Emetophobia and pregnancy

I’m really curious about emetophobic women who have children. How did you deal with pregnancy? The fear of possible morning sickness makes me never want to do it!

-Gigi

I’m not sure if this question was directed at only me or others as well, so if there are any of you fellow emetophobics out there who have been pregnant, please feel free to chip in.

Emetophobia made my early weeks of pregnancy pretty tough going and very stressful. I was blessed not to actually be sick (though I think that has more to do with my ‘continence’ in that particular area). The very sight of pasta made me wretch, and the only thing I remember being able to eat is Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter and banana ice cream. In evenings until about 1 or 2 a.m. I felt horrible, I would often cry and sometimes panicking because of how nauseous I felt.

I also had no idea about things that may have helped back then such as ginger, eating little and often (which to be honest I do anyway), acupuncture travel wristbands and so on.

With my medical history it is very unlikely that I’d become pregnant again. I’m not sure how I’d feel about pregnancy if I were in a place where that was a possibility. I know I’d be terrified for the pregnancy and for the labour – especially as I have a lot more knowledge (and more horror stories). I’d also be extremely nervous about how I’d cope with children when they were ill in that way.

I don’t know anyone personally with emetophobia who has gone through pregnancy, but I would be interested to know how they coped too!

Brunette Koala’s Question Time: Emetophobia

Sad to say, you’re stuck with lil ole me again writing on this blog. I realise that people who stumble upon this wee part of cyberspace do so on a search to find out information on emetophobia.

And all because I confessed I freaked out while holding a fork that had coleslaw on it.

However, I can’t fail to notice that more than 2 years on, people are leaving comments on that post relieved that they are not the only ones freaked out by that particularly bodily function.

I potentially waved my emetophobe colours a little early at my first visit to a new smallgroup the other week, when someone confessed they sometimes do that on planes and my response was ‘What?! Do you take travel sickness tablets then?‘ and when they replied ‘No‘, I reacted by loudly proclaiming something along the lines of ‘WHHHY? Argh! Seriously, people who get sick and don’t take tablets should be banned from planes!!!!!

(And I really do think so. I also believe that planes should not fly in terrible weather for the same reason).

I wonder then, if you have questions you’d like answered on the topic of emetophobia.

And I’ll do my best to answer them!

 

Humbled

One of the things that deeply humbles me is when people come out of the woodwork (or blog lurkers rear their heads!) to comment on something I’ve shared that has resonated with them.

I’ve spoken so many times about how I literally just stumbled into this whole blogging thing – it was really just a way of me trying to work out a period of intense change, and to continue sharing my life with a community I’d left behind without really having time to fully explain. From there it evolved – the reflections on my outworking of my faith & beliefs in Yahweh God (as opposed to other gods) and showing to a new community who I was to speed up a process of building a new family support network I knew I would desperately need in Edinburgh. I shared my passions, what was happening but also wanted people to realise that I was flawed. I didn’t want to be put up on any pedestal or pretend to be someone I was not. I showed pretty early on what the people that I have only known me post-university that I actually am blonde at heart with my malteser moments.

I’ve never lived down the Rob Bell NOOMA inspired trolley in the Tesco car park moment. And even I admit that it was pretty funny.

After the fact. (lets be honest in the actual moment I just wanted to be swallowed up into the ground there and then!)

So when I shared a moment that I thought was kinda quirky and funny a couple of years ago, I really did not expect that 2 years on, people would still be coming onto this blog purely because of that one post & what I shared in it.

I really did not intend to intentionally be coming out or taking a stand or ‘going first’ in the same way as I have with other topics such as self harm and abortion.

Emetophobia is one of the things that I just accepted as being part of me, and for my family and close friends – it’s just part of who I am. It’s not treated like a huge deal. We just deal with it.

However, it has now come back into discussion as I’ve started on inter:act. In April, 8 of the team (plus one of our leaders, 3 husbands and a toddler) will be headed out to India. Part of the reason I’m not going is because I wouldn’t be able to take time out of work to go at that time of year – the UK partners meet every April, plus it clashes with commitments to a conference and training sessions I’m running in pregnancy counselling.

