Hello again, savages, Mikayla here. Matthew’s been busy getting ready for the second Tincture book to begin (June 3rd – tincturestory.com), so he’s been super lazy here at the Irregular. To showcase this, the following is an excerpt from that book of essays he wrote back in 2011, you know, the one he slapped together and told nobody about? The one he’s entirely embarrassed by? That one. It’s still available, for whatever reason, at Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle, so enjoy the first thousand or so words from chapter 1. It’s not, like, even the whole goddamn chapter! He reads part and then it just… ugh… Maybe he’s trying to sell it again. I don’t know. Maybe out of the six or seven of you who read this stuff, one will go buy it. It’s like, two bucks I think. I’m looking at you, Jeff. You too, Steve.
Shortly before our move to Colorado, right after my wife and I returned from Ireland, I had the mistakenly bold notion to relax. I was already in sweatpants and more than ready—my movie, my bottle of wine and my sandwich laid around me like a Chinese burial offering. I imagine now the food looking at me, given life by some strange hallucination, its bread mouth and bacon tongue sloppily groaning.
“Something is missing Matthew, something… will you… will you make me whole?”
“Yes, talking sandwich,” I replied in my thoughts, “I shall do as you ask.”
Cue a dramatic fridge opening, followed by a careless dumping of jalapeño peppers into the sandwich—probably enough to make tear gas. Now I know what you’re thinking.
“Why would a human being mix spicy food and alcohol—and presume to live?”
Well, I used to have an iron stomach, one of those guys you know who could digest a damned soda can just for the twenty bucks and the blood in the toilet. Somewhere in my lineage, back deep, I’m certain we’ll find tribal blacksmiths with bellies full of horse meat, cooling iron with hearty swallows. On this night, however, my stomach, after performing years and years of service to its merciless king, decided the gates were to be stormed. While its armies corralled the troops, I ate my sandwich, drank my wine, watched my movie, and farted my farts—deaf to the protests.
At around 10:30 PM, I awoke as the signals to my brain pinged louder and louder—we have a solid red light here, something was very amiss in my nether regions. I felt nauseated and I couldn’t find a comfortable position to lay in, everything was getting shifty. Cut to the next scene, and I was doubled over the toilet, begging for the ability to barf up my own stomach lining in order to wipe it clean like a frog. It was a mixture of extreme nausea, abdominal pain, discomfort, and just a sprinkling of living hell.
My wife never has much patience for anything that disrupts her regimented sleep schedule, so this was no marital treat. As I pray to all gods and even a few new invented ones in a tongue I’d conjured right there in the bathroom, she’s sitting in one of our living room chairs with glazed eyes, half watching Mythbusters and half watching me writhe in contorted pain on the floor.
“No, you don’t need to go to the emergency room,” she continuously answers me over the groaning.
Eventually she returns to bed to leave me to my own misery—if I’m still alive in the morning, she figures, we can assess things then—otherwise we can harvest my corpse for fatty winter-time meats and lantern fuel.
We had no Pepto Bismal, anti-gas pills, nor any manner of soothing tea in the house—it was getting dark, and I was going to have to run this thing out the hard way. After remembering exactly what I had consumed that evening, (the wine and the tear gas hot peppers) I made an executive decision.
I hadn’t actually vomited since I was nine years old, (see the earlier paragraph about Nordic blacksmiths). On this particular night I still couldn’t make the greasy yawn, so I decided to invoke the powers of teenage girls everywhere, and get down with getting pretty.
I put my finger in my throat, and on first attempt I gagged, my eyes started to water up—the frightening reality of having something activate this reflex made me feel like stomping my feet and crying out for an adult. Attempt three was the magic one, and I subsequently filled the toilet with pink debris. Out came glasses of red wine, full jalapeño slices, a hundred black crows and other miscellany that had been begging me for release. There was my meal, right there all over the throne, a fetid pattern of misguided intestinal abuse. It was all recognizable though, like someone had just taken a perfectly good meal, stomped on it, and threw it in the toilet. I felt better for roughly three minutes, then I got even prettier.
I did this several times over the course of the night, with roughly twelve heaves to be precise, until I was convinced it was all out, no regard for any organs that may have been caught up in the waves. Then, I spent each second of the remaining twilight praying for sleep, unable to slip into that wonderful slumber, as every fathomable position rendered more pain and discomfort—and let’s not forget—the urge to have a chunky laugh at the toilet bowl if I accidentally wiggled four toes instead of three.
All night this terrible thing lasted.
As the nightmare drifted into day number two, my stomach decided to quiet itself enough for the worst headache I’ve ever experienced to take hold. It was so bad that if I moved my eyes sharp lightning bolts arched from my nose to my stomach causing even more nausea.
No sleep, couldn’t sleep.
The humours were evil this night.
A week before my wedding reception, the disaster wound up taking me three days, a massive headache, and a fiery bout of the trots to recover fully. What was it? At the time, I simply chalked it up to food poisoning—I heard that happens to people sometimes. Ah, just good old fashioned food poisoning, which meant that the peppers and wine eventually continued. I had just experienced the worst night of my life, to date, and a week later I was laughing at fate by doing it all over again. It was this horrible helpless feeling that I never thought, in a million years, could be because of the massive amounts of stress and obsessing about freelancing—and how to pay the bills doing so—all eating away at my stomach as though it were lined with delicious, delicious fear.
The stresses of life continued, as they do, well into our move to Colorado a few weeks later. After a few more of what I’ve come to defensively refer to as “attacks,” (nausea and stomach pain that lasts for hours and hours) I slowly came to realize something was seriously wrong with the unit in my abdomen that converts food into the reason we have candles in the bathroom.
The hunt for knowledge begins, and we found a small family practice not too far from our apartment and decided it was time to take me in to see what’s what. After pretending to listen to what I had to say, making eye contact zero times and charging me two hundred dollars for the visit, the paunchy doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist, or a GI doctor, that specializes in things that go wrong with your guts. He did the same ol’ doctor song and dance, pretending to listen to me before cutting me off and prescribing a few medications that did nothing but make the problem worse. In a matter of months I was down to eating only oatmeal, bread, and other things of the bland variety just to get through the day, finishing an entire bottle of Pepto Bismal in less than seventy two hours. It didn’t help that my wife’s gal bladder had also decided to revolt, causing me more and more stress as the medical bills piled on top of each other, forming a giant pyramid of debt that snuck into our bedroom each night to punch me in the stomach and urinate on my pillow, whispering terrible things about interest rates and minimum payments.
I visited the doctor many times and was subjected to a variety of tests, each one more humiliating and frustrating than the last. First it was blood draws—several of them—to determine if I had food poisoning, a something something deficiency, or perhaps ulcers.
Not a damn thing.
All tests came back saying that I’m healthy and simply making this stuff up because I like giving doctors spare money for coke. After the blood draws came the fecal matter test.
You read that correctly—they wanted to analyze my chocolate hotdogs to see if the answer to my stomach problems was hidden inside like a little poopy treasure.
I was given a shopping bag full of miscellany during one visit to the doctor that contained scary white plastic objects I was certain were designed to humiliate me. I took it all home, dove into the bag, and made a pact with myself to never tell anybody that this had ever happened… so much for that. I removed a large white plastic bowl, shaped to fit over the toilet so you can do your business, put it over the porcelain throne as instructed, and got ready to make an album.
Music in this episode:
Image thanks to the gallery of Ephemeral Scraps.