Why I Don't Look Forward to Cold Weather With Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

I woke up this morning wondering if I could even “do” today. Three years passed my diagnosis of cyclic vomiting syndrome and now I’m forgetting. I’m always reminding people that although invisible, I am chronically ill. My illness is in fact so odd, that I can be fine for months on end and them bam — I’m out of the healthy world for up to two weeks.

On mornings like today I am painfully reminded that although I pass as someone perfectly healthy, I’m far from it. Perhaps the majestic summers I’ve lived through are what causes me year after year to forget that I am chronically ill? I’ve had this disease as long as I’ve had memory and I do not recall ever being symptomatic in the summer.

The ends of September/beginnings of October I’ve lived through tell a very different tale. Historically, when the weather starts to turn, my stomach starts to churn. When stomach viruses invade public places (usually when it starts to get cold) I become a germaphobe. I carry hand sanitizer at all times and wipe down everything with sanitizing wipes. Normally this does the trick, but sometimes my efforts do not save me from the norovirus. A person who has only experienced the typical stomach flu probably cannot understand why someone with my illness would be terrified of contracting a little stomach bug. Well, let me say that what might be a little stomach bug to you can very easily turn into a trip to the emergency room for me, where I’ll lay for hours in a hospital bed while medical professionals draw my blood, insert an IV and give me a cocktail of medicines that is doing who knows what to my body. What may be a tiny stomach inconvenience to you becomes something that has to be treated by medical professionals for me. If not, I can become so dehydrated, my body’s organs begin to fail. Every visit to the emergency room comes with the possibility that if I don’t get rehydrated and properly treated, it might end with me leaving in a body bag.

I know scientists are researching the different causes of cyclic vomiting syndrome. I’ve heard stress can be a trigger, as wells as an unbalanced diet. I do not know why me contracting the norovirus can cause a full-blown abdominal migraine, but I do know that I experienced such a severe case of hyperemesis gravidarum when I was pregnant, doctors had to insert a PICC line. I’m guessing my body is just in the habit of going into a full cyclical vomiting episode (experiencing emesis every 15 minutes for days on end).

Mornings like the one I had today reminded me of this. I woke up nauseated and terrified. The cold outside did not help. I took a warm bath. I ate something. I cried. Nothing helped until eventually the stomach pain passed. Now I’m writing this. When this is submitted I’ll go about my day posing as a healthy person, taking care of my house and daughter when she gets home. Likely I’ll go buy sanitizer and wipes today in preparation for the cold months to come. This morning was a wake-up call. I’m thankful that’s all it was and I didn’t end up back in the ER. I will be keeping the wipes and sanitizer out and ready these cold months ahead of us in hopes I can go a full winter without seeing an ER doctor.

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