But the other part is emetophobia.

India is a place famous for ‘Delhi Belly’. And I don’t know any group of people who have been there and didn’t have people get sick. It is likely that I would get sick (I got sick in South Africa with ‘normal’ and pretty bland food) and I would not want to hinder the team. But it is also because I would be terrified of people being sick with a tummy upset while travelling. Or sharing a room. Or a wall.

I can’t begin to describe the physical terror that comes over me when I think, see or hear someone being sick. I’m pretty good at controlling it now, but my friends will easily recognise the change in my pace, my facial expression. They recognise the body movements when I feel nauseous, and the panic that used to rise or the disengagement as pain would make me wretch.

I can have dreams about it, and the only thing that can help ease back into sleep from the fear of dreaming the same or worse is to whisper the name of Jesus out loud.

So yes. I am humbled. Humbled that sharing something that seems so ridiculous to my logical brain would resonate responses spanning 2 years as people discovered a phobia that they never knew existed. And as people realised….they aren’t the only ones.

There is so much rawness, vulnerability and beautiful community to be found in the world of blogging.

And I’m so glad that an obedience to make a crazy choice in a crazy way took me on a path into such a world.

 

Zophar: Enemy of the Emetophobic

I ran into an unexpected obstacle this week while doing the bible in one year.

Zophar’s rant at Job.

There was so no need for that particular analogy Mr Zophar! Nor to go into such graphic detail.

It actually took me a couple of days before I was able to pick up and continue the daily readings from the book of Job.

I did consider doing what the character of Joey from Friends would do, which is to put my bible in the freezer.

Only I don’t have a freezer.

So I didn’t.

Anyway. I’m caught up now, ready for Day 38 tomorrow.

And I’ve made a note in my journal to make sure I skip Job Chapter 20 if I’m ever headed in that particular direction of God’s Word again, and any other folks who have emetophobia & are thinking of reading the bible may want to do the same. And also avoid the pilot episode of NCIS too.

Struck down by love

Well, it’s 1.30 a.m., I have to leave the house in 7 hours to get to a music practice, so of course tonight would be an ‘insomnia’ one! I like to consider it my inner student who is like ‘hello?! it’s Saturday night! You should be partying the night away right now

Anyway, it’s a lil bit irritating because I’m so excited for tomorrow and I want to be awake and ready for it!! There’s music practice, more Pete Greig (praying he doesn’t repeat one of the anecdotes he shared with us at Powerpoint on Friday night…lets just say for my emetophobic readers…you wouldn’t want to hear it!), then a smallgroup reunion (hurrah! and yes BOTJ I made pasta stuff, not sure if it’s turned out ok though…) and then…….I’m going to meet the sorta monster sized newborn that is BumpTwo (gotta come up with a better nickname!).

Basically I’m going to get baby cuddles (and hopefully some Elastatoddler cuddles too) in exchange for some of my homemade cupcakes. Oh yeah.

So in honour of this future meeting, here we have another video from Central Christian Church on the subject of love…mainly showing this one today because well…yeah, the older guy and the baby? That’ll be me tomorrow. :)

A surprisingly popular post?

So you might notice that on my sidebar I have the most popularly read posts of each day.

Pretty much every week since May, a post entitled ‘Confessions of an Emetophobic‘ has been on that list.

If you look at my blog stats, almost every day people searching for information about that particular phobia find my blog because of that post.

I’ve also noticed since writing that post (and no doubt my constant posts and requests for prayer that no one would puke on the planes to/from South Africa!) a number of blog friends have been ‘looking out’ for me when they are writing about things relating to the ‘P’ word.

When I wrote that post, I honestly was writing it for people to have a giggle, because I do realise that my behaviours relating to my fear of that are kinda hilarious, ridiculous and bordering on the psychotic. I mean it’s not funny at the time, but it is to look back on!

