Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Octamom, Clinical Vomitologist


Ah, Thanksgiving with the extended family. Nothing like going over the river and through the woods to fellowship over turkey and pie, tossing the football, sifting through old memories and, oh yes, spewing toxic microbes on one another with sniffly sneezing and hacking coughs so that the intervening weeks between Turkey Day and Christmas become an infected petri dish of feverish (literally) preparation to go see all these people again.

It's hit our crew pretty hard, the Cousin Virus. It began with a rouge fever in 5 of 8 (he thought it might be the resurrection of the tapeworm) and found footing the the tummy of 3 of 8. Of course, vomiting for 3 of 8 is something out of Dante masterpiece, a full-throttle examination of the presence of evil in the world and how this can dovetail with the mercy and righteousness of God. Take such penetrating questions as, "How could God let there be something like throwing up?", "Why is it taking so long for me to be healed?", and, my all time favorite, "How many more times do I have to throw up???!!!!" (to which I feel like responding, "I don't know, son--but believe me, at this point, if it would end the whining, I'd take over for you if I could...").

I wrote a piece a few years back about the personality profiles involved in observing vomiters (yes, I made up that word myself and claim all proprietary rights to it) while working on my doctorate in Vomitology (another word I have also made up and am claiming rights to--I will find you if you try to use this 'intellectual' property). As one can imagine, the rigorous coursework and engrossing labs involved in earning the Vomitologist designation have taken years and years to complete and I feel a responsibility, nay, a compulsion to share all the wealth of my experience and observation.

As the nation's leading (and only) Vomitologist, I submit that there are three observable personality types that quickly emerge as an individual enters the character-revealing experience of a solid round of the stomach bug. I originally titled this thesis "Puke Personalities and Their Presence in the Projectile Arts" and it is with great pride that I must say the title holds up well even today. I hope this ground-breaking work can help all parents identify and appropriately respond to the vomiters in their lives.

THE MARTYR

This personality is easily identified because said personality basically tells you he is a martyr. Listen for such questions and statements as "Why is God doing this to me? Why is God allowing me to throw up so much? Doesn't God care that I'm throwing up? Why am I the only one throwing up right now? I have thrown up more that anyone in the family! Throwing up is not fair! What doesn't anyone care that I am throwing up??!!" These statements will often be followed by yet another round of stomach-emptying activity, complete with yelling, wailing and the like. It is always interesting as a parent to have to discipline a child in the throws of this behavior (look for my upcoming article "Positive Parenting Techniques Mid Stomach Virus"). Nothing like threatening time-out to a vomiting kid who is screaming like a banshee in labor. The vomit sound effects alone associated with THE MARTYR would make one think that the intestines have turned inside-out and are now pooled at the bottom of the toilet. Please note that there is a milder form of this personality. The milder form will simply gravitate to where other family members are gathered and moan quietly. Said personality will sigh frequently and give a catalog of symptoms, even though all family members are infected and are full aware of the various condiments available with this virus main dish. Look for the milder form in oldest children, the more severe type in younger members of the family who already traffic in the belief that they aren't getting enough attention anyway, vomit or no...

THE DENIER

This profile generally shows up in an upbeat personality full of optimism and hope, to the point that you can be sure of mandated upholstery and carpet cleaning by the time the tummy bug has run its course. This chipper little personality will deny to the final millisecond that vomiting is even a remote possibility. Such questions as, "Do you feel sick, would you like a bucket, why don't you stay on the tile?" are all met with vigorous head shakes and emphatic "No"s, all to no avail (with no offense to Zig Ziglar intended). Within a few more ticks of the clock, this personality will have hosed down your new couch and wool carpet with a contribution of gastric contents, all the while looking genuinely perplexed and shocked as to this turn of events, particularly since they were practicing such positive thinking. I find this personality to be the most dangerous profiled in the Projectile Arts and you should proceed with great caution if you identify one of these in your household. Don't ever take their word...just go ahead and place them naked in a empty bathtub with the TV/VCR hooked up a safe distance away with plenty of snacks (go for neutral shades in your food choices) and clear liquids. At worst, you've let them blow a whole day watching all the Barbie Princess movies in the buff. At best, you've saved yourself from having to re-upholster. Just trust me.

THE YODA JEDI MASTER

I thank the Good Lord that He allowed me one child who fits this profile. This is the person who will come down with said stomach bug, find their own bowl, get their own wash rag, curl up in a little ball (on tile, mind you!) and re-emerge 24 hours later healed and hungry. These personalities tend to be pragmatic, non-procrastinators who have a high level of tolerance and acceptance. This stomach event was not necessarily on their Hello Kitty PDA, but now that it's here, you might as well gather the necessary materials and hunker down. If you have have any goals in your life, this is the personality you might want to aspire to, particularly if you want to come to my house and get sick. This personality says, "Hey, face it, not only does life not always give you lemonade, sometimes it gives you the violent heaves and you might as well build character while involuntarily spasming your abs..." Another aspect of this personality that I greatly admire is the ability to silently rid the stomach of those nasty tummy bugs. No drama, no screaming, no gurgling, just a straight-forward emptying, another erased tally mark from the projected number of vomit incidents per tummy bug and back into the huddle. What a team player, what a gift!

I include this information here for your diagnostic advantage. Obviously this is high-brow research so be looking for it in your favorite medical journal and also as a possible board game (yes, negotiations with Milton Bradley are in the works--don't you think it would be fun to sit around cocktail parties and do Vomit Personality Assessments?)
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