One of my main goals in life is to make it through an entire winter without getting sick, and I was so, so very close this time around. The mild winter combined with the flu shot and my wife's demands that I wash my hands 9,000 times a day—to the point where the skin has been stripped away from my hands entirely and I now appear to have the hands of a burn victim—were proving decidedly effective. I even got a little cocky. I started licking old coins and touching all the equipment at the gym just to prove to all the assorted viruses out there that I was fucking BULLETPROOF.
Anyway, that failed. No one makes it through a winter completely unscathed, and I'm no exception. Here now is a brief diary of a classic American bout with the stomach flu.
6 p.m.: There's always that moment where you transition between, "Hey, I think I might be sick," to, "Holy shit, I'm sick," and that's never a fun moment. I was giving my kids a bath and I was feeling all fatigued and horrible, which is kind of par for the course if you have children and it's 6 p.m. But I didn't think much of it until I went downstairs, and I went to go do the dishes, and my wife, unbeknownst to me, had left a Tupperware full of two-week-old broccoli soup sitting in the sink to be emptied and washed. I popped that lid open and OH SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS. It smelled like a cadaver in a vegetable garden. That was all it took. The stomach was now compromised.
My wife sent me up to my room for the rest of the night, essentially giving me early leave from fatherhood. This is a great feeling, when you're in bed sick and the other parent is taking care of all the petty bullshit for you. I felt like a KING, a king with a full set of steak knives in his tummy.
10 p.m.: It took four hours to go from feeling bad to finally consummating my marriage to the toilet bowl, which is an agonizing wait. I don't know why I bother trying to put off barfing. There's no use. You may as well get it over with. So I went into the bathroom and I knelt beside the toilet to get it on, but it wasn't coming. I did the classic sniff of the toilet—I even peed in the toilet before getting down so it would smell extra pungent—and nothing. So I jammed my finger down my throat to kickstart the festivities and only a little dribble came out, which was so disappointing. Resorting to the finger feels like cheating, and then to not even succeed is a real letdown. So I gave the toilet one more sniff and OH SHIT YEAH IT WAS ON. I opened wide and let the pizza juice fly. I opened my mouth so wide that I literally split my bottom lip open. So, so hot. The barf hit the water with such ferocity that I got splashback on my face, which was nightmarish. But I don't know how to avoid that. You need to barf into the toilet at point-blank range, in order to avoid side spatter. Anyway, now I was barfing with drops of piss and barf on my face, which is neat.
Midnight: There are few things worse than barfing, hoping that gets rid of the nausea, and then realizing that it did nothing to alleviate your symptoms. I usually feel a great sense of accomplishment after throwing up, not unlike after putting together an Ikea bookcase or something. I really feel like I've put in a good day's labor at the toilet. Sometimes, resting on the cool bathroom floor after I've thrown up is kind of enjoyable. I feel like I just slayed a dragon. I like to throw in some gratuitous moaning, just to amp up the drama.
Anyway, my first round with the toilet didn't get rid of the stomach ache. It still felt as if there were a small midget inside my body grabbing my stomach with both hands and wringing it like a dishrag. I tried to make the pain go away by focusing on other things, but sometimes your brain goes haywire and decides to GROSS YOU THE FUCK OUT while you have an upset stomach, just to mess with you. I started thinking about all the food I ate earlier in the day, which seemed tasty at the time but now seemed repulsive. Earlier in the day, I had wrapped a slice of ham around a dill pickle and eaten it. And now all I could do was think about that meaty pickle, soaked with vinegar, and I wanted to fucking die. So I went and barfed again, making all kinds of horrible sick person sounds like BRAGGGGGGHHHHH and HURRRRRRRRRR and everything else horrible.
This woke up my wife, who came into the bathroom, turned on the brightest light by accident (GAHHH MY EYES!), turned it off, and then took out a can of Lysol and began to spray it around WHILE I was still making sick. Ever smell Lysol while you're sick? It's awful. It's like someone dunked your head in a college dorm toilet on Sunday morning. This made me start barfing more, and I was trying to yell at my wife, "HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?" while also barfing. The Lysol got in my hair. I went to bed and I could smell that shit in my hair, so I had to go rub some lotion in my hair to mask the scent, only now my hair smelled like Lysol AND lotion, and I wanted to puke a million more times. Seriously, FUCK LYSOL. The wife went to sleep in the 6-year-old's room to avoid all the horrible noises I was making. But before she left, she reminded me that I must wash my hands vigorously after barfing and/or touching my peepee.
2 a.m.: Ever change positions when you're sick, only to realize it was a horrible mistake? I turned to my side and my stomach was immediately like NO ES BUENO. Round 3. We have now officially hit the dry-heave phase, which is FUN!
3 a.m.: Now I'm barfing again and "Mr. Know It All" is stuck in my head, which just adds insult to injury. That song was clearly conceived as a demonic companion piece to "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong." My life sucks with you, Kelly Clarkson.
4 a.m.: Round 5.
7 a.m.: I woke up and the stomach pain had subsided. It's just like the stomach flu to strike only in the dead of night. God forbid it show its face sometime around 10 a.m.
So if you haven't gotten sick yet this winter, do take care of yourself. Flush toilets with your shoe. Avoid children at all costs. And don't touch any blind people, because blind people have to touch EVERYTHING. Otherwise, you'll find yourself locked into a night of anguish.