misery loves companies



Over the weekend, we went to stormy, soggy Northampton to see our wonderful niece graduate from Smith – Gloria Steinem (herself an alum from ’56) spoke, and let’s just say she has lost none of the qualities that made her such a force throughout the last forty years: she’s still so pissed off, so utterly correct, and so distractingly pretty. You can see how she was the perfect stealth feminist of her time, and when she took to the podium, the Smithie gals gave her raucous standing O that would have put several rock shows to shame.

We’re preparing ourselves for the biggest get-together we’ve had since our wedding, and as usual, the farm is not always cooperating. The wifi internet just clicked to life today after five months of dormancy, and there’s cute mice living in my socks.

Worst of all, Tessa came down with a violent nausea that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. She must have gotten it from some outside source, because the rest of us are fine, but I have never seen that kind of dry heave misery in my life. Damn near ten hours of it, and my beloved antiemetics didn’t even offer relief. And no, she’s not pregnant.

I’ve said it before, but nausea is nature’s dealbreaker. It is the sucker punch; the broken nose, the torn ACL, the brick to the small of the back that renders the sufferer hopeless, hapless and helpless. I understand that we need misery to contemplate ecstasy, but why does nausea have to be so unbearable? Couldn’t we just experience something a little more toned-down?

Today’s CODE WORD: what is the exact circumstance of your latest utter, debilitating physical misery? No bruises or bumps, I mean stone cold non-functioning hell. Use lots of juicy adjectives!

0 thoughts on “misery loves companies

  1. LFMD

    Truth be told, my most debilitating physical misery was giving birth nearly 8 years ago. And, I did it with the “help” of epidurals, etc. Everything else pales in comparison. It was more painful than I ever could have imagined!

  2. Tanya

    I will agree with LFMD. Childbirth for me was by far the most debilitating thing I’ve ever experienced. I did not have the good fortune of drugs, and there is a saint whose name is Nurse Mary who allowed me to keep her in a headlock (am I not exaggerating) during the entire ordeal. For my troubles, I broke almost all the blood vessels in my face (lovely!). Oh yeah, and I have a sweet little boy, too. :)

  3. Bozoette Mary

    Oh, I can so sympathize with Tessa, because I went through a similar hell a couple weeks ago. It started about 7:30 (and I was on a conference call!) with stomach pains – the kind that say “Get ready, it’s inevitable” – and the spewage from both ends was, um, horrifying. It lasted 24 hours. I wept.

  4. Salem's little sister

    Childbirth for me wasn’t bad after the epidural kicked in and blessedly only 1 1/2 hours of pushing.
    My misery was what I call my gratuitous brain surgery. The doctors had found a vein pressing on my balance nerve behind my left ear and thought it was the cause of unexplained dizziness. The air-contrast sisternogram used to discover this problem was almost as bad as the surgery. Imagine have 6 ccs of spinal fluid removed and 6 ccs of air replaced in said spinal column. They had me sit up and watched the air bubble through a MRA travel up my spine and into my head. I actually felt it pass from one side of my temple to the other when they had me switch positions. It brings me to tears just thinking about it.
    Anywho . . . they decided to drill out part of my skull, put a piece of titanium sponge in between the nerve and vein and after leaving me with a 6 inch incision and a shaved stripe behind my left ear, it did nothing to help the dizziness. It’s been four years now of constant dizziness and thankfully, I’ve learned to adapt and my hair has grown back. A doctor here in Charlotte suggested an even worse surgery that “might” help and I said no thank you. I’m trying to believe that my first surgery was a way to warn me off of this second. At least I have an excuse for being a dizzy blonde.

  5. kent

    Sciatica due to herniated disc is my personal bete noir.
    But seeing our dog Marge get old dog vestibular syndrome may have caused me nearly as much pain. I can’t even begin to imagine the 3 days of bedspins she went through…

  6. ls

    3o hours of hard labor, with no drugs no nothing. then transfer from gentle birth center to hospital (also gentle) an epidural, pitocin, 2.5 hours of pushing, fetal distress, vacuum extraction…will never ever forget it as long as I live. And now the result of all that agony will be 4 in 2 days and I think, tonight will be the anniversary of going into labor. Labor is bad for 2 reasons: no one, nothing can describe the pain becasue it is unlike anything else, comparisons are meaningless. And, it is total body all-over agony, seemingly unrelenting and unending. As you can tell, 4 years later I am still freaked out by it. And no, I will never do it again. People say you forget the pain, I never will. But she’s worth it times 10.

