One Last Story Before Bed

This whole #Plague business is actually reminding me of my second summer working as a Camp Counselor.  That year, during the last week of camp when we all had the really young kids (aka the kids that require the most attention and work).  All of our cabins were full.

Well, the very first day of camp that week, my cabin was enjoying one of my favorite activities; running barefoot through the sprinklers around the activity field and throwing a frisbee around.  Seriously, I love it.  It is so fun and carefree.

Anyway, right as we were turning the sprinklers off and lining up to go to lunch, I noticed that my nose was a little stuffy and I had an itch at the back of my throat.  Now, I have terrible allergies, so I really wouldn’t have thought anything of it had it not been for two of my coworkers (both from different cabins) report that they weren’t feeling well the day before.

By that night, I was sick as a dog.  I had lost my voice completely, which was a bummer since it was my coworker’s night off, which meant that I had to be the one to get the girls ready for bed by light’s out.  This particular group of girls also insisted on a bedtime story every night.  I don’t remember what I read them, but it was probably the most pitiful story they’d ever heard.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was The 12 Dancing Princesses.  But I digress.

By the next day, at least one counselor from each cabin had been stricken with what we officially dubbed “The All Saints Epidemic.”  (All Saints was the name of my camp).  The funny thing (and blessing, when you think about it) was that every sick person was from a different cabin, and none of our co-counselors got it (there were two counselors per cabin).  That was just about the only good thing about it, though.  Well that, and none of our campers got sick, which was a flat out miracle.

Our poor camp nurse was overrun with sick counselors.  She insisted that what we all really needed was to stay inside and stay in bed, but there was absolutely no way any of us could do that.  We had the most campers we’d had that summer AND they were all young, like kindergarten to third grade young.  So, instead of assigning us all to bed rest, she pumped us all full of Sudafed and Robitussin.  She was so dedicated that she even made personal deliveries throughout the day.

At the end of one day about halfway through the week, she ran out of Robitussin (that was supposed to last us the entire summer) and had to make a run into town to the nearest Wal-Mart (30 minutes away) to get us some more.  I actually got the very last of the old bottle and she told me not to even bother with the little cup and let me drain the bottle, just like a pirate throwing back a bottle of rum.

Along with taking care of all those kids, I also had waterfront duty that summer, so it was my job to be down at the lake, run the buddy board, ring the Everyone Out of the Water Bell, etc…  One day, though, I was so sick and medicated that I fell asleep right on the bench next to the bell.  I am a very self-conscious person.  I NEVER fall asleep in public, especially in the middle of the day.  Well, not unless I have jet lag, but that’s a different story.  But thanks to that dumb illness and the drugs I was out.  That was probably the lowest point in the illness for me.

Somehow, we all made it through the week, and I even got to partake in a mud fight.  I didn’t care how sick I was, I was not about to miss out on that!  However, the illness lasted at least a week after camp ended, making that almost a full two weeks.  I didn’t end up going to the doctor, because each day I thought, “Surely, I’ll feel better tomorrow.”  HA.  One of my co-workers (the one I suspect started it all) did, however, and she was diagnosed with a very bad case of bronchitis.  I’m guessing that’s what we all had, but to me, it will forever be known as The All Saints Epidemic.  And it was awful.

Phobias and How They Actually Can Ruin Your Life

I had thought about writing a post kind of like this one when I heard about that cruise ship that had been overrun by the norovirus, but I thought it might be better to let you all keep thinking that I am a totally sane and mentally stable individual.  Well, tonight, I’m saying “to heck with it,” and I’m just going to tell you.

I have a phobia.  Of vomit.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t handle it well.  That’s a lie.  I don’t handle it at all.  You know how some people are so deathly afraid of spiders that they can’t handle being in the same room as one?  That’s how I am with puke (but in case you’re wondering, I’m totally fine with spiders).

I know a lot of people will try to empathize and say, “Oh, I get grossed out too,” but it’s not the same.  I get grossed out when I see a bug or when someone sneezes without covering their mouth.  When regurgitation, it’s an entirely different reaction.  Long story short, you can’t get me away fast enough.  My irrational and admittedly ridiculous fear of people throwing up around me can be crippling.

I won’t go into details about it because, quite frankly, the details are disgusting.  No one likes being sick or being around people who are sick, but it was actually a really big issue for me in high school.  I have gotten (a little) better about it as I’ve gotten older, but tonight, I’m afraid I feel a relapse coming on, and I’ll tell you why.

My mom and I had plans to go see a musical tomorrow at my sister’s old high school.  A lot of her friends are in it and since she can’t go, we wanted to at least make an appearance, go support her friends, and it’s Sherk the Musical.  I’ve been wanting to see that for ages!

However, about thirty minutes ago, she called to inform me that her Twitter feed was exploding with reports of the #Plague going around her high school.  It just so happens that #Plague = STOMACH FLU.  The really bad kind that hits you without warning and spreads like wildfire.  If reports are to be believed, dozens of kids were sent home this afternoon.  They were literally dropping like flies.

As I’m listening to her reports of the #Plague, I can actually feel myself pulling away from the phone, as though just talking about it will somehow infect me.  I’m trying really hard to remind myself that I haven’t been exposed and that I am meticulous about my hand-washing and personal hygiene, but it’s not doing me a lot of good (hence me complaining about it to all of you here online).

You can probably guess where this is going.  Thanks to this virus, I am absolutely terrified of setting foot in that auditorium this weekend.  It’s like asking an arachnophobe to go sit in a room infested with spiders for three hours.  Although I am fairly certain no one will get sick in the theater, I am convinced the entire place will be crawling with germs with the potential to make me sick.  Yeah, the fear of puke doesn’t just apply to people puking around me.  I’m equally (if not more) terrified of catching it myself.  I will do whatever it takes to avoid getting sick.  I am a stickler when it comes to expiration dates.  I won’t eat certain things at certain restaurants.  I’ve never had more than two alcoholic drinks together in my life because I am so scared of hangovers and throwing up.  And I certainly make it a priority to avoid sick people and places where I know people have been sick.

People ask me all the time if I based any of my characters in Cemetery Tours off of myself.  The answer is usually “no,” but the truth is that I base certain aspects of all my characters’ quirks and traits off of my own.  For those of you who’ve read Cemetery Tours, you’ll know that Kate, my female protagonist, is something of a germ-a-phobe.  That’s her little bit of me.  I am a germ-a-phobe.  Actually, the technical term is “Emetophobe,” because I don’t have a fear of catching colds (though I really hate them) or even the seasonal flu (though that sucks also), just the stomach stuff.

I don’t want to not go see this musical that I’ve been looking forward to for so long, but I’m going to have to really get a grip on my anxieties if I’m going to make it through the whole three hours.  That, and pack a LOT of hand-sanitizer.  And maybe a breathing mask.  And gloves.

In other news, Cemetery Tours got another great review on Amazon.

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I’m still having a lot of fun with the sequel.  I’ve also really been in a de-cluttering mood, so I’ve been cleaning out shelves and drawers and trying to transform my home into something you’d seen on Pinterest.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight.  I hope everyone stays healthy, because if you’re not, then I do not want to be around you.