Monday, November 22, 2010

My Low Gag Threshold

Deb: For as long as I can remember I have had a hair-trigger gag reflex.

I come from a long line of gaggers. My father has to have the dentist spray his mouth to freeze it when doing any work, even just an examination.

I can relate. I am a visual gagger, most of us are. Worms, sidewalk spit, a hair in my food, all
the usual suspects.

But I am also a cerebral gagger. I just have to think of something that is potentially gross and I am off ... Heaving and spewing to beat the band. The human version of an expelling furball. It’s not pretty. And it can be embarrassing.

I was at a funeral once standing at the grave of a lovely man who died far too soon. Everyone was crying, tissues in hand. Except one woman who was wailing sans tissue allowing her nosily fluids to drip, nay, pour down her face and onto her clothes and the ground. Well, I don’t mind telling you ...

…wait a minute ... Gagging. Not even kidding. Wait. Wait. Breathe. Wait.

As I was saying, I don’t mind telling you that I started gagging and it was awful. People comforting me, thinking I was in a state. The man beside me took my arm thinking I was literally sick with grief. I nodded that I was okay, waved him away, and walked to my car, heaving and cacking all the way.

I have tried all the tricks. Breathe in through your nose, out from your mouth. Think of something lovely. Bend over at the waist.  They say it’s impossible to gag if you are bent over at the waist. LIARS.

I also go through this every single morning when I take my vitamins. Pop one in––Gag. Next one––Gag!  Think about the fact that I was just gagging––GAG. Realize I am going to gag the next time I take my vitamins––Gag.

My husband is the anti-gagger. Don’t think anything can make the man gag.  Same with the boy. He is skitterish to be sure, but not a gagger. I am jealous of them.

I guess the only bright spot is that it’s good for toning up the old stomach muscles.

Still, I wish someone would put a gag order on me!

Barbara: Oh, Deb, you had me rolling on the floor with this one!

Hmmm, I guess I’m an anti-gagger. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a gag response to anything. In fact, I remember once waiting in a line-up for which they’d provided johnny-on-the-spots (okay, it was a warehouse sale and the line-up was hours long … this was back in my more-patience-than money days). Anyway, the johnny was not being used a lot and the line-up was predominantly women, so I’m assuming it couldn’t have been that offensive. But I watched in surprise as a woman burst out of that thing as if escaping gas-extermination, violently gagging and dry-heaving and hurling herself about in frantic dog-chasing-tail circles. “The smell, the smell,” she moaned with Apocolypse Now conviction. (I am now imagining poor Deb gagging at the mere thought of this display.) I stood there, ironclad-stomach and all, and watched her in silent wonder. It wasn’t possible, I thought, for anyone to be that sensitive, was it? Sorry, Deb, I actually (secretly) dubbed her a “drama queen”. Yes, I was a bit of Judgy McJudgerton.

But I take it back now and offer both you fine women a bit of a mea culpa. This is another reminder, isn’t it, of how we are all built a little differently. After all, we don’t ask for a gag-reflex, obviously don’t enjoy it, and certainly can’t control it. Queen of Gag maybe, but never Drama Queen.

And now for your enjoyment, Deb in all her gag-ilicious glory!


  1. That video is awesome! That is soooo me! Well, the gag part anyways.... too funny!

  2. Gaggers of the world unite! Glad you could relate.

  3. Deb, in my mind, I am running screaming from combining your gag reflex post with your bladder control post. It's a disturbing equation for TMI.

    My son has the most sensitive gag reflex I have ever witnessed. He has sensory filtration issues to begin with. Combine that with a sensitive gag reflex, and the laughs (not) just keep a comin'. One time when he was around 4yo, I was babysitting a 3yo friend of his. I took the boys to Burger King as a treat. The 3yo had atrocious table manners. There's no way around the fact that he was really gross while eating. My son kept moaning, and I kept telling him, "Look away. Don't watch him eat," while trying to coax the 3yo into eating in such a way that witnesses weren't horrified. Finally, kiddo couldn't take it anymore, and he vomitted all over the table. He got so grossed out by seeing the other little boy's repulsive manners that it made him vomit. So, anyone in the BK who wasn't already squeamed by the 3 year old's ickiness was then thoroughly squeamed by my child's vomit volcano.

    My son and I were once in a group that walked into a room where someone had recently burned some coffee on the hot plate of the coffee maker. This is an unpleasant smell that I strongly dislike. I crinkled my nose, went with the mouth breathing, and was fine. Kiddo immediately hurried to the trashcan, bent over, and vomitted because of the smell. So, Deb, you have my son's comiseration.