  7. AnneD

    I feel for Tessa. My kids and I had that barf bug last fall. I felt as though I was being turned inside-out with heaving. And it didn’t stop… for a day and a half. My life during that time consisted of curling in bed, aching with fever from top to bottom; then bolting for the bathroom, emptying myself, and trying to drink a little water to stay hydrated. Sometimes I would just fall asleep on the bathroom rug so I wouldn’t have to drag myself to bed and back again. The poor kids went through this also.
    It is really torture.
    I agree with the labor horror stories. I was almost 41 when I gave birth for the only time (our other kids were adopted), and amped up on Pitocin because my water had broken a half-day earlier. The pitocin amplifies the contractions apparently. My first huge contraction (not the little “ah ha, I’m in labor” ones) gave “pain” a whole new meaning for me. I felt… impaled by a telephone pole. It was as if I’d never understood what pain could be. I howled like a banshee and begged for an epidural. The first epidural didn’t work (the idiot anesthesiologist missed the right point on my vertebrae) so I had another half-hour of dreading each wave of contraction until the chief anesthesiologist arrived, put the needle in properly, and turned off the agony. How did women survive this in the days before epidurals and anesthesia? Oh, right; many didn’t.
    Feel better, Tessa! And may the Force (or good hygiene; whatever works best) keep you and Lucy free from this bug, Ian.

  8. NOLAcathie

    I have to agree with Kent.
    We watched our beloved 13-year-old dog “Abby”take a serious decline into old-age this weekend, and on Monday morning, a warm, breezy spring day, she died peacefully in her traces on our deck, guarding our backdoor. She leaves a hole in our souls, but I know as our perfect pet and Eustis family member, she has merited the highest place in dog heaven.
    The very same day, Monday, out of the blue, I felt a piercing, white-hot, sharp pain pierce my left hip and shoot down my leg. I could not and still cannot sit down for more than a second. Appointment today, but I’m sure it’s sciatica.
    The pain would be slightly more tolerable if I weren’t supposed to be leaving for a much-anticipated 10-day trip to Turkey this Friday. Ah misere…

  9. Ian

    Kevin- yeah, it’s hard to compete with labor stories. Maybe I should have asked for a special disclaimer for guys, a la “I know this ain’t labor, but…”
    That said, women who give birth are superheroes.

  10. chip

    The only really debilitating physical condition I’ve had are migraines. I haven’t had one in a while but when I do get one I have to lie absolutely still in a dark room with no noise.
    There are probably meds that could help with those now and I haven’t had one in a while.

  11. caveman

    My wife and I were going to a cocktail party thrown for prospective members for a swim club we are trying to join (a club that really takes itself too seriously). As we were leaving the house I was hit the sharpest most intense wave of nausea I’ve ever experienced (while sober). The full release was quick and relatively painless and the nausea was mysteriously gone. After five minutes of waiting to see if my system was going to go into full collapse we decided to go to the party. Similar to not wearing a condom while traveling in Haiti, this was a bad idea.
    Midway through the cocktail hour with Biff and Muffy, the full roto bug came knocking on my door with its weekend bag packed for a sleepover. I can only compare it to the plastic device you attach to a garden hose that spins and shoots “water” wildly in every direction. I would break conversation midstream and sprint to the toilet (which was a european model with limited bowl water coverage – sucks for them). I told my wife I left my cell phone in the car and needed to see if the babysitter was calling. I was on my knees by our car emitting sounds that would have scared even the bravest Morrocan shriek monkey. Somehow drove myself home with my head resting on my open window.
    All in all very painful, although was psyched to lose the 10 lbs. Good times.

  12. Josie

    That’s easy. My husband and I were simultaneously laid out with a very adult version of rotavirus when our first child was eight months old, and the babysitter had the day off.
    Imagine us laying on the floor amidst toys all.day.long, pale, moaning and utterly incoherent. And there’s a child crawling over us. Other than counquering our body parts as mere obstacles in her path, she did a pretty good job ignoring us.
    It always reminds me of the movie Trainspotting.

  13. Anne D.

    NOLAcathie: I’m so sorry for the loss of your pet. We have gone through that four times, and I was amazed at the searing grief I experienced, and how long it lasted.
    Read James Dickie’s “The Heaven of Animals” – not exactly a pretty poem, very frank in its “red in tooth and claw” view of nature, but somehow it helped me when our first dog died. And please nobody yell at me for trivializing the death of a spouse by comparing it to my dog’s demise, but I also found empathy in CS Lewis’s “A Grief Observed.”

  14. Just Andrew

    I had this splinter a couple of weeks ago in my hand. I was working on our fence and had just pulled out a pressure treated 4×4 with concrete still stuck to the bottom – heavy thing. As I lowered it towards the ground, a splinter was delivered into my thumb. Of course the pain caused me to drop the 4×4, which promptly thumped on the ground, bounced up and landed on my foot.
    That little splinter hurt worse than my foot and took some serious digging to get it out.
    The whole ordeal was helped greatly by my swearing loudly at myself for being such an idiot to do such a thing in the first place.

