We’ve all been there – the bathroom floor. Whether you’re sick from a flu, food poisoning, pure rage against your enemies, too much partying, we have all spent time at one point or another praying to the porcelain god that the everything would just stop, and that whatever it is you did, undercooked chicken or too much tequila, you’ll never EVER do it again. Then, a few weeks, or months down the road, you find yourself in the same place, again, for a different reason, or if you’re unfortunate, the same.
On Friday, alone in my hotel room, I found myself with this dilemma.
Thursday night I attended an event for work in New York, specifically, a cocktail party. I had a few drinks before hand, explained to my companions for the evening to keep me away from eggs because of allergies. Let them know I had my epipen on hand, and where my medical insurance was in my purse, in case an ambulance needed to be called for me.
Egg yolks hide in nearly everything, and while my reaction to eating something cooked or baked with egg is less severe than eating actual eggs, events still make me nervous, especially since I have a variety of other allergies and intolerances, both confirmed and unconfirmed.
My major issue though, is all of this is still relatively new to me, as in, less than five years. I spent many years sick and nauseated, asthmatic with sensitive skin, always tired and in pain. I had testing done, found some allergies and intolerances, some that are really hard not to just ignore, since they just cause stomach issues, so why not treat myself here and there, as long as I’m avoiding the big one, eggs? It’s all about balance, right?
Oh, that drunk girl logic of mine couldn’t be more wrong.
The cocktail party was sponsored by a tequila company. Already a few drinks in, and no longer used to both heavy drinking or drinking much in my new weight class, I found the food section quickly. I spent approximately two hours drinking straight tequila and eating couscous, being watched by my steadfast companions, and scolded when I got too close to the dessert table.
The night was still young when the cocktail party began drawing to a close. The group of us, not normally all together in the same city, were not ready to separate, so we made our way to a jazz club in Chelsea. They mused over flights of whiskey, while I slung gin gimlets. We ordered salads, and flat breads and charcuterie boards – all items believed to be safe for my drunken snacking. I ate salad with a wooden meat fork, and nibbled cheese bits to soften my palette after sampling whiskies. When I finally made it back to my hotel, I had been up for nearly 24 hours. Exhausted, and drunk, but very happy, I collapsed for a good night’s sleep.
As soon as I woke up, I knew something wasn’t right. I guzzled water, checked the time, only seven thirty, which meant I had only taken a four hour nap. I tried to sleep, but my stomach was restless. I pride myself on knowing my stomach well. If I can fight the nausea, and sleep most of it off, I’m usually fine. When on the extreme spectrum of hungover, I will get sick, once or twice maybe, and that usually solves things. By eight thirty, I still hadn’t slept, and I had a meeting at ten thirty, so I sighed and drudged myself to the bathroom. Might as well get this over with, I figured, so I could get on with my day.
I remember specifically looking up from what would become my nest for the day, and seeing Angelina Jolie staring down at me. I knew the moment I began to get sick, this wasn’t just a hangover. There was something in my body, in my blood stream, that should not be there, and that this purge was not going to end until my body had sufficiently completed what it felt was a proper purge cycle, which could be as long as sixteen hours. As I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I had done this to myself, I was trying to figure out what I could have possibly eaten to trigger this, I sighed. The cheese. My penicillin allergy is sometimes triggered by old cheese, or the rinds of soft cheeses, and while hazy, I remembered letting a slice of soft brie melt in my mouth after a swill of whiskey. I was in for the long haul.
I won’t go into tedious details about the rest of my day, but I was late for my meeting. Almost threw up in a cab, twice. Slept most of the day, between bouts of being sick. I didn’t eat anything until 10pm and even then, it was just some popcorn from Starbucks, but not before I lost half my London Fog.
All because I neglected to take care of my allergy restrictions.
This purge process is something I’m terribly familiar with, but when it happens, I normally have support. A boyfriend to make me tea, Anna to bring me crackers, mom with soup and ginger ale. People in my life who scold me, and passively encourage me to go get retested, get some extensive tests to see what else could be triggering these reactions, because it’s not ‘just a hangover’ or a ’24 hour bug’. This time, for the first time ever, I was alone, and more than being alone, I was in a strange city, in a strange room. It was quite possibly the worst feeling in the world.
I returned home with a new sense of self on the matter. I’m going to schedule detailed Red Paw testing, for food, environmental and chemical allergies and intolerances. The issues that I know I have, I need to pay more attention to. My albumin(cow milk) allergy needs to take priority, as well as the penicillin allergy. I need to be taking better care of myself, because I’m not always going to have someone around who can help me if I don’t.
So today, it’s a cautionary tale. If you know you are compromised, whether it’s just an allergy, or maybe a condition, don’t push yourself. It’s not worth putting your health at risk and pushing extremes, even for a few hours of fun. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it, or put it off. Whether it’s a doctor, a naturopath, or even a white witch from the yellow pages, seek your choice of medicine when you’re body tells you to. Your body works so hard every day, keeping you alive and moving, and the least we can do is repay it, but giving it the medicine it needs when it’s feeling down.
Most of all though, don’t be stubborn like me. If you find yourself on the floor of your hotel room, sick beyond reason, reach out. You might be surprised at who’s willing to help you up off the floor.