Saturday, August 02, 2014

Thumbs down

Almost exactly 21 years ago, I was vacationing on the Outer Banks with my family during the summer between my second and third years of law school.  My roommate came out with me, and she had a friend who was working as a hand on a charter fishing boat.  I had never been out deep sea fishing, so she arranged for me to hitch a ride on the boat one day.

Unfortunately, there was a nor'easter that day.  The water was extremely rough and choppy, and the boat did nothing but shoot up a crest and then free-fall 10 feet into a trough, over and over, for the entire 12 hours I was on it.  I started vomiting about an hour and a half in, and pretty much didn't stop for the rest of the day.  It was truly the sickest, most horrible feeling I've ever had in my life - worse than childbirth with Zeke, worse than when I separated my shoulder (both of which hurt like a motherfucker).

And ever since then, I have been extremely susceptible to motion sickness.  Before that trip, I loved roller coasters and didn't have much issue with motion sickness (except that I've never been able to read in a moving car).  After that trip, I feel nauseated every time my plane lands, or if I'm driving over particularly hilly, twisty roads.  Roller coasters are no longer my friend.

This was the backdrop against my decision to take the kids to an amusement park this morning.  But it's more of a county fair-type deal, rather than a Six Flags type deal - the rides are small, and I didn't think it would be a problem.

The first ride was one of those spinning teacup type rides, with the seat both going up and down small hills but also spinning on an axis.  I had to go in order for Josie to be able to go, because she's too short to go on it without an adult.

Some of the spins were OK, and some of them were super severe.  My stomach wasn't thrilled.  But I made it.

The next ride was one of those giant boats that swings back and forth.  Again, I needed to go on in order for Josie to be able to go.  Again, I didn't love it, but I survived.  It was certainly better than the spinning teacup ride.

The next couple of hours were uneventful.  The ferris wheel, bumper boats, little roller coasters, all very innocuous.  There were even little pony rides.  The kids had a blast and were being very cute.  We were having a nice time hanging out.

Ferris wheel selfie.  And yes, that's a sticker of a rose on my chest.  Josie gave it to me and it would have offended her if I had taken it off.

This ride involved flying bananas.  Yeah, I don't know either.
Then the kids wanted to go on the spinning teacup ride again.  I was wary, but I agreed because I didn't want Josie to feel left out.

Now, at the beginning of these rides, the operators instruct everyone on staying seated, keeping your hands in the ride, that sort of thing.  They also tell you that if at any point you feel like you need to stop and get off, all you need to do is stick out your hand with your thumb down.

The ride started and our cup started spinning fast and hard.  I felt my stomach contract and the nausea beginning to build.

"Mama, are you OK?"  Zeke asked, a concerned look on his face.

We started another hard spin.  I shut my eyes tight and tried to breathe.  "I don't feel so great," I said.

"Are you going to throw up?"  His eyes grew very big and worried.

"I don't think so.  I'll be OK.  The ride will be over soon."

Another hard spin.  I felt myself almost trying to curl into the fetal position.  My eyes were squeezed shut, my chin was tucked down, I brought my knees up, and I broke into a cold sweat.  I put my hand over my mouth, just in case.


Finally the ride ended.  I felt really shaky and weak.  Josie said, "Mama, you need to drink some water right now.  Go drink some water and no more rides for you!"

I nodded and took a drink from my hydration pack.  There's a reason they call her "Mama Jo" at her school.

The kids went on some more rides that they were tall enough to go on without me.  I sat in the shade watching them, drinking water and trying to shake the nausea.

Then they wanted to go on the swinging boat ride again.  I said, "I really can't go on that ride.  I don't think I can do it without getting sick."

Luckily, there were enough people on the ride that there was a stray teenager without someone next to him.  "Do you mind if she sits with you?" I asked, regarding Josie.  "I'm not feeling well."  The kid agreed and was very sweet to her.

They got off and immediately said, "again!"

So I found another adult for Josie to sit with for another ride.


There were no more stray adults, this time.  I looked at the ride, figured I'd be able to make it (there was no spinning, after all), and got on.

I knew after the first swing that I had made a terrible mistake.

Once more, I tried to focus on breathing.  Josie distracted me for a couple of seconds by giggling about the fact that my boobs were bouncing with the movement of the ride (my 4-year-old daughter is actually a 13-year-old boy.  Or a 45-year-old man.  It never changes, amirite, ladies?)  "Mama!  Look at your boobies!  They're bouncing!"

But soon I knew I wasn't going to make it.  I felt the contents of my stomach rising.  I stuck out my thumb and yelled to the poor attendant, "I have to get off."

He stopped the ride as quickly as he could.  I bolted over to the fencing around the ride and threw up over the side, away from where people would be walking or standing.

"Guys, we gotta go home."

Thankfully, J has the kids at his place tonight.  So I'm able to lie on my couch, watching soccer on TV, nibbling on hot dog buns and drinking soda water with lemon to settle my stomach.  I don't have to take care of anyone or entertain anyone.

No more rides for Mama.

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