actually a rare occasion these days but that is because I have found a specific way of living, eating, hydrating, working out, and resting that keeps my body happy and functioning. There are still hiccups every now and then. And there are still situations that I have not mastered how to keep from disrupting me in such a terrible way (such as traveling) but I promise you I WILL figure it out. I will eventually find a solution for these things. Because I’m committed to figuring it out. I’ve gotten this far, so I know I can keep going.
Just looking at this photo makes me extremely uncomfortable. It’s vulnerable in every sense of the word. It was a punch in the gut to look at this morning, but it’s also a motivator proving how important it was that I share this with you.