the runs: poetic reflections

i don’t want to tell you about what’s happening here my last day in thailand, except i am obviously about to because i’m an awake writer experiencing something daunting. and everyone i could tell about this is asleep.

y’all. the speed with which microorganisms have put me in my place is so humbling. i am fascinated in my misery.

my weak american gut has been bested by something here, something that doesn’t harm those who live here. i am trying not to take it personally, even though being an american means always being somewhat responsible for the mess.

i don’t want to even guess what caused this, because i don’t want to cast aspersions at all the yummy things i’ve bravely tried. after my swift and violent midvisit reaction to the strange fruit called durian, i’ve been more cautious about putting things in my mouth. but i’m human, so i did put things in my mouth. delicious and sometimes mysterious things. and one of those things changed me.

this morning i woke up feeling like i was nauseous with hunger. i felt a gaping growing void in the center of my system, which slowly began to burp and bubble in a way that whispered, gently, ‘don’t fart’.

i tried to eat oatmeal, but the nausea was stronger than the hunger, so i chilled on that. after two sweet rounds with baby and parents, supporting them through a night that involved six hours of baby feeding and only two hours of sleep, i retired to my room feeling like a balloon. a balloon full of toxic carbonation.

there i tried to sleep the strange gaseous nausea away (but that just made it even bubblier, get it?). i brought a trashcan near the bed, because as a Virgo i try to never be unprepared for mess.

the alien force in my body apparently took that as a sign of welcome and immediately bent me over that trashcan and started trying to free itself through my mouth. i moved to the bathroom and got the cherished and, to date, avoided, experience of becoming a passageway, with a river flowing out from me in every direction.

i had the brief moment that i suspect most of us who live with eating disorders experience in the first seconds of the runs – ooh i’m going to lose some weight! then i was on my knees feeling how i love every pound of flesh i’ve acquired and apologizing for anything i did to bring this harm into me.

it was not beautiful. i prayed for breaks so i could breathe and wipe away tears. i felt cleansed at every level of my being. at this point i also had to relinquish the narrative that it was just gas.

gas doesn’t make fecal waterfalls.
too much?
yes, it is too much. but it’s also real life. and it’s happening to me.

i did research and found many names i won’t repeat (they all sound western and colonial) for what is happening to me, because fecal waterfalls, while cringe worthy, is the most accurate. i’ve spent the last eight hours trying to sleep between Jackie Joyner Kersee paced dashes to the loo.

the “sleeping” is hard because the bacteria inside me are engaged in a muy thai tournament to the death. i even attempted some slow, distraught packing, which looked like carrying one small thing at a time to my suitcase and then catching my breath. the whole time i heard myself chanting “oh lord God why do you smite me so? am i not your child, perfect lord? have i not tried obsessively hard to avoid fecal matter on food?”, knowing all along that my late grandfather would chastise me for only turning to Him on my deathbed.

the internet says i will be fine in a couple of days. it says to stay hydrated, a miraculous task i must somehow achieve with substances that only seem to source the waterfall. i’m chugging liquids into a dusty forlorn mouth.

i’m sad because i want to be relishing the last hours with my baby friend instead of laying in fetal position, feeling like a less than cute newborn giant who has no sense of shame or timing and probably needs a new diaper.

but this writing is cathartic, i really do need to process this in words, reclaim myself as a being of coherence, not incontinence. i don’t think you need to read about my fecal matter or anyone else’s, but i’m grateful for the imagined company.

and no regrets – i’m so glad i came here, i love it.

i’m really glad i went exploring yesterday, and that this didn’t come over me outside the hotel.

i got to chant with a protector Buddha, and do rituals with a reclining Buddha for beloved ones living and beyond.

i’m grateful for this journey and for getting to witness the first weeks of this dynamic little being who responds so sweetly to my silly auntie songs.

i’m praying that this resolves itself before my flight tomorrow. won’t you help me pray? that the chaotic little bacteria within me find peace, that they go back the way they came…no, let me be precise cause i can’t do that when-do-i-get-to-breathe barf thing again. let’s pray that they let go of their death grip on my tender-boweled body and go with the flow, back into that great great sewage of 18 million souls.

mkay? mkay.