Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's not you, it's me

During my most recent trip to Salt Lake, the topic of my vomit phobia somehow came up. It’s something my family has always understood about me (as much as someone can “understand” an irrational fear, I suppose), but Annie’s husband Steve had a hard time wrapping his mind around it. It’s something that’s incredibly hard to explain, since it’s not like anyone ENJOYS the sound of someone throwing up, or the smell, or what have you. Like, I’ll mention “I’m terrified of vomit” and the well-meaning person on the other end of the conversation enthusiastically cuts in, “OMG, me TOO! I HATE throwing up or seeing someone throw up!” No, you don’t understand, I AM TERRIFIED OF VOMIT.

My typical anti-retch line of defense is to run. If I’m in a situation where I can’t run, I slide to the floor with my hands clamped to my ears, squeeze my eyes shut, and sweat profusely. I woke up once to the sound of Jon sick in the bathroom a few years back, and when he finally emerged he found me in a ball on the kitchen floor. It startled me half to death when he gently touched my shoulder to snap me out of it. And it doesn’t matter who is around. The fear grips me and the reaction is always the same. Much to the amusement of my friends, I once ended up halfway underneath the back seat of my friend Christa’s Jeep in high school when a group of us encountered a sick man in the McDonald’s drive through. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

But like I said, if at all possible, I run. Like the time my mom and I carried a deathly ill Annie to the truck for emergency care and I took off the second she threatened to throw up. Unfortunately, the moment occurred when Annie was only stuffed halfway inside the vehicle. In sprinting away, I left my poor mother attempting to simultaneously rescue the precariously positioned invalid from sliding out of the truck and desperately prepare a plastic bag know. Catching. Stuff.

Sorry mom. Sorry Annie.

Or that one time during youth conference when, right in middle of someone’s testimony, a panic-stricken 16 year old stood up in the middle of the chapel and shouted “Is there a doctor here?? Is there a DOCTOR??” I was sitting in the very back row and I was OUTTA THERE. Regrettably, my choice of footwear didn’t make for a subtle getaway. It was silent as the shocked congregation stared at him, mouths agape, but wait, what’s that noise? Flip-flop-flip-flop-flip-flop, there goes Jessie, sprinting out of the building. A friend told me afterwards that she was so impressed that my first reaction had been to run and call an ambulance. AN AMBULANCE! Nope, just looking out for Number One. That’s me. And as it turned out, he was having an asthma attack, not preparing to projectile vomit all over the house of the Lord.

Anyway, this is my life-long predicament. A prevailing fear of vomit. The implications for the future freak me out a little, I won’t lie. For example, what will happen when I have kids? From what I’ve heard, kids throw up constantly. Non-stop. And what about when a stranger is violently ill while also bleeding to death, and I’m the only person to apply pressure to their wound?? What then? Will I be able to handle it??

These are questions I do not have the answers to. I guess I’ll cross those bridges when I get there. In the meantime, please give me at least a twenty second head start if you’re feeling queasy. Kthxbai.


  1. kids don't really throw up non-stop. but there are some definite nasty times. lol. i had no idea it was this bad for you! i'll try not to be sick in your presence.

  2. Thoughts become...people vomiting. Don't worry Jessie, I am terrified of a legitimate foe as well, getting mauled by a Grizzly Bear!

  3. Um.. can I just tell you I thought about that kid at youth conference YESTERDAY? I am not even kidding either. Except I thought Dr. J said he was just "feeling the spirit" and that's why his heart was beating so fast. Maybe not.

    Anyway, way random are crazy!

  4. It's ok. I would have done the same to you.

  5. I actually had a mild version of this which exploded into a much more serious and debilitating phobia. I became afraid of going on boats or eating cookie dough and many other things, because I feared I/someone would be sick. Emetophobia took over my life and I finally had to get into therapy. It was a huge pain, but I'm back to a much more normal place. If you ever want techniques on coping, shoot me an email. (I'm not a creepy person I promise.) Regardless, I'm sorry; it sucks.