  15. eric g

    First of all, I agree with Ian: anyone who gives birth to a child has been through more than I will ever go through. For my own pain, it’s a tie: (1) Summer 1988: I’m working in a non-union furniture factory in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and I shoot a three-inch staple through my thumb with a pneumatic air gun, stapling my hand to the nightstand that I was building. I had to walk along the assembly line with the nightstand until the line could be shut down. Ouch. (2) Spring 2005: Food poisoning from a very bad chicken sandwich. I nearly passed out at one point, and I’m pretty sure I experienced the first stages of the metaphysical passage from life to death at one point. I wanted to dial 911, but I could not get to the phone. I survived. No more chicken sandwiches.

  16. xuxE

    caveman, the water sprinkler toy thing is spot on, that is exactly what it’s like!
    i was going to go with the time when me, my husband and my youngest son all had the rotavirus type thing and we managed to hit every porcelain or stainless steel vessel in the house, or the time i was still breastfeeding and had it so bad i couldn’t get up off the floor because i was so dehydrated and had to go get an IV for fluids.
    but labor? truly on another level…
    my first one was an absolute nightmare. i had no childbirth classes because i was on bedrest. but no worries since i was planning to get an epidural. however… when the time came to load me up with the drugs, my anesthesiologist could not find my epidural space. and that’s not to say that he didn’t try! and try! and try! while i had to stay sitting perfectly still through my whole transition labor! we finally stopped the sadistic bastard when it was time to push. at which point it would have been nice to have had some childbirth classes since natural childbirth was inevitable at that point.
    the good news is that since the epidural trial-and-error method experience was far far worse than the natural childbirth experience, i just went straight for the natural childbirth the second time and it was the bomb! i found an awesome midwife who had hospital priveleges. so basically the second labor was a total party, i had all the nitrous i wanted, no epidural, and gave birth with this bjork song ‘aurora’ on repeat and the midwife was totally fine with it. i even had a pitocin drip during this labor and was still blissed out.
    if i could skip the 9 months gestation and cut right to that part i could easily have like 5-10 more kids.

  17. SMS

    Our 2 year old had the rotovirus thing and we were congratulating ourselves on our excellent hygeine practice. 2 days later on the 9 hour drive home it hit us. We checked into a Hampton Suites, put the baby to bed and basically took turns in the one bathroom all night long. Someone up above heard our prayers because the baby slept all night despite all that was going on around him. During the 3 hours the next morning it took us to pack and dress (too wiped out!) he happily watched cartoons and bounced on the sofa bed. My husband felt so bad for the way we were leaving the room he left a $20 tip and note encouraging lots of bleach.
    As for childbirth you all are freaking me out! I am due in November (first pregnancy, son is adopted). Is general anesthesia an option? You know, wake up when it is over? :)

  18. CP

    not recently but in my lifetime…
    anaphalactic shock, food poisoning/an all night session of explosive liquid diarrhea, and the buzz of losing my virginity killed by my discovery that nonoxynol-9 really stings my peehole.
    was at a porn shoot in the valley yesterday (true story — and no, I did not perform in this film nor do I perform/participate in porn or any other form of so-called “adult entertainment” at all), and all I kept thinking about was how weird and funny our bodies are and that we’ll all be dead someday. (and when’s lunch. and I hope it’s good. and once we ate, how surprisingly good lunch on there was!)

  19. Rebecca

    My migraines beat labor (three times) by a landslide. Part of it may be that at least with labor, there’s a huge benefit from the pain. (Two with epidurals, last one natural.) A bad migraine makes me think I’m dying or having an aneurism for no reason.
    The comment about Moms being heroes brings up something that I would like to discuss. Last night, I watched the local LA news because I was up late. They interviewed some family members of a guy killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb. Everyone called this guy a hero. And it just struck me as odd that being killed by a roadside bomb was considered heroic. It sounds like bad luck to me. Is the word hero being overused in this war, or am I being cynical? Am I a horrible person for thinking that not every service member killed in Iraq is a hero?

  20. NOLAcathie

    Thanks so much Anne D. for your kind sympathies.
    I read C.S. Lewis’ book many years ago, but think I will pull it out again, and I’ll check out the poem.
    When our dog Jack died I gave my husband a book called “Old Dogs Remembered” and it has been his bittersweet solace these past few days. I think pet grief is so profound because they so perfectly fulfill their God-given nature, living and loving unconditionally. We humans have much to learn from them.
    No sciatica, but small comfort in that news.
    I have some kind of a weird pinched nerve where femur and hip meet up…same excruciating pain as sciatica. Prescription: no trip to Turkey, plenty of relaxation, icebags, and patience – none of which I wanted to hear at the moment. Hard to believe that a literal “pain in my rear” is what is keeping me from my long-awaited trip.