So I’m really surprised at the response that single post has gotten from a number of people outside of the ‘usual’ LFS readers that have commented and I think one person even e-mailed me about. I find that totally surreal. I honestly had no intention of making a statement about emetophobia, and also had no idea there were others with this phobia.

A few people have asked me how I coped with being pregnant having emetophobia, others have asked how I deal with working in a pregnancy crisis centre having emetophobia, and a few people are wondering how I can love so many medical dramas having emetophobia…

My friends and family could share some stories certainly. Whether I share them here, I’m not sure.

What have I started?

Patience

I’m not very good at the whole patience thing.

But God seems to be really testing my faith, my trust, my patience lately.

My passport still hasn’t come through. I’m meant to be leaving for South Africa in 2 weeks. Just a wee bit concerned and fighting the urge not to hunt down every staff member who works for the UK Passport Office and torture them until they give me a passport. Last week I sent my 4th set of passport photos to them.

The situation with the pregnancy crisis centre. Job security not great right now. Lots of stress. I came home and took a bit of time off to eat some pasta and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls and I’ve been working pretty much full on since then updating our new facebook page, collating information and mailing lists and looking into new ways of fundraising we’ve not tried before.

Got an emergency trustee meeting tomorrow night to discuss where we go from here. I’m gonna miss smallgroup! :(

I now know the Practice Nurses on first name terms at my GP surgery as I’ve seen them 4 times in the last month. I went down to get my vaccine (the 2nd of 3 Hep A & B vaccines) Monday and Friday last week but wasn’t allowed because of the rather gross and very colourful stuff that seems to be coming out my nose since I got back from NAWA. I accidentally went today only to realise that I’d read my diary wrong and actually my appointment is tomorrow morning.

Oops.

I’ve put so much of myself into my work, into getting prepared for this trip to South Africa (hey, it only took me like 2 whole years to work up the courage to actually go…) so I’m trying really hard to stay positive and believe everything’s going to work out fine. Honestly I am.

And yes. I’m still worried that someone might puke on the plane. Or that I might get sick on the plane. I’ve actually started having nightmares about the whole thing.

I just don’t seem to be managing to achieve that particular ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ goal.

Ok. the silver lining…or more the small things in life that cheer me up and keep me going…

I got a new bag to use as hand luggage last weekend. I LOVE IT. On Saturday night I took it to my friend’s birthday barbecue and I easily fitted into it

1. Birthday Cake (featuring The Stig)

2. One bottle of Passoa

3. 2 bags of Kettle Chips

4. All the usual junk I carry round with me (purse, mobile phone, antibacterial gel, lip butter, paracetamol, a supply of clean tissues, my wee make up compact I carry with me but can never be bothered to use)

…and it still had space in it for more!

It also came in handy on Sunday morning for carrying lunch and a box of tissues I had to buy between the church service and church meeting. Amazing!

I can’t wait to start packing for going away (I LOVE packing…yeah, I know some will find that strange).

Me and God though – not on the best of speaking terms at the moment. I mean, we’re speaking, but I’m in a bit of a mood with him right now. Need to get that sorted…!

Confessions of an Emetophobic

So just in case you didn’t already have evidence that I’m completely off my trolley, here’s some more. Was chatting with my smallgroup about Monday night’s beta carotene and coleslaw incident.

picture-31

It all started when I came home from work, and my Mum said ‘Oh, we’re having salmon and salad for tea, would you like some?’ I was all ‘yeah, that would be lovely, thanks!’

But for some weird and unknown reason she decided to put coleslaw on my plate. Wretching and trying not to run away screaming…I grabbed the plate and tried to tip the coleslaw and anything on the plate that the coleslaw had infected with its coleslawyness (totally a word btw!)  I suddenly realised I was left holding a fork covered in coleslaw. Hence the shriek of ‘Ewwwwww!!!!!!’ and the launch of said fork across the room.

