Crawl into bed. Lie there, feeling the discomfort mount. Are you awake? I ask Ryan. No response. A shift in my bowels, and I cross the hall to the bathroom posthaste. I am no stranger to diarrhea. I have a fast metabolism. Food tends not to stick around in my body for very long. Takes what it needs and moves on.
Back in bed, I realize that something is not right with my body, in that abstract way one becomes aware of these things. Ryan is now awake. Impossible not to be, considering what has just happened in the bathroom. We have a small house. Do you feel okay? I ask him. Yep, he answers. One hundred percent. I feel like throwing up, I tell him.
Not Easter dinner food poisoning, then. I think back to the previous evening's dinner: sushi in Toronto. Probably the best sushi I have eaten. You wouldn't do this to me, would you, sushi? We've been pretty good pals until now. And why would you wait so long to attack?
While I wonder these things, I realize that my salivary glands are working overtime. Ah fuck, no, I think. No no no. Concentrate. Don't puke don't puke don't puke. I am no stranger to vomit, either. I know the signs. My stomach cramps (Jesus this hurts) and off I head across the hall to the bathroom. The faint aroma of baby shit lingers in the bowl, makes it impossible to contain the rush of vomit. I wrap my knees around the cool porcelain and my stomach heaves its contents into the bowl, greenish-yellow, bits of undigested romaine lettuce floating in the muck. My eyes water, my nose runs. And, interestingly, my bowels release a squirt of shit into my pajama bottoms. This is a new turn of events. I feel a little better, though, and remove my pants, wipe the shit from them, toss them into the laundry basket, put a new pair on. Rinse my mouth, brush my teeth, head back to bed.
But not for long.
This time when the cramps come, they come with a vengeance. I sprint to the bathroom, heave my body over the toilet, splash a hot sour rush of puke into the bowl as my rectum contracts and sprays shit into my fresh pajama bottoms. I half-stand, step out of my pjs, still vomiting, diarrhea running onto the floor. I don't know how to handle this. I have not had the opportunity to develop a strategy for this particular brand of illness, having never experienced it before. In the past, the toilet has been my puke receptacle. What does one do when one needs this same receptacle for watery orange fecal matter? I decide that for the moment it doesn't matter. Fuck the shit on the floor. Just get it all out. Tears stream down my face. I sob as I puke and shit.
When this bout subsides and I feel marginally better, I clean up the bathroom, wipe the vomit from the toilet seat, the shit from the tile floor. There is shit on my thighs, my feet. I run some water into the bathtub and clean myself up. Dig a pair of panties from my drawer. I am out of pajama bottoms. Curl up in bed in the fetal position, whimpering, shivering. (I am afraid that I was rather cruel to my cat, who just wanted to snuggle. I shoved her, kicked her off the bed. She has a habit of walking across my stomach, curling up on my thighs. Not tonight, kitten, sorry.)
The pain in my gut is unreal. It's not over. But at least I have a plan. The next time my insides contract and I rush to the bathroom, I shove aside the shower curtain, sit down sideways on the toilet, arms crossed on the ledge of the tub, head hanging over. Thank god for small bathrooms. The troll in my belly is angry, wants out, the force of this vomit is going to rip me apart, I make horrifying deep guttural noises and spit out clots of opaque yellow bile that collect and creep toward the drain like horror movie blood. While I fight the troll, watery shit gushes out of my ass into the toilet. I hope that there is enough room back there, that I'm not spraying shit all over the side of the vanity.
With an established system in place, I spend the rest of the night repeating the above, ad nauseum (pun intended). Sometimes I just shit, sometimes I just vomit up that awful thick bile, sometimes I do both together. Between expulsions, I moan and shiver. No, not again, I protest. No no no, I don't want to do this anymore. The pain is excruciating. I am weak and exhausted.
Should we go to the hospital? Ryan asks. (He has to be in court early in the morning, and I feel distantly apologetic, but my body's needs trump any other concern.) No, I say. I can't. So he calls Telehealth Ontario, asks me a bunch of questions via the nurse on the other end of the line. Since things appear to be slowing down, we decide to wait and see what happens. Eventually, I somehow manage to fall asleep, with only minor interruptions, for the rest of the night. There is nothing left to expel, but still my body finds things to rid itself of. In bed, I place my hands gently on my stomach, comforting the troll, who eventually falls asleep himself.