Why I Can’t Eat At Indian Restaurants…

I have a fear of vomit.

There. I said it. I’ve alluded to it here in the past, but I’m going to come clean and own this right now…I think I am emetophobic.  Barf-phobic.  Deathly afraid of the stomach flu.

I’m not sure how this started, but it’s surfaced in the last three years since my children have been old enough to puke all over me, and certainly compounded by my recent bout of stomach issues.

I have barf bags hidden in my purse and in my car.  Homeopathic remedies for nausea at the ready.  A stash of ginger in my pantry.  There are large portions of Tosh.0 that I cannot watch.

What I’d like to wear to clean up puke…
Photo: Rainer Hungershausen

Thinking that I was crazy, I googled “fear of vomit” a few days ago, and up popped a whole slew of articles about this phobia. I had no idea it was a real thing. And look!  I’m not alone!  The Wikipedia article I read (and since it’s Wikipedia, it MUST be true) said that celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Matt Lauer also join me in this quirk.

I can’t really say what has spurred this all of this nonsense.  The last time I got sick enough to barf was the stomach bug I inherited from dancers in the company, mere hours before boarding a plane to New York City for my big Weaning Trip.  I spent days not wanting to eat, which in a city like NYC is down-right sacrilegious.  But man, did I look fabulous when running in to folks who last saw me 6 months pregnant!  Besides that, my last major memories of non-stop hurling involved bouts of food poisoning.  Encountering this gastrointestinal horror in a quaint Bed & Breakfast in a tiny village in Ireland was less than ideal.  Or romantic.

But perhaps the most crippling side effect of this vomit phobia is how I deal with my kids.  They’re little germ pools, and I’ve had a few rounds of GI distress with both of them.  Clean-up makes me squeamish.  My sympathetic nausea kicks in.  And usually I end up actually contracting the bug a day or so later.  So, now, every time one of them starts acting squirrely or gets the hint of a fever, I go in to panic mode.  Grabbing buckets and looking for any sign that stomach contents might be projecting their way on to my clothing or upholstery.   Even if the kids have never even said their stomach hurts.  I’m sure they’re picking up on this energy, and yet I don’t know how to stop it.

Thankfully Jon is immune to all of this.  He’s been in the trenches with me during the darkest times with the kids, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

The last time Mr. B got really sick, he was about two years old.  He had thrown up a few times and we got him back on track in a few days by the sworn BRAT diet and eliminating milk from his menu for the week.  He seemed normal in a few days, so at the end of the week, we met friends for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant that we loved.

Mr. B had a well visit with his pediatrician earlier that day, and he had given the green light for milk, so we gave Mr. B a sippy cup for the road and got in the car.  After we ordered our meal, we were catching up with our friends when Mr. B started getting really antsy and whiny.  I thought maybe he just wasn’t feeling the need to sit in his high chair.

When, all of a sudden, he blew chunks all over the table.  And the floor.  And Jon’s lap.  Jon picked him up and carried him outside, Mr. B leaving a trail of vomit all they way through the restaurant and out in to the parking lot.

I was mortified.  For the rest of the time we lived in Denver, I couldn’t bring myself to step foot back in to that Indian restaurant.  And subsequently, I can’t really entertain the idea of eating at any Indian restaurant.  One day, perhaps, I’ll tackle this phobia and be able to scarf down poppadoms and chicken tikka masala in an actual establishment.  Until then, I’ll continue to stock up on Lysol and probiotics.
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So much for not worrying…

Here I go again, ignoring my own initiative.  As I type this, my 5-year old is laying in bed with a 103 fever, having received his final immunizations for DtaP and something else this morning.  I’m really hoping that the fever is just a side effect, that the ibuprofen I forced down his gullet before bed will help him immensely, and that all will be back to normal in the morning.  Poor guy.  I could tell when I picked him up from camp that he just wasn’t right.  He was limping slightly and didn’t want to walk.  Fast forward to him coming home from t-ball practice and he was a quiet, lumpy shell of a kid that only wanted to lie down.  Oy.

However, he also has developed a new and awful habit of putting his fingers in his mouth at almost all times, so he could have easily picked up some yucky virus at the doctor’s office.  Especially as he and his sister crawled over every conceivable surface of that room.

At what age does all of the ickiness go away?  At what point in this whole parenting thing can I stop obsessing about every little headache, fever or complaint about a hurt tummy as a sign of the Second Coming of Debilitating Household Sickness that will plague us all for weeks?