My involuntary reaction to many things is to vomit. I have a weak stomach and weak nerves, both of which seem to grow weaker with age. The number of times I throw up per fiscal quarter has to be more than the average, and it’s (almost) never brought on by binge drinking.
There have been days where I wake up in the morning, feel apprehensive about the day, and walk into my bathroom where I heave a few times, gargle some mouthwash, and head back to my bed to try and salvage whatever amount of rest I can before my alarm goes off.
If I see somebody else vomiting, I vomit. My gag reflex is the complete antithesis of that of a lauded female porn star.
So I wasn’t terribly surprised when, a couple nights ago, I woke up, rolled over, and threw up all over my nightstand. The most perplexing thing about having done so is that I didn’t make it to the toilet, something I pride myself on doing without fail.
But on this night I could barely even move, on account of the catalyst for my puke sesh: a serious migraine. For a few hours early Friday morning, I think I knew what Harry Potter felt whenever Voldemort would torture him remotely via that lightning bolt scar on his forehead. This was the second migraine of my life, and it was much worse and more acute than my last one.
I somehow found the strength to execute a haphazard clean-up job. I located the Scrubbing Bubbles and the Clorox wipes from the cabinet underneath our bathroom sink and, with only one eye open — I couldn’t keep the right eye open because there were elves with ice picks going to town on the nerves directly behind it and it felt less awful to keep it closed — cleaned up the halfway-digested seaweed salad and udon noodles. None of the regurgitation had landed on my phone. This was a small victory.
I popped some Excedrin and posted up in bed for the next few hours in excruciating pain, unable to fall back asleep because my head was surely going to explode. When you’re in such pain, the hours drag by very slowly, giving you a lot of time to get good and frustrated.
As I’ve grown older, I have become simultaneously more stressed out and more inept at dealing with stress. I’m convinced, in fact, that some of the stress I feel is mentally manufactured by me. It’s frustrating. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis live a more stressful life than I do. My existence is great and has been relatively easy, and how do I greet that? By being way too sensitive and taking things way too seriously. By thinking things matter when, really, they don’t. The fact that I am aware of this but don’t always appreciate it is something I work on remedying, but this work yields varying results. To feel unhappy when, by all accounts including your own, you should be happy (at least most of the time) is a difficult and perplexing thing to deal with.
So when something difficult happens to me, I tend to fall into a slump, where I’m no fun to be around and my general level of productivity decreases. Sometimes, this happens out of nowhere, when nothing difficult than a chemical imbalance begins to act up. People ask me what is wrong, and I cannot articulate to them what is. In the weeks prior to the migraine, I’d been caught in a slump for no tangible reason at all.
It should be noted that migraines are often brought on by stress.
When my condition hadn’t improved by the time I was supposed to get out of bed for work, I grabbed my laptop, giving it the stink eye as I typed out an email to my boss saying I was going to be out sick.
I popped more migraine medicine and washed it down with Z-Quil, made sure that no light was coming into my bedroom, and crawled back into bed. With the covers over my head to ward off the outside world, I fell into a restless sleep for a few hours.
When I woke up, I logged onto my computer and took care of a couple simple things for work, so that I wouldn’t feel like my entire day was a bust, and so my boss wouldn’t think I had played hooky to go to the beach or something. (I am always scared when I’m out sick that everyone at the office is talking about how I’m just being lazy and skipping out.. This is but one small example of the thoughts I come up with that produce unfounded stress. Most of the people at work probably don’t even realize I’m gone. Which also stresses me out, because if they don’t notice I’m gone, how long will it be before they decide they really don’t even need me there at all?)
The few hours of sleep I’d snagged made my head throb a little less, so I took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower. Determined to get as much sleep as possible afterward, I brought out the big pharmaceutical guns. I took more Excedrin Migraine, natch, and a prescription sleeping pill that I bust out exclusively in dire situations. It’s called Trazodone, and it will knock you way out for an extended period of time. The reason I rarely take it is one of its side effects: it can make you spur an erection that will not go down without surgical intervention.
A side effect like that is nothing to fuck with. So you know I wanted to taste a deep, deep sleep.
I turned on an episode of Malcolm in the Middle and passed out before its halfway point.
Another side effect of Trazodone — for me, anyway — is that it will make you have some of the strangest dreams you will ever experience. Long-lasting dreams that you will not wake up from until they come to some random conclusion in what feels like hours and sometimes days after the dream has begun.
On this particular trip down the deep sleep rabbit hole, I had a horribly vivid dream wherein my younger brother Ryan had been framed for the murder of a dirty policeman (the motive for this framing remains unclear). Now the policeman’s comrades were coming after my little brother, his family, and his friends.
At one point in the middle of the dream, my siblings and I found ourselves on a pirate ship, which we had boarded as a means of escape from our tormentors.
What does one do when he is presented with an opportunity to spend time aboard a pirate ship?
Urinate off the side of it, of course.
“Don’t cross the streams!” I remember bellowing to my brothers, who were peeing beside me in a show of solidarity.
Eventually, I woke up with a start and, after the few moments it took me to orient myself and realize that unethical cops were not attempting to wipe out the Muska bloodline, I realized that I was drenched in sweat.
Sweat that wasn’t sweat at all.
Sweat that was urine.
I had pissed myself during my dream.
And I had slept amidst it for an undetermined amount of time.
This had not happened since I was a single-digit age. Not even when I was blackout drunk.
I darted out of my bed, grabbing my stuffed animals to ensure I hadn’t given them a golden shower in the middle of the night. (I made it through the weekend without ruining my stuffed animals or my cell phone, so I have that going for me, which is nice.)
I stood there for a moment, a 25-year-old man staring at a urine-soaked bed, stuffed animals wrapped in his arms.
And then I laughed. Hard.
I laughed uncontrollably for a minute or so before I realized that the searing pain in my head had downgraded to a dull, distant throb, no worse than a headache one might get from staring at a computer screen for too long.
Still chuckling like an idiot, I stripped my sheets and bedding, tossed all of it into a garbage bag, and schlepped over to the laundromat next to my apartment. I was still laughing.
I realized that there are things worth being upset about, things you cannot control being upset about, and the irrelevant things you should shrug off and, hopefully, laugh at.
I never thought pissing my bed would be a catalyst for such a revelation.
As I walked back to my apartment, I looked at each person who passed me on the way, and realized something:
the worst tangible problem in my life had been that I’d gotten a migraine, thrown up on my nightstand, and pissed my bed.
As far as problems go, mine could be described as insignificant, personally embarrassing, and funny.
I often write about the embarrassing things that happen to me. (It’s actually a rarity when I don’t write about a humiliating experience.) People ask why I’m comfortable doing this.
And here is why:
I was sure most of the people I passed on the street that day — and every single day of my life — were dealing with worse things than I was, and they were continuing on with their lives, walking around and getting shit done.
And if this is true, I hope that somehow one of them reads this and laughs a little bit along with me. Because laughter is what makes me feel better when I’m down. It’s also something I’ll desperately need when I have some real problems.