Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Getting Bitch-Slapped By The World" or "Don't Get Cocky, Kid"

Hello Friends:

Fair warning, this is a pretty 'triggering' post for those with sickness related OCDs, hypochondria, fear of V*, and such. I'm not sick, myself, but witnessed it and it has me pretty rattled. So if you don't want to read my somewhat graphic rant, you better stop right now.

The end of the cruise went great. No serious problems, and then we even found a half day excursion around Puerto Rico to fill in time before going to the airport. I was liberally patting myself on the back for making it through all the hard parts while only freaking out a few times during the entire week.

Never, never say that.

I was doing a good job of keeping my mind off of the upcoming flight. But eventually we got to the airport, and through aggie inspection (called USDA of course, but that just makes me think they are scanning for steak). And then into the excruciatingly but not totally unexpectedly long line to get through security.

I have a very tough time with lines. People get antsy. Stand too close to me. Fail to control their children. Cough or sneeze on me. Try to jump in front. You name it. A lot of people simply don't leave enough time to deal with airport issues. This is San Juan airport, not someplace really on the ball. You have to expect you can run into an hour long line. I didn't want to, but there it was. Not surprisingly, after an already stressful week, I was totally on edge. Shaking, rocking, and working hard not to dissociate. As the hour wore on, it got hotter in the line, and tougher to stay mentally present. But I kept it together, if only just, until we got into the area that was roped like Disneyland. Normally, I don't like the roped off lines, but at least they do let you know exactly where to go and do stop the line jumpers, for the most part. If you don't mind the trapped feeling ....

Now what is it that makes someone sick, and I mean really sick, try to fly? Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to be worth not only the risk to your health, but that of everyone around you. These people are morons. Did they get the whole flu season and H1N1 epidemic news? Do they enjoy endangering other people? I suppose I should say I have sympathy for the sick person who is sick and all that, but I don't have any sympathy for needlessly being put in a position where I'll be in OCD hell for the next two weeks, waiting to come down with the incredible wretched crud that had infected the woman two people away from me.

Because right there in line - three people away from the boarding pass screening - she puked all over the floor. You know that sound of that splatter? She had barely bent, and so it cascaded everywhere. People were bolting. We were forced against the ropes as far as we could get from her, but couldn't get out of line.

After about two seconds I dissociated almost completely. Feeling terrified and numb, staring around and seeing almost nothing. Except hyper sensitive to this new, horrifying contagious threat. Of course I have no idea if she had anything catching, or simply couldn't hold on to her hamburgers. Or whatever.

But she didn't stop. One puke. Then two.  And then she stood there. And then puked some more. And would you calmly be standing in line casually puking your guts out, showering the nearby patrons with viruses? She didn't try to leave the line or run for a restroom or anything. Just stood there and puked yet a fourth time. By then, my spouse and I had made it around the situation, more or less, and gotten to the main entrance to the security screening. I was so out of it I had tunnel vision, was shaking, and could only fixate on one thing at a time. All I could think of was that statistically speaking, I and my luggage were now covered in micro-droplets of God only knew what. Simple food poisoning? Bird Flu? Who even f*cking knows.

I was too far gone to hear the exchange behind me, and only put it together from conversation with spouse afterward. Believe it or not, puker and her SO were going to try to get in line behind me and spouse to go through scanning. My spouse blocked them and said, 'No'. And she tried two more times, and he simply pointed to the other line, 'You go there. You will not go here.'

Fortunately by then the idiots at San Juan airport stepped in and put puker and SO through a special line. But I can't believe they let them through security at all. There was a woman on a flight to Hawaii taken off just because the crew had an idea she might be sick. And there this woman threw up four times in line, and they let her through security. I do not f*cking get it.

So not only did I get to fly for 4.5 hours with possibly puked on shoes, I got to spend that time doing every cognitive trick in the book trying to get myself to keep from having a full blown panic attack. And trying to reassociate my mind and body so I wouldn't build up any more new trauma from this than necessary.