    My gag reflex is fairly mild. Smells will get me over anything else, but I can usually quell it. My friend A cannot cope with vomit. Not the sound, smell, sight, not at all. She has 4 kids so there's vomit in her world. Her 2nd youngest had a long, severe battle with esophagitis and vomitted quite a bit, even blood, for months. ER visit after ER visit, hospital stay after hospital stay, IV for dehydration after IV, and 2 outpatient operations down in the city at the children's hospital. And, A constantly struggled with the puke factor. I spent A LOT of time helping take care of her daughter, holding the emesis basin, washing the vomit out of her curly hair, changing puked up bedding, etc. while A and her husband tried to juggle work and 3 other children (including a premature baby with complications). When I was looking work, I joked with A that I should put "Professional Puke Bucket Holder" on my resume and use her as a reference.

    Sights and sounds don't usually get me. I've had intestines splatter at my feet from eviscerations, blood by the gallon, etc. I've held together the meaty tissue and bone fragments of a man's foot after he'd been shot close range with a shotgun. The only visual sights that give me pause are slit throats (esp. with the sucking sound of trying to move air) and eyeball unseated from its orbit and dangling on a person's cheek hanging by the optic nerve. I admit a wave of cold dizziness washes over me when presented with those things (damn sympathetic nervous system!), but I cowgirl up and cope.

    I think the last time I gagged involuntarily was when our cat had puked up a huge volume of half digested catfood and hairballs on the floor. When I went to wipe it up, the handful of tissues I was using wasn't thick enough, and I could feel the warm, smelly, lumpy goo soaking through to my fingers. I had a little furball moment of my own there, but it passed. It was the warmth of the goo that got to me. I also have to willfully tighten my grip when holding a vial of freshly drawn blood that's still warm. The blood doesn't phase me, but the fresh-from-the-body warmth gives me pause. *shrugs* Weird, I know.

  4. Rigel tell kiddo I feel his pain. Poor kid. Wow, you have had some gag worthy stuff in your life. Thank heaven you are NOT a big gagger. I actually do not gag at the sight of blood. No issues there at all. But some of the stuff you described had me...gag...achh...urrpppphhhhh...cac

  5. What a cute gagger you are. When I gag (and it can be at just the thought of something disgusting; I don't have to see, hear, smell or feel it), it's loud and frightening and makes everyone else sick.

    Thanks for this; I barely managed not to spew my mouthful of coffee onto the screen ... and Everett came running from the kitchen to see what's so funny. And laughed along with me on a second viewing.

  6. Loved the video. I thought this blog was going into a whole other area (sex) and laughed when I realized it wasn't. That is one area you will obviously never explore. :) You got me laughing so hard today but I recognize now it can be rather serious as you and your readers explained.

  7. I only gag at the dentist when they are trying to xray my back teeth or making an impression with all that stuff. Otherwise no gagging for me.

  8. Of course Kate, you are seeing my "acting gagging" not the real gagging! :-)
    Madge, glad I started your day with laughter. And yes, dentist arggghhh, thank heaven mine installed TV's to take the gaggy mind off of it!

  9. OMG! Sorry can't talk now I'm laughing to hard.

  10. Madge! You made me laugh so hard and turn bright red, and I'm at work!

  11. that video is it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I too have a gag response like Deb's (and as a kid my parents thought I was putting it on just so i didnt have to change the litterbox. Or clean up dog poop. Or cat throw up. BUT I WASN'T.

    I do however LOVE oysters.

    Also, I wished I hadn't watched this, nor posted about cat throw up, whilst I was eating my lunch. But, alas, not like I wasn't warned. :)

  12. Thanks Melissa, I did figure my gagging was good for something. Oh Gae I feel your pain. Hope the lunch stays down!!!

  13. I admit to being curious about trying raw oysters. I grew up on the coast and have eaten a bazillion oysters in this life, but they were all cooked. I like most (but not all) forms of sushi, so a raw oyster isn't really a stretch. And, after reading Anthony Bourdain's book, I added "try a raw oyster" to my bucket list. Sadly, fresh ones are not to be had this far inland.

    Did you ever manage to actually eat a raw oyster in a nonacting situation, Deb?

  14. Actually Rigel I don't even have to worry about it as I am allergic to seafood, so....phew!

  15. Allergic to seafood? Oh, how sad! :(

  16. Rigel, glad I had you laughing. Truly sex was the first thing I thought of. Hope her bedroom has a TV to help Deb through the "hard" parts. I am just rolling today on gag stories.

