My eyes snapped open. Discomfort, pain, trouble breathing… I first thought that it was my body position giving me grief, so I shifted a little – not too much, as my partner was lying against my side – and tried to resume the slumber I’d be suddenly roused from. This movement only made the pain worse, and I suddenly realised that I could barely breathe at all. Panic attack? Anxiety attack? Episode caused by psychological strain? The pain was coming in waves, a throbbing, stabbing, cramping torment.
In agony, I crawled out of bed and immediately collapsed to the floor. What is happening to me? Definitely not psycho-somatic. On all fours, I desperately tried to catch my breath, but I could only manage mere gasps – all the muscles in my abdomen were clenched tight, as if by an invisible fist. As I struggled to get air into my lungs, I pulled myself into the bathroom. Maybe I could throw up? Maybe there’s something in my tummy that needs to get out?
Dry-heaving over the toilet, it became clear that I just couldn’t manage to vomit – I could neither get enough air nor perform the stomach contortions necessary, not while my whole lower half was completely contracted. Spasms wracked my body, without let-up. Sweat pouring from every pore, I lay down on the tiles and croaked for help, to no avail. What the fuck is wrong with my digestive system? Somebody call for an ambulance, please! My lover was dead to the world, and dead was what I was pretty sure I would soon be.
As I huddled, the waves gradually ebbed…so I gratefully used the intermission to climb into bed, praying that this was a permanent cessation of the pain. Please, please, please let the worst be over. Sadly, the terrible aches returned with a vengeance, and I was soon moaning, clenching my hair in my fist and locking my jaws together. My pillow was soon drenched with the sheer amount of sweat flowing out of me. The pain was truly intense. Noises you would be hard pressed to recognise as human emerged from my mouth, muffled screeches and terrified groans, with every plunge of daggers into my gut.
Eventually, these anguished cries brought the love of my life out of her comatose condition, and she immediately told me to sit up. Easy for her to say, I can barely breathe! Nonetheless, I followed her instruction – at this stage, I would have tried anything to ease the pain. While not ending the agony, this served to lessen the literally breath-taking effects of the cramps, making it easier to deal with everything going wrong in my belly. After another few rounds of gut-wrenching endurance, I felt able to lie down and, soon enough, fell back asleep.
In the morning, I was relieved to find upon waking that the mysterious affliction had all but disappeared. Given how much sweat had run off my body, it was no surprise that I was dehydrated, and considering the trauma dished out it was hardly a shock to find that there was still residual tenderness. Light-headed and leggy, for sure, but delighted to be rid of whatever-it-was that had caused the crisis. Even so, I was certainly worse for wear.
What on earth had it been?
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…✙