  21. Steph Mineart

    My recent bout with Diverticulitis sent me to the hospital overnight, and I’ve been in and out of the ER with Pleurisy over the last year.
    But neither those nor my appendix exploding were anything much compared to the open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve. You know how they ask “on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?” – My ten is shifted far out there nowadays. It takes a lot more to bring me down than it used to.
    I’m only 38 and I sometimes I feel like I’m 60.

  22. jje

    Latest utter, debilitating physical misery? Stone cold non-functioning hell?
    The 15 solid minutes of hardcore meltdown tactics demonstrated by my (nearly) two year old after being forced to leave behind a silly vacuum cleaner at a friend’s playdate today.
    I tried every trick in the book to get him to drop the vacuum cleaner and peaceably join me on my way out the door.
    I finally had to strong-arm the toy out of his grubby little paws and pick him up like a sack of angry potatoes.
    “NO! NO! I vacuum! I vacuum! Share Connor! Connor share! Vacuum cleaner!”
    I’m sure every neighbor on the block heard his tortured screams as I lugged him to the car, an event which featured kicking and impressive attempts to bite me.
    Putting him in the car seat was a Sisyphean task. One side strapped in, then escaping as I went to work on the other side. His body would go limp, then rigid and then he’d thrash – wash, rinse, repeat with much barbaric yawping.
    He’s howling about the damn vacuum cleaner and all I want to do is sit down on the curb and howl along with him. Instead, I laughed maniacally because it kept me from wailing in pure frustration.
    Of course, he turned into Mommy’s Little Angel once we got home, charming the pants off our next door neighbor with his antics, which included pulling off the C on the back of my husband’s beloved little car. (Daddy was super pleased to get home from work and discover that he’s now the proud owner of an “Arrera.”)
    Yeah, childbirth via c-sec, two near death experiences, yada yada yada…all gloriously miserable stuff.
    But since you asked for the very latest…this was pretty much it, hands down, six days a week and twice on Sundays.
    :-) Gotta love him, though.

  23. dpdir

    Planter warts. Digging out planter warts. And the the 5 days after walking around with a dime size hole in the bottom of your foot.

  24. GFWD

    Somewhere, DFB&T is going to smack his forehead at what he’s about to read: but I’ll throw out there that rupturing both Achilles tendons (5 years apart), and having the muscle roll up the back of my leg is pretty doggone painful.
    I’d still rather do that, however, than get preggers and deliver a 7 lb. anything through my holiest of holies. So, to put it in perspective, I’m only trying to compete with the men on this one.
    Caveman’s description of the nausea applied to me last month while on business in N’awlins. Only I can blame the infamous Hurricanes and not some random virus. After my body rejected everything in my stomach, not only did I feel sorry for the hotel’s maid, I felt sorry for my slacks and the dry cleaner.
    “Projectile” doesn’t adequately describe it. More like Exorcist-style vomiting. And I did sound like a Morrocan shriek monkey.

  25. Lola

    A completely torn Achilles tendon resulting in a lengthy convalesence where I learned to walk with my 14 month old toddler. Making it even more depressing was that it occured at the beginning of the summer, prime ocean swimming season here in Nova Scotia.
    I have never before experienced being physically handicapped and hope to never again. The six weeks in a cast and on crutches was a cakewalk compared to trying to stretch out the repaired tendon and build up some speed so I could walk faster than a snail. The upside was that I had a temporary disabled parking pass so my husband could at least drive to places where I could feel like a normal human being.

  26. Lola

    GFWD! I didn’t see your comment before I posted. Both tendons! I think I would be on antidepressants forever.
    I will say though I’ve delivered two kids and found both of those experiences, even with the second being a c-section, preferable to the Achilles recovery. If only they could invent an epidural for the relearning to walk process.

  27. Martha

    I’m only now dealing with the PTSD of my ’06 summer of pelvic radiation for uterine cancer. I won’t go into the details but the cure was certainly worse than the disease I barely knew I had. The effects of the radiation were even worse than the 3 months of chemo that followed. But, the chemo caused a known but inexplicable “radiation recall” in which your tissues re-live the effects of the radiation. With that said, I still can not imagine the pain of childbirth!

  28. LFMD

    Hi Ian. I have read this blog long enough to know that your birthday was this weekend. I think that it was your 40th, no? Hope that you had a WONDERFUL birthday! Are you really 40? Can it be that the hip college student I remember who churned out those wonderful Wednesday’s Child articles is 40??????????????


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