  17. Hope I am not offending anyone today. Just that kind of day.

  18. Offending us?! That's as funny as your sex-mistake off the top here, Madge! I say bring it on.

    Plus, we should probably have some fun with sex here anyway. I mean, explore it... um, I mean poke it about a bit. I mean ... um, shutting up now.

  19. Deb I know I was supposed to be focused on the gag thing but all I was thinking the whole time was that you are ridiculously lovely, even whilst gagging.
    What skin!

  20. OMG, I love this post. I havent seen the video yet (I cant at work), but I definitely will as soon as I get home. Mine is a PHYSICAL gag reflex -- toothbrushes, turtle necks, the top of my wetsuit, vitamins (and hair, dont get me started on hair)-- anything that touches my throat (inside or out) is fair game. and I also have physical memory -- so the THOUGHT of one of those things touching my throat will cause gagging too. I am so glad to know I'm not the only one. . .

  21. Madge we could not be less offended! In fact why didn't I think of the sex thing!!!??? Hollye, it cracked me up that you watched a video on gagging and came away with a sense of my lovely skin! But thanks for the compliment. Annmarie I love your list of gag makers! Fight the good fight my dear!

  22. I fell off my chair. For reals BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That video is too funny.

    I'm not TERRIBLY gaggish, but there are certain smells (like vomit) and a couple tastes (liver, lima beans) that will do it. Oysters I can do, but only doused in cocktail sauce (with a beer back), and I better not have to chew them. Also extremes of... like oozing sores and such... plain old blood, okay, but unnatural looking infection? ick.

  23. Omigosh, Annmarie!!! Touching my throat! NOOOOoooo!!! *shudders* I cannot have ANYTHING touch my throat. I haven't worn a turtleneck since my mom still bought my clothes, and I argued her tooth and nail over them back then. All top buttons must be unbuttoned. Most of my shirts are V-necks, and the ones that aren't are all stretched out from me tugging on the crew neck to pull it away from my throat! All my necklaces are long, at least below the notch where my clavicles meet over my sternum. (Chokers LITERALLY choke me!) My ex-husband knew my throat was completely off limits whilst, well, you know, kissing and touching places --- unless he wanted said activities interrupted by me choking and gasping for breath! In martial arts, oh damn. Choke holds? You don't even have to apply the hold. Just putting your hands/forearms to touching my throat is enough to take me out. So, that said, anyone who attacks my throat gets dropped. Hard. Painfully. I don't play about my throat. If you try to attack my throat, I will destroy you. It's not even a thought process. It's totally a defensive reaction.

    Touching my throat is more than a gagging thing. It literally closes off my airway. It's not a throw up thing, it's a can't breath thing. Touching my throat on the outside clamps me shut choking on the inside.

    Hate it.


    I feel you, Annmarie. *hugs*

  24. I am not one to gag at alot of things except for hair in my food. Now that makes me Gag. I have a weak stomach though ,always have,and guessing I always will. I get sick at the sight of nasty food,or things like that. Nothing makes me more sick on my stomach though like needles. I am fine with blood,but you show me a needle and I am almost on the floor. Not to long ago I went to donate blood and when they took they needle out I almost passed out just from the sight of it. I felt so week,but what can I do. So I am not sure which is worse gagging or having a weak stomach.

  25. OMG!!!! Deb I love you. Don't try and eat them like that. get them grilled wrapped in prosciutto next time.

    and I couldn't even look at that picture of worms you guys had up there. nope. talk about a gag fest.

  26. Hart you brought to mind new things to add to the gaggy. Boy what underbelly this subject has brought out in all of us. Rigel. Wow. You poor thing. Makes gagging seem just fine now. Note to self I will never so much as look at your throat. Yes Lyndsie hair in the food! How is it that you can be sooooooooooooooo hungry, find a hair and it's over. Megan thanks for the tip but even grilled I would still swell up and rash up!

  27. Snot, hot cat puke or my very large dog's diarrhea when he was dying of spleen cancer. Don't blame me, you started it!

  28. Cats, furballs, and vomit. Ugh.

    My son got accidental revenge on our furball puker one time about 3 or 4 years back. One Sunday afternoon (why do kids always get sick in the middle of the night or on a weekend?!?!?), kiddo was getting stomach pains and feeling sick. He projectile vomitted BBQ chicken and splattered our white, long haired cat bang on -- hosed down the cat's whole side. So, I lunged and grabbed at the cat before he could escape and spread vomit everywhere. Then, I'm running to the bathroom with cat and kid (kid puking all the way from bedroom, down hall to bathroom, and in bathroom) and trying to wash both up and settle both down.

