I began Thursday’s post with some poetic license, but the feeling of breathing benzine wasn’t that far away from what I suspect really and truly was happening to my body. I wasn’t feeling that hot when I got up for work, but feeling that it was probably more a reflection on the potentially negative interaction I was about to have at work, I chalked it up to psycho-somatic anxiety related discomfort. My commute to work is only about 15 minutes, and by the time I rolled into the parking lot, Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” had come on the radio and I sat a moment in the car listening to an eerily calming bit of nostalgia before heading in for the day.
As the day wore on, I began to feel less and less myself. The negative interaction was clearly not going to happen, which meant I was being ignored. Whatever, I thought, my insides churning for nothing. At lunch time, I got back into my car and headed over to Boston Market. Grabbing a carver sandwich and side of mashed potatoes, which tasted just fine, I ate in the car then headed back to my desk. Within an hour, the gurgling in my stomach could no longer be held back. Although I was staunchly against the idea of trying to go number 2 in the public bathrooms which I had previously posted about, I now had no choice. I discreetly hid my stash of wet wipes under my belt and went for it.
Sure enough, I was about halfway through what I envisioned to be the most discreet pooping that ever took place in a corporate building when some douche nozzle decided to keep trying to open the door. One grasp of the handle, and one would know it was locked, the bathroom occupied. The second, third and fourth attempt is really what separates the well-meaning normal bathroom seeker from the obnoxious bullies who seek out and relish in ruining an awkward saurus’ attempt to move her bowels unnoticed. Normally, an indignant “OCCUPIED!” shouted through the door is enough to send these idiots away, but as I was deep in concentration, I would not allow anything to distract me.
No sooner did I get back to my desk than the rumbling in my guts began again, this time with a full on nausea behind it. I began to feel light headed. I took a few swigs of cold water and some deep breaths. No way, man. I am not going to barf at my desk. Not today. I managed to tough it out until 3:00, which was enough time to email my boss and let my colleagues know I was taking an hour to go home. While one was less than sympathetic, which is ironic since she herself was out sick two days that week, I couldn’t be bothered with the court of public opinion.
Once I got to my car, I began to wonder what I could have done that triggered such a vile response in my body. The car did smell a bit like chemicals when I got in, but because I was so touchy with smells because of the nausea, I couldn’t tell if it was a chicken or the egg situation. Going back over the food I had eaten over the last 24 hours, there was sushi from a trusted restaurant, coffee from home and the Boston Market. I drove home with all the windows rolled down, in a case it was a fuel leak somewhere and also as a preemptive measure against the impending nausea. I’ve never wanted to puke less in my life.
Arriving home, I can barely walk, the white knuckle grip I used to get myself home has effectively zapped all my energy. I slowly shuffle into the house, carrying my heels in one hand, giving a wistful glance at my husband, who is just arriving back from another work overnight. All I really want is to run to him and give him a big hug and kiss to welcome him back. But I shuffle upstairs and into bed, where he comes to check on me a few minutes later.
I sleep for nearly four hours straight, without my mouth guard and in my work clothes. Finally I rouse to the sound of him emptying the dishwasher downstairs and force myself to get up. He’s cooking steak’umms downstairs for himself, and the smell is overwhelming. I try to buck up, but am also inundated by the aroma of the burning lavender candle and the black pepper he’s just added to the cooking beef. The windows in the house are open, and the screaming children playing outside feels more like the sound of mongol hoards arriving to pillage and plunder. I sit up for a few hours, sipping cold water and gatorade, before going back to bed.
I sleep amazingly through the night, awaking periodically to go to the bathroom. The alarm goes off at 5:00, since I have an early morning meeting, and I feel okay enough. I reach over to turn off the alarm, feeling that maybe I can do this and I’m going to survive. Then I stand up. Nope, my mind resonates throughout my aching body. I am halfway through the shower when I begin to put my day together should I continue down this path, two early meetings at one end of campus, then lunch with friends at the other end, then returning to the office until 4:00. It is not likely that I’ll be able to get through most of that before barfing or otherwise messing myself. Around the time I’m opening my mildly scented shampoo and nearly retching, I realize that I can only be in denial about my current situation for so long.
I decide quickly that I must abort mission. Although, I wish I had come to this conclusion before I had gotten into the shower, knowing I’ll be going back to bed with wet hair. It’s too late for that kind of talk now. We must take action before it gets too late.
For the record, I hate calling in sick. I feel like so many people do it when the weather is nice or when they don’t really feel like coming in, that the times when one really is sick, the reactions are always the same. I give more information than is needed to get people to feel sympathetic, which in turn makes it seem like you are indeed faking it. The true mark of a real sick day, however, is that you’re too sick to give a fuck what anyone thinks. And, it is in that spirit, I accept my fate, emailing the people who are relying on me to accomplish the assigned meetings and tasks that day, and disappoint them.
My rational brain tells me that it’s okay, people get sick all the time, and that there’s nothing that can’t possibly wait until next week. Sure, that’s all well and good, but my brain also knows how the people I work with will see my time off, and will no doubt be gossiping about it all day. Then, the very rational part of my brain, who is frankly tired of fighting with me and battling the illness in my body, says “well, fuck them.” And, you know what? My brain is totally right. I go back to bed, and get some rest, the battle will continue next week, as the war of work will never end and sometimes you have to camp out in the infirmary until you’re better.
(For the record, I do not know what made me sick, food poisoning, car poisoning, psycho-somatic nonsense or tiny evil nano-robots. Frankly, I don’t really care. I just want it to go away.)