I loathe vomiting.
When a stomach bug attacks, I will remain in the fetal position for days with agonizing nausea rather than just getting it over with and throwing up. I’ve always been this way. Had I been one of those pregnant women with constant morning sickness, there would likely be three less children in the world.
Nearly all of September, I endured constant nausea, vertigo, and vomiting. My entire world became the twelve steps from my bed to my toilet, and the return trip often required a pause midway. We aren’t sure if these symptoms were a result of my horrid headache —I have a history of vomiting when pain heightens –or if it was just another side effect of my aggressive antibiotic treatment. Either way, I was miserable.
One of those beautiful fall mornings, I woke feeling usual queasiness and significant pain. I messaged a friend to cancel plans yet again and asked her to remember me in her prayers. She asked what she should specifically pray for, and I quickly responded. I need God to ease the nausea. I can handle mind-numbing pain over continuous sea sickness any day.
Around 2:00 that afternoon, I pulled my hair back in a ponytail, grabbed a receptacle, and forced my aching body to drive the 35 minutes into town to pick up my daughters. I’d already vomited once, so I rationalized that I could probably make it there and back before requiring my bathroom again.
Boy, was I wrong. The more I drove, the sicker I became. The more I moved, the more the world spun. I knew I wasn’t going to make it, so I frantically pulled into a BFS gas station and dashed to the restroom.
Let me tell you. As awful as it is to be sick in your own home, it is infinitely worse to vomit into a public toilet. I had no choice. My body seized and heaved until I was beyond exhausted, sitting on the cold, sticky tile, knees up and head bent. Tears rolled down my cheeks, another automatic effect of vomiting. I couldn’t move. I was too tired, and I wasn’t sure if my body was finished betraying me.
I pulled my cell phone from my sweatshirt pocket and attempted to distract myself until the symptoms were tolerable. No texts. No messages. Just one email. I began reading.
Just a short note to let you know how very special you are. I am so thankful that you are in my life and that I am getting to share in your life with your sweet children. My prayer is that God will touch you right now and give you strength and a reprieve from the pain AND an overwhelming sense of peace in knowing that you are being used to share His glory with all those that know you.
My mouth filled with a familiar wetness as my stomach churned. I thrust the phone back into my pocket, moved from my bottom onto my knees, and once again retched into the public toilet.
Too spent to move, I rested my head on my arm and concentrated on breathing. I longed for the overwhelming sense of peace my friend had prayed for. But what were her exact words? Still caressing the toilet, I retrieved my phone and reread the email. An overwhelming sense of peace in knowing that you are being used to share His glory….
As I lifted my head, I thought there is NOTHING glorious about THIS. Poop splatters were visible on the back ring on the toilet. Splatters, mind you, that were not mine. The stickiness of the floor, again, not a result of me. The hundreds of germs I pictured under a black light were in no way glorious. This part of my story cannot possibly share God’s glory with all those who know me. I managed to chuckle a bit at the horrible timing of this sweet prayer from such a well-meaning friend.
It took about twenty minutes to pull myself together and get to my daughters’ school. I pulled into the parking lot, reclined my seat to ease my headache, and called my husband. Tears of frustration, pain, and exhaustion poured. We contacted my doctor and he called in several different nausea medications with the hope that something would work.
(As a side note, often Lyme sufferers lose the ability to feel any relief from medication. I have potent prescriptions for pain, nausea, sleeping aids, etc.; yet, nothing affects me. The strongest sleeping aid doesn’t even make me drowsy. Morphine might as well be an M&M. This is why I rarely take medication. It’s pointless.)
My husband retrieved my daughters from their school. We decided to divide and conquer. The girls and I would head home slowly while he went to the pharmacy to pick up the new medications, which I hoped beyond hope would somehow help this time. If the nausea or pain became too intense, I agreed to pull over and wait for him.
I encouraged the girls to tell me all about their day as we made our way back to the safety of my bed. Gracie realized that if she kept talking, it distracted me from the nausea and pain. So she chattered and chattered. When she’d exhausted all the actual academic topics, I learned which girls like which boys in her class. She speculated on whether or not her teacher dyes her hair because “it’s beautiful and never has a single grey strand, Momma, and you have lots.” We discussed a book I was currently listening to, which led to an important discussion about refugees and our responsibility as children of God to help them. This reminded me of the email I’d received that day. So I told Gracie all about my rough drive in, my time in the gas station bathroom, and the kind albeit ill-timed email.
“Isn’t that funny?” I said. “There is nothing glorious about puking, especially in a public restroom.”
Without missing a beat, Gracie said, “Well, they do call it The Throne.”
Have I mentioned how much I love that girl?
We pulled into our driveway, and as I walked up the sidewalk, I suddenly became aware that my body felt different. I was still tired and achy, but the nausea was gone. Completely absent. My husband arrived home 15 minutes later. I was already tucked safely in bed when he entered the room, ready to dispense whichever nausea medication I wanted to try first.
I smiled. I didn’t need any medication because the relentless nausea that had plagued me for three weeks had disappeared. That beautiful prayer had been heard and answered in God’s time. It was only 6:00 in the evening, but I was so tired I couldn’t help drifting off into the deepest sleep I’d had in months. I slept for almost three days, waking only long enough to use the restroom and kiss my children good morning and good night. Peace had found me.
It trickled into my life on the sticky bathroom floor. It took hold when my daughter and I giggled over the glorious throne. And it filled and sustained me for three days while I slept and my body recovered.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body…” –Proverbs 14:30
What a gift I received in that powerful prayer.