On Puke and Personal Growth
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
I am not sure if sympathetic vomiter is a label I could totally embrace. I have had children vomit on me without much concern. Yet, when it came to cleaning up after the dog, my stomach took pause and my gag reflex kicked in, every time.
Today, vomit one occurred in the vet's office, and they rushed to clean up after him. For the record my pooch is a Great Dane who outweighs me by more than half a stone, so these are not minor messes. Vomit two occurred after we arrived home, in the presence of a confirmed sympathetic vomiter; what was I to do but conquer my own gag reflex? Wearing plastic gloves, I filled a trash bag with towels I preferred to just throw away then clean, pausing as needed to keep my nausea at bay. Because the puppy is recovering from a scheduled surgery, I could not let him play in the yard off leash, even though he loves the snow. I had to keep a puking dog in my house.
By vomit four, there were no more dry heaves from me - just a lot of laundry, washing all of his bedding. Twelve hours later, a second trip to the vet, an anti-nausea shot, two new prescriptions, and we have had almost as many piles of sick as hours - I have lost count - I now feel confident in my ability to manage large amounts of vomit.
Wouldn't you consider an adult-sized dog repetitively vomiting to be a stressor? Any stressor presents us with an opportunity to grow. Stress can be a positive thing or a negative thing; it is really up to you. Stress can set you back or send you scurrying for cover and/or comfort. On the other side, stress can teach you important things or present you with an opportunity to practice making better choices. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I can get angry, allowing my heart to race and my blood to boil, thinking about all the what if's; or I can practice relaxation and focus on being a better (defensive) driver myself. Eustress is the type of stress that helps you grow, and I try to keep a positive frame of mind to turn any stressor into eustress. Today, I was successful.
I have lost a blanket and several towels today, but I have gained confidence in my ability to handle such situations. I did not vomit!