Have you ever had a stomach virus so violent you collapsed on the bathroom floor after each round, grateful that the cool tiles took the edge off your feverish body?
Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, I started to feel queasy. Didn’t think too much of it, kept working, even had a brief business meeting over coffee after work—although I did opt for mint tea, thinking it might help. It wasn’t until I stood up afterwards that I knew I was in trouble. I wasn’t about to let on to my clients, so I said goodbye quickly and headed for the subway. All I could think about was getting home, and it would be far quicker to travel underground than to take a taxi.
The train came quickly enough, and I got a seat, but once it started moving I knew I’d made a mistake. The streaks of light outside the windows, the fluorescent glare inside, the incessant rocking… I was doomed. When the train pulled into the next station—Times Square—I got off as quickly as I could and collapsed onto a bench. I think I may have even shoved somebody. I sat there, unsure of what to do, for about thirty seconds. Should I go back above ground and take a taxi? That would take a long time, and I couldn’t imagine how I’d fare in stop-and-go traffic. Maybe I should call S to come get me? Well, fine, but then I’d be sitting in the subway station for a half-hour, and still have to ride the train to get home. I was on the verge of tears, and panic. Williamsburg has never felt so far away. In mid-debate, a rush of bile came up and I dashed to the track’s edge, barely making it in time to avoid vomiting all over myself and the platform. Luckily, I had some tissues in my bag, so I was able to clean myself up a bit. I was surprised, but nobody batted an eye at the woman puking onto the tracks. Or maybe it’s not so surprising—we New Yorkers pride ourselves on minding our own business, and the station wasn’t exactly crowded. It’s entirely possible nobody even noticed.
I sat back down on the bench, and let three more trains go by in case it was about to happen again. After ten minutes of relative calm, I decided that the only way I was going to get home was to get back on the train. So I did, and amazingly enough, I made it home in one piece. My public vomiting was blissfully brief.
On the other hand, the private kind continued every 90 minutes through the night. I had no idea it was possible to get so violently sick, so many times, with just one meal in my stomach. My lunch just kept coming and coming… after a while, it was fasinating, in a sick way, to see what was left. It finally subsided around 3:30 Thursday morning, leaving me weak and shaky all day, and unable to sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. S took good care of me, though, making Jello and plain white rice so I’d have something in my stomach. Neither of them is kosher for Passover, but I have a feeling God understands.
I’m much better today—it truly was a 24-hour bug. And here’s where my eating-disorder-brain emerges: when I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought was After all that, I’d better have a huge loss at Weight Watchers on Saturday.