The Gypsy has been remiss in posting. I know they say if you want something done, give it to a busy person but this autumn truly got away from me. Harvest season was a nightmare, work was insane, Banner and I were showing a lot and I launched into a serious manuscript re-write after a thorough and thought-provoking critique of my novel. During all of this, the Gypsy sat around, tapping her toe impatiently and making rude remarks about priorities and writer's discipline while I ignored her blog.
But now she’s back with a rollicking tale of high adventure she cleverly wanted to title “How to Barf on the Shoulder of Interstate 80 and Live to Tell About It.” I made her shorten that.
This happened about a month ago. It’s taken me that long to find any shred of humor in the situation.
Like so many things in my life – good or bad - it started at a dog show. I doubt it had anything to do with the dog show but I’ll never know. I could have contracted the Horrible Virus of Doom before I ever went to the dog show. I could have picked it up at the motel that weekend, from a restaurant server or off the handle of a gas pump. I’d like to think I’m a tidy hand-washer but one cannot expect to escape all manner of germs and this one got its teeth in me and wouldn't let go.
It had been years since I threw up.
Seriously. As an adult, that’s one of the odd things you remember. The last time you cried. The last time you threw up. The last time you got out of bed in the morning without something hurting for no good reason.
But there I was, in the bathroom at the show site, heaving my guts out and thinking, this club has an excellent cleaning crew. If I had to barf in a toilet that was not in my own house, at least it was a spotless one.
As is so often the case, I felt marvelous afterward. Simply fantastic. Wondrous. I blamed a bad breakfast biscuit for the digestive derailment and was willing to let bygones be bygones. My poor tormented stomach had found peace and all was good with the world.
Until it wasn’t.
After loading up for the 1 ½ hour drive home, I made it exactly 15 minutes before That Feeling started to creep up on me again. You know That Feeling. It’s accompanied by frantic denial. I am not going to barf. I am NOT going to barf. Oh, sweet mother of God, I’m going to barf.
I was still within the city limits and wheeled into a gas station with bathrooms conveniently located close enough to the door I didn’t have to run the length of the store with my hand clamped over my mouth. Thank God the women’s was not in use although at that point, I would have commandeered the men’s room without hesitation.
Again, a few minutes of intense upheaval brought up the remaining dregs of everything I’d eaten that day, which after the breakfast biscuit, had been nothing. Surely, this would remedy the problem. There was nothing left in my gut to escape.
Oh, the dearly deluded . . .
I hopped in my car, got on Interstate 80 and made it about 30 minutes before That Feeling returned. There was no convenience store in sight. There was no exit in sight. A sign cheerfully promised me the next exit was in two miles. I wasn’t going to make it two miles. I wasn’t going to make it a hundred yards.
There is nothing like the feeling of volcanic doom rising in your stomach to make you capable of things you never imagined. I went from 75 mph to 0, all while managing to signal my intent to exit the traveled portion of the roadway, watch my mirrors, hit my emergency flashers and calculate my trajectory if something went horribly wrong and I ended up in the ditch. I was doing all this single handedly because my other hand was over my mouth because. Oh. Dear. God. I was NOT going to barf in my car.
It was Sunday afternoon - did I mention there was a shit ton of traffic? For a horrible moment I thought I was going to have to crawl across the console and tumble out of the passenger door. A break in traffic allowed me to bolt out the driver's door and around the front of my car, where I clung to the fender and barfed. And barfed. And barfed.
Miraculously, my stomach found yet more food to reject. While contemplating this phenomenon, I was intensely grateful for Iowa’s “pull over” law, which requires motorists to pull into the left lane if any motor vehicle is on the shoulder. Since it was Sunday afternoon and everyone in the United States was traveling on Interstate 80, that wasn’t always possible. Did you know how hard a Chevy Traverse rocks when an 18-wheeler flies by six feet away at interstate speed? I threw up again, just for good measure.
After a calculated race to get back into my car, I headed down the road again, foolishly thinking what’s done was done and it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way home.
Between stops to vomit.
My sincere and heartfelt apologies to anyone at the truck stop at an exit in Poweshiek County who may have looked out the window to see me hugging the trash can by the door. By then I was heaving up stuff I’d eaten three days ago. I genuinely intended to make it into the restroom inside but that was not to be. I’m glad I didn’t try because when I went inside to wash my hands and rinse my mouth, the women’s restroom was so cleverly concealed, if I’d tried to find it earlier, there would have been an unfortunate incident in the aisle by the jumper cables and motor oil.
The Horrible Virus of Doom wasn’t done with me yet. I stopped again at a rest area, whipped into the first available parking spot and repeated a scenario I was becoming all too familiar with. Dear God in Heaven, when was this going to stop?
Apparently not any time soon.
I managed to drive the entire length of the rest area parking lot before having to stop again. This was truly the highlight of what turned into a two-hour trip home. I was pretty sure I was throwing up my toenails by that point.
It took one more demonstration of 75 mph to 0 in six seconds driving skills on I-80 before I got home. By then, death was looking like a viable and practical option.
I parked the car, took Banner inside and the rest of the evening is a blur. I spent most of it in the bathroom.
I’m not sure how many calories you burn while dry-heaving into the toilet and praying for Jesus to take you home but apparently it’s a lot. I lost five pounds in three days and before you tell me it was just water weight, it wasn’t. It stayed off.
The second day of the Horrible Virus of Doom, I advanced to drinking water in tiny sips in spite of a raging thirst. The Farmer told me “You’ll feel better if you eat something.” I appreciated his concern but was not convinced. He was insistent. I ate a cracker. Singular. One cracker. I did not feel one bit better. I was cold. I ached like I had indeed, been hit by a truck.
The third day, I advanced to 7-Up, the universal cure-all for all things gastric. I ate three crackers. Death receded into the background.
On the fourth day, my missing appetite came raging back with gusto. My mid-section felt like I’d done about 5,000 sit-ups. Consultation with the Medical School of Google and a number of on-line friends confirmed I had a raging case of norovirus.
The damn stuff is highly contagious and after my recovery, I spent the next 72 hours in a state of sheer terror, hoping The Farmer didn’t contract this dread disease. By some stroke of luck, he didn’t.
May your holidays be merry and bright and remember, wash your hands, bleach your bathrooms and to all, a good night.