The world is a barrage of unsettling sensations when I’m ill. The things that go unnoticed suddenly spring forth with a flurry of aromas that set off the already frayed nerves. The stairwell stinks of musty piss, the residual scent of dried cleanser and dust flaring in my offended nostrils.

It’s been three days since food has agreed with me. My guts are a constant gurgling mess, threatening to leap through my chest like that scene in Alien. I’m starving though, and all my thoughts fixate on food, what I want, what can I tolerate and what’s about to set off my gag reflex.

By now, I’ve given up on the rational thought and am barreling toward the near perfection that is my favorite Mexican restaurant. I can’t tell if this is the worst idea or the best idea ever, but I’m committed and will see it through to the end.

The plate arrives and it is perfection. The chicken and chorizo are cooked perfectly and presented in generous portion. I assemble my first taco and the taste is magical. I devour it and pause to see if my gut will accept the humble offering. So far so good.

As I worked my way through the meal, my belly began to ache, but only to complain about the volume it was asked to contain. I became aware of how much it had shrunk during my involuntary fast. I slowed my pace and was able to finish most of my favorite meal.

Three hours later, the unpleasantness set in. Uncomfortable burps betray my indulgence. I pass on dinner and consider my previous victory now about breaking even. I’m still fighting my stomach bug, but live to fight another day.