    The puked up BBQ sauce dyed the cat's fur pink.

    Kiddo got sicker and sicker, and I ended up taking him to the ER that night because he was getting dehydrated. Our personal doc (a very dear friend, one of my Beloveds) was on ER duty that night. So, when we were wrapping things up, I said, "OK, I can ask you weird things." At that point, he just raised his eyebrows and started smirking. I explained to him what had happened and asked him, "How do I bleach the cat without poisoning him?" The doc just groaned and busted out laughing, "Oh man, bull's eye. That cat's gonna have PTSD." I said, "Yeah, I haven't seen him since he fled the bathtub a few hours ago. I know where he's hiding because I followed the water trail." He told me to either let the stain fade or wash the stained area with hydrogen peroxide.

    Oh yeah, and I had to give kiddo an enema. Direct quote: "Mom. Butt medicine. That's just wrong." I could only agree.

    It was a really gross 12 hours.

  29. BTW, y'all realize that this subject is just begging for me to tell the story I mentioned earlier about the stupid cat who ate the yard of ribbon, don't y'all?

  30. Oh Deb - I too am a major gagger. And as I age it's getting worse.

    Mine started thanks to my sister, 4.5 years my senior and an expert in torture. My mother used to pickle, can, preserve anything she could get her hands on. Apricots were a particular favourite - perhaps they were cheap and bountiful (in Winnipeg?), anyway she didn't remove the skin before preserving in the sugary liquid. The first time I tried to eat them the skin slid off and hit the back of my throat and I gagged everything back into the bowl. My sister thought that was the greatest thing she had ever witnessed. Being the torturous that she was decided to use the apricots as a tool of blackmail.

    She would find some nugget of information that I in my innocence believed would get me grounded and the only way to convince her not to blab to my parents would be to eat as many bowls of apricots that she chose. Tears running down my face, apricot skins choking me I would persevere.

    To this day, in my family, apricots are called "Gags" - that's their official name. My sister still pees her pants thinking about it.

    I, however, cannot eat anything remotely resembling a preserved apricot. Texture is of the utmost importance.

    I'm now gagging when I brush my teeth in the morning. Mornings are definitely my hyper sensitive gagalicious time. I've started to grind my teeth again in my sleep so should be high tailing my arse to get a bite plate. But that would be a disastrous gag filled adventure.

  31. Have to say that I'm a 14-year-veteran. Yep, I'm a preschool teacher (okay, maybe we're not allowed to call ourselves veterans, but anyway) - no gagging allowed. EVER. Well, except for oysters. Those things belong on another planet far, far away from here!

  32. erica, maybe when i've been teaching a whole 14 years and not the mere 11 i have been...i'll stop gagging when one of my students has an entire finger shoved up his nose. (i say his, cuz picturing it now, it usually is, every year.) yay! love this new blog! and (off topic) pillow talk, gone with the wind and serendipity top my fave movie list, too!(stopped off at the profile page before this one) christy

  33. Another thing that makes me gag is when I have to go to the doctor and they make me open my mouth and they check the back of my throat with that big stick thing. I have always hated that thing.. So nasty. Recently I have been sick so me not thinking, went to the doctor and of corse one of the test that they did was a strep test. I hate that test with all my might. To say the least it was not a good sight. I was gagging while the test was being done,and even after it was done. Lets just say I will think twice before getting that done again or ever. It was horrible. I would just rather have the sore throat than to have that gagging test again.

  34. I am normally fine, but just that once in awhile, I gag, and nothing can stop me. It happens so infrequently I haven't even found the triggers, but it does happen.

    But my worst experience was last month when I was getting my root canal done,and the dentist kept telling me not to gag- as though I had a say in it.

  35. What a gagalicous set of tales! Wow you guys. This is the first time I have been writing my response to your responses gagging and laughing at the same time. Interesting combo to be sure.

  36. Lyndsie -

    It is imperative that if you have strep throat, you get a correct diagnosis and the proper antibiotics. I know that giant q-tip test is awful, but strep throat left unchecked can progress to rheumatic fever. Among other very nasty signs and symptoms, rheumatic fever can leave you with lasting cardiac problems.

  37. Thanks Rigel,I know I needed that test done,but it is just so bad,and so nasty.

  38. I used to gag with the stick from the doctor as well and then I learned how to open my mouth wide enough. Never needed the stick again. I was probably around five when I could do it with no stick. Such fun reading everyone's stories.


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