Thursday, April 20, 2017

On Ethiopian Food

Quite a weekend this weekend. Kelly’s dear friend Annette got us tickets to go to the Head and the Heart concert at the State Theatre. I’ve been listening to the band and getting pumped for the concert since January, so I was pretty stoked that the day had finally arrived. I wore my favorite pair of jeans that I’ve had since my Baltimore days, and my favorite orange sweater because it’s, as one of my college girls said, a fan favorite. I even had one of my college girls put on makeup for the occasion, so I was feeling on point, ready to do something outside of the norm. Not to belabor the point that I make frequently, but there isn’t an overwhelming number of things that I loved to do in my pre-MS life that I can still do in my post-MS life, but listening to live music is still one of those things. (And honestly, I can do it better now than I could when I was healthy because I usually get pretty sweet seats.)

So you get the point, I was excited for the concert.

Kelly and I met Annette and her partner, Dan, at Hawii, a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant downtown. Kelly and I had both eaten there once, and though I recalled it was spicy, I also recalled it was delicious. And one of my best Baltimore friends and I used to frequent an Ethiopian restaurant in Baltimore that I loved. As dining out is another post-MS activity that I continue to enjoy, I looked forward to our Ethiopian feast almost as much as I looked forward to the concert. Upon arrival, we ordered three meat dishes and two vegetarian dishes that came on injira, a type of flatbread that reminds me of a flourless pancake, and we split everything three ways (Dan ordered to his own dish). Anyway, everything was delicious, and despite the fact that I was slightly nervous about the spices, I ate without abandon. A decision that I came to regret less than two hours later.

We got to the concert before the opening act and arranged ourselves in the front row insert after (one perk of the wheelchair). Kelly took the headrest off of my wheelchair so it wouldn’t interfere with anyone’s view, and we settled in to eat our stale Ithaca bakery cookies while listening to Springtime Carnivore. Opening bands are very seldom bands that I would independently elect to listen to, but for whatever reason the music from this particular band made me more uncomfortable than usual. Not uncomfortable in a I feel awkward type of way, but uncomfortable in a I need to get out of my skin-type of way. It wasn’t the band’s fault, but the uncomfortable feeling just coincidentally crept through my body simultaneous with their set. I am prone to these sorts of feelings on occasion, so I tried not to panic. My body isn’t particularly comfortable to exist in on a good day, so add a couple arm cramps, a neck spasm or two, and it becomes increasingly difficult to think about anything other than my own discomfort. As my discomfort morphed into queasiness, however, I became somewhat alarmed. Unfortunately at this point, The Head and The Heart had just started playing, so it was way too loud to express my growing concern to Kelly. I glanced around wondering if there was a nearby receptacle just in case I had to throw up, and seeing nothing I realized my queasiness should not have been ignored. I proceeded to vomit all over the front of my dryclean-only sweater, my pants, my wheelchair and even my shoes. There was almost no warning and no ability to contain myself, I felt like the girl from the exorcist. Kelly sprang into action and had my chair on, heading out of the concert before anyone even noticed what had happened, but her plans to whisk me away into the bathroom were thwarted by a broken stair lift. Unable to escort us from the stage level to the bathroom level a few stairs up, Kelly backed me out of the nonfunctional lift. I can’t say at that point I even noticed what was going on, I was just trying my best to convince myself that the nausea was over and I was going to be okay. Once Kelly backed us out of the broken elevator lift, Annette and Dan parted the crowd as we attempted to exit the concert amidst standing fans.

In retrospect, I’m pretty embarrassed that this happened, especially considering the fact that my face was covered in vomit. At the time though, all I wanted to do was get some cool air on my face and leave the concert.

Luckily, despite the fact that I tried to convince Kelly to take me to her house and get me changed so we could get back to the concert before it ended, Kelly took me straight home. It was a good thing too, because in the privacy of my own bathroom I vomited about 10 more times – all while Kelly held my head forward and the garbage can in front of my face. She was even able to hold the garbage can for me while giving me a shower, a most impressive feat. Suffice to say, the evening did not pan out the way either one of us planned, but more important than my retrospective mortification, I also am immensely grateful for several things:

·        Having a partner that is incredible in times of crisis. I hate to have Kelly see me vomit uncontrollably because I fear every time she sees me from now on she will picture me with vomit on my face, but she is undeniably the best person to have by my side. Nobody makes me feel more safe or more taken care of then Kelly. Something I do not take for granted and that I wish I could reciprocate.

·        Friends like Annette and Dan who immediately abandoned their front row seats at the concert to move the crowd out of our way during our exit.
·        Madison, one of my Ithaca College PT students, who changed her plans to spend the night at my house to make sure that I did not have any additional nausea related incidents. Her reliability and maturity enabled Kelly to go let her dog out, while trusting I was in good hands.
·        My mom, whose relaxing Saturday night of watching dateline murder mysteries on the couch, was exchanged for an evening of laundering Ethiopian vomit-saturated clothing.
·        The State Theater who, after learning about the broken lift, offered us complementary tickets to an upcoming show and had the lift serviced and fixed the next day.

I guess I will avoid Ethiopian food, at least for the near term, and in the future, as soon as I feel anything that could possibly be defined as “queasiness”, I will hopefully let someone know before it is too late.



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