My husband is downstairs watching Band of Brothers, Season 25, Episode 36,000,000 of men shooting and shouting at one another, blankets tossed aside as his fever breaks finally from the flu that snuck up on him this morning. I don’t find this at all relaxing, the profanity and underlying violence of the voices making me flinch as I check his temperature, but perhaps we are both just punchier than usual from lack of sleep. Last night, in the midst of a dream about penguins finding their way home, the sound of 4 sharp bangs dragged me from visions of Antarctica.
“What was that noise?” I whispered to my husband, immediately awake and frightened.
“What, what? What noise?”
Four more bangs in quick succession followed.
“That noise!” I said urgently, nearly pushing him out of bed. He stumbled out into the hallway, coming back within a few seconds, as I was putting on my robe. In the darkness, I am less blind than usual, knowing the layout of my own bedroom, but somehow I missed my middle daughter making her way towards our bathroom. She had been the one banging on her own door to signal the end of her vomiting in her doorway and her need for assistance, as her own bathroom was missing not only the toilet, but a working sink as we are in the midst of removing the 80’s funk which permeates our entire bought-in-a-foreclosure home.
I was not great at physics though I was blessed with great teachers and professors. Physics is a fun science full of demonstrations, and on tests and homework, I had little difficulty, completing calculations and solving equations so long as I stuck to rote memorization. In real life, however, during physics lab when those principles had to be played out in real time with gravity at work, I usually failed miserably at predicting how the world actually works.
Last night, however, a real-world situation presented itself and I immediately was able to write a new axiom, and though it is based on a single observational study, I offer it up as a truth that I would recommend to anyone as worthy of remembering. I am calling it The Inverse Law of Bathrooms and Nighttime Vomiting also known as the ILBNV (pretty catchy, right?).
The person farthest from the closest working bathroom will be the most likely to have an episode of nighttime vomiting, and also most likely to expel the entire contents of their dinner the farthest distance in the shortest amount of time.
Splitting duties, I took care of cleaning up the daughter, who apparently upon evacuating the contents of her stomach immediately felt better. My husband, bless his heart, cleaned up much of the mess, electing at 3 am to finish the rest in the morning. I describe my 2 youngest children as one who never stops talking, and one who never stops moving. Having realized quickly that ILBNV was now in play, I moved her downstairs to be nearer to the bathroom. Once she was tucked in, and after climbing into bed with her, however, she could not wait to begin describing to me in great detail exactly how terrible vomiting feels, smells and sounds. By the time she finally fell asleep, I was lying in bed wondering if the twinges in my stomach were my imagination prompted by her vivid descriptions, or actually the beginnings of an exception to the ILBNV. Thankfully, the axiom held true, and I awoke at 6:30 am to find my husband groping his way one-eyed towards the coffee-maker.
On days like this with just a few hours of sleep, knowing I’m facing getting the kids off to school on time, followed by a full load of patients, then Girl Scouts and piano lessons, then dinner, homework, bedtime and clean-up, I try to remind myself that I once couldn’t wait to be a grown-up. Most of the time, it works, and I’m grateful to be living the dream as they say. Having now penned the ILBNV and with my place in physics history now secure, I’m thinking about quitting my day job, once I find where I put those bonbons I’ve been hoarding. I’ll look for them just as soon as I finish cleaning up the rest of the mess from last night, as the husband is now in no shape to be scrubbing carpets or walls. It’s a glamorous life, but someone has to do it.
Today I am grateful for stomach bugs that last only 24 hours, a good sense of humor, and bonbons in all forms!