A bit OTT? Yup, I know. But when it comes to all things relating to my emetophobia, rational is not a word to describe my actions. Reading this some time last year was scarily liking looking at my own reflection in a mirror.

It made me take pause to reflect on some of my weird habits which are perhaps either subconsciously or consciously emetophobia-related.

1. Fear of Coleslaw and most things based in Mayonnaise (egg mayonnaise and tuna mayonnaise especially)… I can’t look at it, and I struggle to watch anyone eat it, and I certainly cannot clean any kitchenware that has contained such things. 

2. Even though I’ve never been travel sick on a plane I take travel sickness tablets, just in case.

3. I never get a night bus in case a drunken person gets on and well, you know….

4. I never eat food past it’s sell by date or if it’s been open longer than the time allowed by the ‘please consume x days after opening’ (I label food with the date I open it for this reason).

5. If I’ve ever eaten food you’ve prepared, feel privileged. Between my obsessing over sell by dates, various other food hygiene stuff and various food allergies/intolerances I find it difficult to eat food I’ve not had full control in preparing and checking. 

6. I will never go on a ferry or boat on open water unless it’s really calm and the journey is extremely short. It took a lot of convincing from my Mum and various ferry terminal staff to get on the Staten Island Ferry. 

7. If I remotely think someone is looking like they might, or I hear or see someone…you know….my only goal is to run until I can’t hear or see anything. Possibly accompanied by some screaming.

8. If that person is me, I’ll be freaking out. Hyperventilating. Crying. Praying. Climbing the walls. Fainting. Doing anything and everything I can think of to try and prevent the inevitable from happening. 

9. If a new film comes out and I’m going to see it, I try and track down people who’ve seen it before me to find out if there are any scenes I won’t be able to face watching. 

10. Just in case I need to run out the cinema because an unexpected scene comes up, I will want to sit in the aisle seat for a quick and easy getaway. Like when I went to see Apollo 13, and didn’t come back into the cinema for about 30 mins. 

11. I will never, ever eat so much that I feel full, because the feeling of nausea terrifies me.

12. I can’t stand being a carnivals because of all the rides that make people feel sick. 

13. I won’t undergo medical treatments that have a likelihood of having being sick as a side effect. 

14. I carry around antibacterial gel and if I have to use a public bathroom I often only touch the door handle with the sleeve of what I’m wearing so I don’t ‘catch’ any nasty bugs.

15. Waiting rooms in hospitals or GP surgeries are difficult for me as I’m terrified of someone coming in with a bug or me catching a bug from someone in the waiting room.

16. If I’m travelling somewhere, I’ll be the one to drive. But sometimes I have to close my eyes if I see a car pulled over…just in case I see something I don’t want to see.

17. I won’t ever ride in a coach for the same reason I won’t go on a ferry.

18. I have been known to move out the house if anyone has a stomach bug of any kind, and open lots of windows, use lots of bleach etc. You just can’t be too careful!

 

My family and close friends are perfectly used to my strange emetophobic habits. None of my friends (even when ill or drunk) have ever ….. in front of me for which I’m very appreciative. They’ve also totally helped me out countless times in helping me avoid or cope with unexpected ‘incidents’ – they are so very understanding!

So there you have it. More insight into the crazy world of BK’s bizarre brain.

Please be careful in your commenting.

Abduction & Anxieties relating to the ‘P’ word

I’ve abducted my Mum’s laptop as have had to take residence on the sofa so I’m downstairs.

I really don’t like being off work. Or being stuck in the house against my will (why is that when you have choice to do something it’s fine, but if that same thing is forced upon you it feels unbearable?) Spirits are low, but I do know things will be better in a few days. I’m hoping that this will be the last time I feel like this for a very long time.

On Monday Love out Loud fortnight begins. I’m hoping as the good ol’ painkillers kick in and take effect I’ll be able to get  a list of random acts of kindness for each day right up until April 13th at least! These will be posted on Art of Joy Twitter feed each day. I will be using some of the great ideas some of you have given me. Thank you!!

