Smooth Sailing in Rough Waters

Two days after coming down with vertigo, I walked into Jessie’s bedroom. As my gaze focused on my 12-year-old daughter’s desk, at least I think there was a desk under everything piled on it, my vertigo symptoms returned and I suddenly felt dizzy, weak, and unsteady, but at least I didn’t throw up. Let’s face it, many parents need to remind their children to clean their rooms.

Prior to leaving Jessie’s room, I noticed the painting on Jessie’s wall of a mother and daughter wearing similar dresses standing on a riverbank covered in flowers. Mattie, my wife, and I purchased the painting shortly after we married. We liked it because it shows a peaceful scene, with the young girl’s right hand waving at two sailboats off in the distance.

When we made the purchase, I didn’t realize that sailboats and I wouldn’t get along. To summarize my sailboat-ride history in one word, it would be “Blaaaaaaaaaah.” Fortunately, I learned a valuable lesson on my last excursion sailing rough waters (okay, sailing the calm waters of a river on a beautiful day). Be prepared!

My sailboat experience consists of three rides, one fun, two of them, not so much. During one trip, I hovered over the large garbage can on deck for most of the journey. On my last sailboat voyage, I used the plastic bag I had stuck in my pocket in case of seasickness. One bag wasn’t enough.

Monday, when I came down with vertigo, I was reminded of that seasick feeling. When I awoke, it didn’t take long to realize I needed to visit my doctor. Every time I stood up, I had to lay down. Three times I felt such nausea that I rushed to the bathroom. As Mattie drove me to the doctor’s office, I reclined the seat, clutching my two plastic bags, one inserted inside the other. I used them minutes after Mattie pulled into the doctor’s office parking lot and jokingly blamed it on her driving.

Prior to getting out of the car, I reached under the car seat and grabbed two clean plastic bags to carry in to the doctor’s office. We keep a few stashed there to pick up after our dog when we travel. I held Mattie’s arm as she walked me to the elevator, thinking this was no time for a ride of any sort, then into the exam room, where I immediately laid on the exam table, clutching my plastic bags.

The nurse practitioner came in, but I didn’t get up. I made her diagnosis of vertigo easy when I jumped off the table to use my bags. When I’m throwing up, I prefer to do it in the privacy of my own bathroom, not surrounded by my wife and nurse practitioner, but I counted my blessings that I had brought the two bags, and cracked jokes, as I generally do when I’m uncomfortable.

As the nurse practitioner watched me bent over, continuing to display “symptoms,” she suggested I sit on the floor, as that would be better for us both than me falling on the floor. I knelt on one knee and continued to make entertaining conversation. The nurse practitioner even complimented me, “You’re good at throwing up.”

When I made it back up to the exam table, I requested a clean bag in case I got sick again. Mattie and I chuckled when the nurse practitioner stepped out to the hallway and yelled, “Do we have any barf bags?” A few moments later, she returned with a tall kitchen garbage bag, which I gratefully accepted.

The nurse prescribed three medications, one of them used by pregnant women who have morning sickness. Luckily, Mattie didn’t injure herself from laughing so hard, and was able to drive me home. Two days of rest and medication helped a lot, and I was feeling considerably better until I walked into Jessie’s cluttered room.

As I look at the painting with the two sailboats, I think back over the events of the past year. Our family took a major journey, moving for Mattie’s job, though we drove our two vehicles down the interstate rather than two sailboats down the coast. There have been happy times of smooth sailing and some instances of rough waters when I might have benefitted from having a supply of those anti-nausea pills. But we must continue to sail on and enjoy the journey, even when stressful events rock our boats, confident that smoother sailing days will return.

As I look at Jessie’s desk, yeah, it looks a little rough, but in the big picture, it’s minor. Wait – maybe my morning sickness pills are working too well? “Jessie, clean your room!”

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.

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