TW: Emetophobia, Vomiting, Choking, Death.
This is a topic that’s actually really hard for me to talk about. Not because talking about the phobia is an issue, but how it came about. For those that are wondering, Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting or seeing someone else vomit. According to Anxiety UK, more women suffer with it than men.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always really hated it when other people have vomited around or near me. But it was never a phobia. I would just cover my ears or walk out of a room to get away from it as the sound was something that really grossed me out.
Chronic Illness Is How It Began
Most of you already know I suffer from multiple chronic health issues, and as such, I am pretty much furniture at the hospital (no joke). A few years ago, I was in the hospital due to having Acute Cholangitis and marking for Sepsis. I still remember this day so clearly. I was so ill and they were pumping 3 different IV antibiotics into me to try and get the infections under control as I’d declined pretty rapidly. The fever and rigors were brutal and I’d been vomiting most of the day despite having not eaten for days.
Everything hurt. I was in such bad shape. I couldn’t mobilize. They wanted to catheterize me but I refused. Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t.
The night came around pretty quick. I always worry about people not noticing if something happened to me. I was really on edge and that wasn’t helped by the fact that by the evening they couldn’t stop my vomiting. I’d been given as much IV anti-emetics as possible, and they weren’t working.
The decision was made by an on call to place an NG tube with a bile bag, to keep my stomach drained. It was awful. They needed to stop my vomiting ASAP. Unfortunately, I continued vomiting past the tube which led to manual aspiration of my stomach. But that didn’t help either. It was a struggle to keep the tube down. My body was doing this so violently that I was almost losing control of my bladder, and in a moment of where I’d stopped vomiting, the nurse brought the commode and helped me out of bed and onto it before leaving and pulling my curtain.
I can remember thinking to myself how awful it’d be if I started vomiting again whilst on the commode.
And then something truly awful happened.
The Moment I’ll Never Forget
I started choking. Despite having not eaten for days, something got lodged in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t move. No one could see or hear that I was choking.
In that moment all I could think about was how I’ll never see my baby boy or my Fiance again, and that I wasn’t ready to die. I cannot explain how much that hurt. Even now, thinking about it fucking crushes me.
I started panicking. All I could do was push and bash at the visitor’s chairs stacked next to me, the other side of my curtain. Thankfully one of the nurses heard the chairs and he came rushing in. He realised I was choking and pretty much thumped my back so hard that it dislodged the vomit in my throat. I cried so hard after and couldn’t, still can’t believe it happened to me.
Emetophobia & Me
After the choking incident, I became terrified of vomiting. So much so that it causes me many panic attacks. Just feeling a little sick is enough to send me spiraling, reaching for anti-emetic medications I have on prescription before I have a panic attack. I cannot leave the house without all 3 of my anti-emetic medications with me. I’ve called my Fiance home numerous times when things have been bad and I know I’ll likely vomit because I am so scared that I am going to die.
Having Gastroparesis makes it worse because I feel sick a lot, which makes me so anxious. And it causes a lot of vomiting. In my case undigested food, which has nearly gotten stuck numerous times.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get over my Emetophobia. It controls so much of my life, and it’s tiring. Emetophobia is more than just not liking hearing someone vomit or not wanting to vomit. It is, in my opinion, a debilitating phobia. And I so desperately want to get help to work through it. But I don’t think I ever will. A near death experience isn’t something you can just get over.
Do you suffer from Emetophobia?