I have had one discovery of encouragement that will sound strange though, apparently I’m less likely to need pain medication in childbirth because I’m so used to the pain. I’m all for using pain relief in childbirth, only if I ever was in a giving birth situation I confess that I’m terrified about being given…

1. Entonox (gas and air) because it can make you throw up

2. Morphine because it can make you throw up

3. A caeserian section, because afterwards they give you morphine and yes, you might throw up.

Is it any wonder people are FOREVER telling me I should get prayer for this ridiculous phobia I have? Lol. We were actually asked to voice out some of our fears about going to South Africa on Saturday afternoon. Some people sounded very spiritual about the whole thing, and then there were others like me who have fears like missing their connecting flights and so on. I confessed to the 270 people there that my biggest fear is that someone will throw up on the plane. I did get a very strange look from Mike P. until I explained that people puking freaks me out and if it happens when you’re flying in a plane, well, I can’t get off the plane can I?!

Yes, everyone did laugh at me as he said ‘well, no, I wouldn’t advise trying to get off the plane if that happens’. Thankfully I do see the funny side to it too.

So while most other people are afraid about not being transformed by God, or disobeying God or feeling numb when they see things that would break God and other people’s hearts….I’m afraid someone will puke on the plane. I’m not even afraid about the plane crashing! In my bizarre-o mind I know I’d rather die in a puke free plane crash than be sitting near someone who has to use a sick bag.

And I mean that in all seriousness, even though I know how ridiculous that probably sounds to you.

Love Lessons

As many of you probably know, I came back to Edinburgh a couple of months ago after a 6 year exile in Aberdeen. I went back to work at a familiar place where my job is to support adults with learning disabilities. Those of you who know me now, will see this as normal, but those of you who have known me longer will know how shocking it was that I went into this job.

Returning to this particular workplace has been difficult for a variety of reasons, but over the last few shifts God has reminded me what we (the staff) are there for. And God has reminded me of the gift he gave me to help get me through that first summer working as a Support Assistant 3 years ago….love

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has God living inside, and that person lives in God. And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. This is how love is made perfect in us: that we can be without fear on the day God judges us, because in this world we are like him. Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears”

1 John 3: 15-18

I remember re-reading those verses which for some reason I have marked in my NCV Youth Bible as being given to me at a YF service at Gerrard Street Baptist in March 2004.

Certain phrases jump out me – ‘we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love’ – ‘where God’s love is, there is no fear’ – ‘love drives our fear’ – ‘live in love’ – ‘God lives in them’.

These verses are so real to me because I know how true this is. There used to be a client who had epilepsy and quadraplegia. This client liked to throw up their medication, and I really can’t deal with vomit. I’m terrified of vomit and freak out if I feel sick, anyone near me feels sick, if someone gags or chokes I make a sprint in the opposite direction. One night, it was just me and a manager, Jamie on shift and we got a phone call – this client needed to come in for emergency respite care. I fell apart – I was terrified because I knew I would be on my own taking care of this client who would quite possibly throw up on me. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. And I remember Jamie praying with me, and encouraging me – I could do this – with God’s help I could do this.

I was actually shaking as I came into their room. And all of a sudden, God spoke to me – “Laura Anne, I need you to love this person like I love them – they are precious to me, and so they should be precious to you”. All of a sudden my fear was taken away, and I saw this client the way God saw this client. I began to see how she had a relationship with God despite the fact she had no way of communicating any of this to me. I changed her, washed her, fed her, and gave her medication. I prayed over her, and told her how much God loved her. The peace in the room was astounding. And it all stemmed from love. Now, every time I’m in a similar situation with a client and I’m finding it difficult to care for them, I pray for God’s grace, and for God to help me to love them the way he does.

I try to do the same in the rest of my life too. Suddenly no one is an evangelism project – I just love them the way God does – it helps so much in the battle I think most Christians have with being judgemental yet living in worship to God not conforming to the sinful ways of the world we live in.

Love – it’s a powerful thing.