And now here I am. Finally, finally at home. But scarred. I'm scared. The world is so scary. Everyone on the plane was coughing and sneezing and I'd been nearly barfed on. Probably had been in a microscopic fashion. It'll be two weeks before I can be sure I didn't pick anything up from that unbelievable episode. And it might be a lot longer than that before the terrible backlash from this finally works its way through depressive rebound and all the rest.

I'm throwing out my suitcase.  By the way.

Any advice?  Kind words?  Whatever ... I could use it.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

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BeatOCD Blogger said...

Oh.My.God! You did so great. I don't even know what I would have done (and really, did she not have some idea she was about to spew so maybe she could miss hitting her fellow passengers?)

Luckily, I've only got about a 48 hour incubation fear, or maybe that's the length of my attention span. I hope you don't really worry for two weeks. Good luck.

Andy said...

Wow. That'

I'm trying to think of other similar situations I've been in, and it's difficult. I've been around people who've had too much to drink at parties (or after them) and who've thrown up, but that's a very different vibe, of course. And I've been next to people on small ships who've been seasick and had to throw up over the side. Again, very different.

I hope the trauma is short and somehow enlightening, if it's not stupid to say. I could say "you wouldn't be confronted with this by (G-d/the Universe/the FSM/whatever) if you couldn't handle it", but I don't actually believe that. Hopefully, though, this can serve as an example of you being challenged and seeing nothing too bad happened. Not that it's a situation you want to be in ever again, but one that also wasn't the end of the world. I'm sorry if this is coming over as patronizing or anything-- I wouldn't wish this on anyone. But perhaps the non-rational part of the general trauma will respond better to a non-rational demonstration than a rational discussion of your safety using all the statistics in the world?

Just thinking out loud here.

Hopefully some sleep will also help you at least a little bit.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey there BeatOCD - I have to say I don't think she had any idea she was sick, it was so sudden. And it was hot in line. Maybe she just got overheated or something. I re-read my post and feel I was a little hard on her, since I can't imagine how I'd feel if I hucked in line at the airport. I should have more compassion. But I'm too messed up at the moment. A two day incubation is plenty long enough to be miserable, I agree. But for flus and the like I'm usually wound up for the full two weeks. But I'll try to be positive. Thank you for the good wishes!

The Blue Morpho said...

Andy - Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your thoughts. And if I knew the reason she was sick it would actually help. I've been around drunk friends, too, and when they spew I don't feel like I'm going to get sick from it (other than the at-the-moment nausea of watching someone hork). And I understand what you mean about 'enlightening', but it doesn't feel that way at the moment - I just wish it hadn't happened. Still, when I do live through rotten stuff like this, it does give perspective. Write back in two weeks and I'll let you know if I got some nasty flu and croaked or not :) Sorry. Morbid. But that's the whole thing with contamination OCD. It's all I'M GOING TO DIE and very little can make you think otherwise. Blogging helps - and people reading and commenting like you also help! So thanks.

Annie said...


As someone who also suffers from fairly severe generalized anxiety disorder...that sounds like an absolute nightmare.

You handled yourself so well :)

Nice to have new material to read!

therapydoc said...

But seriously, it was BLOGWORTHY! Don't throw that suitcase away so fast!

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello Annie: Thanks so much for the comment and support. I do believe that anyone would be pretty flipped out by being trapped in line in that situation. My spouse was hardly happy, himself, but unlike me had basically forgotten about it two days later. BTW, sorry for slow response. I was in one of my depressive fugues that take me off the net for months at a time. Trying to get my life back on the rails. Thanks again!

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello Therapydoc: My spouse and I have a philosophy that "Whatever does not kill you makes for a good story". So yes, at least good post material. I did actually ditch the suitcase. Spouse said it was old and beat up anyway, so why not get a new one? And no, didn't catch anything at all on the trip, either from the throw-up lady or from the airplane. Other than maybe it was partially responsible for the depression that sometimes follows as a backlash from really anxious events. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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