Monday, January 6, 2014

155. No Motion Sickness

I went for a whale watch when I was 12 years old, and I didn't see a single whale. This was not because there were no whales to be seen. Indeed, my sister told me all sorts of amazing tales of seeing the grand majesty of the world's largest mammals. She even saw them surface and blow great columns of icy sea water like geysers over the endless horizon. The boat heaved and rocked on the swells of the sea, tilting and weaving like a drunk football player trying to navigate a field of drunker opponents.

I, meanwhile, was exercising my own interpretation of a "blowhole" over the side of the ship. I was clutching the rail, leaning over the edge and expelling a colorful rainbow of gifts to leave to Poseidon, the God of the Ocean, otherwise known more fondly as He Who Loves To Make People Barf. I coughed and shakily righted myself, wiping the back of my hand across my mouth. I looked blearily to the right, and saw 2 young boys gaping and laughing at me with their mouths hanging open. As an adolescent, I was generally pleasant and polite to strangers. But at that moment, I wasn't having it. I narrowed my eyes at the boys.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I said, interrupting their laughter, "Would you rather I did it INSIDE THE BOAT?!" And I made a move as though I was about to hurl in their general direction. They went pale and scampered away, their feet slip-sliding all over the wet sea-sprayed deck. I felt a little bad about it, but the guilt was swiftly mitigated by the fact that I immediately started hurling again over ramparts.

My entire life has been plagued by motion sickness. I was never able to go on another whale watch. My father was a Captain in the Coast Guard, and one time my sister and I were allowed to go on a 3-day excursion on his ship. We were going to go down the East Coast! We would get to hang out with cool sailors! Maybe there'd be whales! It was a giant ship, so maybe my motion sickness wouldn't be so bad! My sister spent the whole 3 days being an awesome mascot for the crew members, learning all the ins-and-outs of the ship, eating in the mess hall and playing cards with the old salty dogs. I think she even got to steer the ship at one point. I was (truthfully) very happy for her. However, I meanwhile spent the entire 3 days curled in a miserable ball in my dad's quarters, clutching my belly and hoping to die. I think the sum total of all the food I ate for those 3 days was: 5 gummy worms and 1,000 saltines.

One bonus of having terrible motion sickness was that it afforded me the privilege of sitting in the front seat on long car trips. As my father would so poetically say: "Pukers to the front!" I was not afforded the same level of kindness while living in New York City, as the closest thing to a "front seat" on a city bus is the sideways-facing gum-encrusted plastic molded nightmare chair positioned directly below a collection of armpits. Furthermore, it is inadvisable to yell "Shotgun!" on public transportation.

You might not be cursed with this affliction of over-active inner-ear fluid. Thus, this one probably doesn't apply to you. But this is from the perspective of someone who sees any sort of travel as some sort of morbid Hansel-and-Gretel journey with puke in place of bread crumbs. The fact that I was going to be able to make my way (albeit slowly) over a great distance without ever having to feel nauseous was incredible. I was going to make my way from Georgia to Maine, and I wouldn't ever have to feel ill in the process.

This might seem like it is a small victory. But sometimes what makes something great is not the presence of greatness, but also the absence of horribleness. Feeling nauseous is one of my least favorite feelings in the entire world. It feels like my body is betraying me, making me feel utterly icky for no real reason whatsoever. In general life, we are frequently expected to get places quickly, via car, plane, bus or train. But I was able to exist outside of that expectation for a while. It was sweet relief.

But then I went ahead and got Noro Virus anyway.

Clever Girl


  1. OMG, you are a Coastie Kid? I had no idea. I like you even more now. I suffered from car sickness a lot as a kid, and I didn't feel too good on the CG's smaller vessels, but I learned to deal with it as life went on and now, I just can't read while riding. The Norovirus sounds a lot worse than motion sickness.
    EarthTone - USCG (Ret)

    1. Oh hooray!! I'm so glad you were in the Coast Guard! Good people all around :) My dad always said that being on ships all the time didn't mean you didn't get sick anymore, you'd just get used to it. Oh man, I have so much respect for you being able to hang in there even with motion sickness!