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By Staff | Dec 12, 2014

An uninvited and unwelcome guest came to our house recently. His stay was short – only about 48 hours – but his visit left us emotionally and physically drained.

I am speaking about that nasty intestinal bug that has been making the rounds lately.

My wife was the first to sense his presence.

“I don’t feel so well,” she said to me one morning. “I’m kind of urpy and my tummy is rumbling like Mount Vesuvius shortly before its epic eruption in 79 AD, a historical fact that one can look up on Wikipedia and use at times such as this.”

As chief medical officer of our household, it was my duty to diagnose the patient. This consisted entirely of taking her temperature via the proven scientific method of placing a hand on her forehead.”You don’t have a fever,” I said. “It’s probably just something you ate.

“I told you we should have thrown out that potato salad. When we bought it, the Colonel was still just a private.”

“I’m going to lie down,” was her only reply. The fact that she didn’t point out that it was me who had insisted on keeping the leftovers told me that she wasn’t kidding about feeling ill.

I was performing important journalistic research – watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons on the internet – when I heard some strange sounds emanating from the bathroom. My wife seemed to be calling for someone named Bork.

“You OK?” I asked when she staggered out of the loo.

“What do you think?” she replied. “My gut feels like it’s been worked over by Mike Tyson. I yakked so much, I saw a taco that I ate in 1973.”

My wife is prone to exaggeration and hyperbole, so I patted her on the head and told her to go back to bed. I was certain that the picture wasn’t nearly as bleak as she had painted it and that she merely had some minor stomach issues.

Throughout the day she made several more verbal visits to the lavatory. In between times I would offer her 7-Up and soda crackers, but that only caused her to blanch and bolt for the bathroom.

I found this deeply troubling, mainly because I was worried that I might also be stricken. But I decided that getting sick wasn’t an option. I simply would not allow it. Using nothing but the sheer force of will, I would avoid the dreaded fate of driving the porcelain bus.

And it worked – for a while. By the next morning, I had the distinct feeling that a mighty maelstrom was brewing in my digestive regions. As the thunderheads of nausea gathered and boiled, I vowed that I wouldn’t let the gut bug win.

My wife had by then pretty much recovered. She checked in on me at midmorning. “How are you doing?” she asked.

“It feels as if an EF5 tornado, which, according to Wikipedia, can have winds in excess of 200 mph, is churning its way through my innards.”

“You always exaggerate everything. It’s probably just a minor stomach thing.”

I languished in anguish for half a day. There were times when I thought that my determination might successfully beat back the enemy, but this was swiftly followed by the sense that the invaders were about to breach my defenses.

Just when I was beginning to believe that hostilities might end with an uneasy ceasefire, a tsunami of profound emotions swept over me. The kind of profound emotions that, as a rule, causes a person to sprint for the bathroom.

Once there, I was faced with an extremely pressing dilemma: which end should I hold over the toilet first? What followed is probably not what they had in mind when they minted the word “multitasking.”

Afterwards, I was engulfed by a deep feeling of relief. I crawled back under the covers, glad that the storm was over. But it wasn’t over.

Several additional urgent bathroom visits took place over the course of the day. My wife tried to help by offering 7-Up and soda crackers. Of what use would such things be to a man who, in the professional opinion of our family’s chief medical officer, was clearly dying?

\At some indiscernible point, some invisible corner was turned. Less than a day after they had materialized, most of the symptoms had disappeared.

We knew that our unwelcome houseguest had left when we could sit upright and watch TV without feeling woozy. We sipped weak tea and nibbled on saltines, both of us murmuring that this was a feast fit for the gods.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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