(warning: slightly graphic imagery ahead)
Yesterday, I forgot I was allergic to shellfish, and ate a crab.
A few itchy hives reminded me. I noted that they were not too bad, and proceeded to eat another crab. Last time I had a reaction, it was to soft-shell crab, and involved an hour of feeling like there was a fire in my stomach and putting my head down while waiting for my spin cycle in a laundromat. Not too bad. Besides, my Epi-Pen was in the next room (terrible logic). Besides, it was my dad’s birthday. Birthday crabs.
I soon learned that allergic reactions may increase in severity over time. In retrospect, this makes sense: the body becomes increasingly ready to respond to an allergen after repeated exposure.
After about an hour of entertaining some fiery dance inside my stomach and combating nausea by watching Iron Chef Junior with my sister, I couldn’t take it and headed for the bathroom.
Never have I seen my own vomit travel at such high velocity.
The deed was quick and dirty. In half a second, I felt a livid mass exit my stomach and hit the sink, about a meter away. Back-of-the-envelope calculation: 2 m/s, or 5 mph, or 4 knots.
The contents did not seem to be digested; they looked and smelled just like what I had eaten for dinner. I saw some tofu bits in there, fish cake slivered by my incisors, and of course, cilantro pieces. I love cilantro.
In the few seconds before my next heave, I realized the food was solid and would not go down the sink. I turned to the toilet bowl—SPLAT! As I heaved again, I noticed the monstrous action occurring deep down inside of me. It was as if there were a livid shot-putter living in my gut. I felt my diaphragm contract with a force I never thought possible, to expel this glop. (“WHAT THE F** IS THIS! WE DON’T WANT IT! GET IT OUT OF HERE!”)
I was amazed.
Speechless, I heaved once more, and that was the end of it. Yup, everything came out in about 3 heaves. I would estimate there were about 4 cups of food, or 2 16oz Pyrex measuring cups, or an hour’s worth of eating, or three hours worth of Mommy’s food prep. Or ten hours of my sister’s carrying around an expensive pound of Chilean sea bass all day, which she purchased that morning from Chelsea Market for Daddy’s birthday dinner. All that input undone by a swift 5 seconds of heaving into the toilet.
I felt much better, and didn’t even taste vomit—that diaphragm did a good job. All I can say is that the human body is simply amazing. Never have I known this tremendous power that exists in there. I feel superhuman, in a new reverent awe of the power of my gut muscles. Apparently, I can thank the co-contractions of my diaphragm, external intercostal muscles, and abdominal muscles.
Another thing my body has is hands, very useful. In my wonderment and daze, I proceeded to use those to scoop the first heave of regurgitated dinner from the sink basin into the toilet bowl. It was so solid that it worked.
Crabs? Never again. But projectile vomit? SO cool.