Friday, October 12, 2012

Man Down

Greetings, friends, from 18 23.62 S, 162 36.77 W. We are just starting Day 7 of our Tahiti-to-Tonga run. The winds are dying and poor Papillon is suffering the whack-and-smack of sails that every sailor dreads. But, this morning, I look out upon the ridiculous swell and our unraveling sunbrella with a song in my heart. For I, good people, am once again amongst the living.

We all know that I have trouble with seasickness. (Goodness knows, I haven't kept it a secret.) But normally it is four days of unpleasantness, then I'm back on my feet again. This is why our family likes long passages - as soon as we pass the magic four-day mark, I can actually enjoy myself, help sail, teach school, cook dinner, and be the generally pleasant human being we all know and love.

This passage, I was sick as a dog for six full days.

This is a problem. All of my seasickness coping mechanisms are based on a four-day illness. I cook ahead for four days. I get some little treats and activities ready for the girls for four days. Erik knows he only has to single hand for four days. The entire crew knows that Mom is going to be glued to a bench in the cockpit, head down, eyes closed for four days. Everyone knows the score.

Although they don't really understand it; my prolonged sickness is a bit of a puzzler for the rest of the crew. Indy has never had a seasick moment in her life. Erik confines his illness to inhaling diesel fumes in 16-foot seas. Stylish is the closest to understanding, but she outgrew her (very mild) seasickness about a year ago. To them, seasickness is brief nausea that goes away again. It isn't hot knives carving your eyeballs out from the inside. (Migraine sufferers of the world, my heart goes out to you.)

When Day 5 rolled around and I was still a mess, puzzlement soon turned to irritation. Crisis #1: the fridge was empty. The spaghetti, the stir-fry, the carrot sticks - gone. And while the girls take after my side of the family and could happily subsist on Sao crackers and jam from now until the end of time, Erik cannot. I could blame this on his mother being far too nice to him growing up, or the endless good meals served to him during his working life to allow him to work twenty hours a day. I could, but the truth is, the man just wants a decent meal, and how can I argue with that? I just wish the Good Fairy would show up to cook while I feel rotten.

Reluctantly, ungraciously, I peeled myself off the bench and went down to the galley. As I descended the five steps of the companionway, I transformed from Smeagol to Gollum. During my bad days, I am almost reasonable to talk to while I am in the cockpit lying down. Sitting up makes me cranky. Standing up will certainly generate (unreasonable) complaints against anyone in the vicinity. But sending me downstairs? Look out. I'll kill you as soon as look at you.

During these times, I try very hard to remind myself that I am not processing information normally. That when Erik makes suggestions, such as telling me that he always feels better after he throws up, he is really trying to help, and there are neither grounds nor need for me to tear him a new one. I try to remember, but sometimes it is hard when your brain is telling you that everyone else is an unreasonable jerk, and why can't they just leave me alone to die, gollum?

Day 6 dawned, and things were, if anything, worse. My head felt like someone was energetically scooping out my brains with a rusty spoon. The girls planned a halfway-there party, which meant I had to make a cake. Weep. I managed to make the wrong cake (even though I've made the requested chocolate cake dozens of times). The roast chicken was nearly a similar disaster. Erik, my hero, made potatoes, which, aside from being delicious, were the only things I managed to eat all day.

The girls were a dream. I dug out a package of balloons for them, and they quickly invented a game that kept them shrieking with laughter all afternoon.

When I finally crawled off to bed, I repeated a quiet chant in my head. I feel better. I feel fine. I am going to have a great day. Around and around it went, all through my midnight watch. And whether it helped or not, I woke up this morning feeling relatively human again. Oh, I still won't set foot down below unless I absolutely have to. But I've been out of bed for more than an hour now, have made breakfast, played puppies and help construct two Sailormoon bracelets, and I haven't snapped at anybody yet.

Mom is back in the game.

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Kate said...

Sooooo Glad you are better. I am on the hard but have a terrible flu that is confining me to the sofa. So I feel a little of your pain.

Here's to feeling better. Glad you have that troupe to take care of you.

xxxooo Kate

Anonymous said...

I am feeling your pain & have to say that although I love you dearly I am glad that I am not on the sea with you right now. Two of us being sick would not be pretty. Too bad drugs are not helping you like my migraine mess help me.

We will have to educate train Erik on the " Make your own" method of cooking. Gudie was obviously far too kind.

Love Mom