Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hiccups And The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Status Update: using a lighter brew this time around. Paradoxically, this means a more heavily-caffeinated coffee. The dark stuff has a ton of flavor, which is why I usually drink it, but the heavy roasting also burns out some of the caffeine content. This is fine with me. Caffeine, beyond a certain point, just makes me jittery and gives me a mid-morning crash. This lighter bag of beans has a great flavor to it. Not too dark, not too light, but after a pot, I'm a shivering wreck. I think it's definitely going to be a special occasions sort of thing, for days in which I need superpowers or the ability to vibrate through walls like Silver Age Flash.

Surgery, even of the light and low impact variety--such as tooth removal--is an odd and complicated process. You never really know what to expect. I think being a doctor must be one of the most nerve-wracking professions in the world, because human beings are complex on a level which makes the most complicated precision Swiss watches look like hammers.

If computers were built like the human body, pressing the A key would cause the screen to fill with butterflies instead of printing the letter A. The space bar would cause pudding to ooze out the speakers. What I'm saying is, biology is weird and a few billion years of impartial ad hoc evolution will produce results which aren't always intuitive. If Intelligent Design is a thing, then God must be rather whimsical and prone to resolving decisions via coin toss and dart throwing.

In my case, I had my last two wisdom teeth pulled on a Monday a few weeks ago. What was the most immediate after-effect on Tuesday? You'd expect weakness, pain, maybe the usual effects of inflammation and blood loss. Perhaps a high level of fatigue, wobbliness and a grinding and persistent headache. You would be incorrect. The biggest problem I had was hiccups.

Normally, I get hiccups only in one situation: eating spicy foods. Since I grew up mainlining tex-mex, my bar for what is considered a "spicy food" is so high that, living in Michigan as I do, I very rarely exceed the threshold for food-induced hiccup-dom. It requires a small city worth of Scovilles or curry of a potence and concentration which would suggest it was personally weaponized by the Rajah as a genocidal tool against the invading British armies.

The hiccups, once they come, stick around for only a brief period of time and then leave. Holding my breath is the usual cure, although I suspect doing so doesn't speed their departure much. I've found the same thing happens with unwelcome visitors and relatives as well.

Tuesday morning, I got the hiccups from bending over in the shower to pick up the shampoo. They stuck around for an hour. Then I made the mistake of sitting down too suddenly at work. I coughed while drinking a glass of water that afternoon. I stepped outside and the sunlight was kind of bright, causing another attack. All told, I had six or seven separate attacks that day. Maybe eight, depending on what system of math you are using to count them. Conversations with friends and coworkers typically went like this: "I'm *hick* sorry, Steve that your *hick* mother ate your *hick* cat. My *hick* condolences. Also, gross."

Hiccups are distinctly unpleasant. They don't cause pain or even much discomfort. What I hate about them is more of an existential thing: it's your body telling you that no, you aren't really the driver in this meat-truck you call your physical vessel. The reminders come regularly, but not by any clock. You can think you are Scott-free, and then blam! Here's another one. If you are in public, it's accompanied by people laughing at you, because hiccups are a very silly noise. You wouldn't want to have a hiccup attack if you were the President, for example.

So, Tuesday was something of my own hiccup Vietnam. Luckily, I remembered all of the supposed cures and tested them in the hell-fires of my hiccup blood-bath. Holding my breath? Ineffective. Scared by a friend? I don't have any scary friends (which probably means I am the scary friend). Breath into a paper bag? No dice. Slowly drink a cold glass of water? 90% effective. Who knew?

And that's what's kind of awesome about life in general. Just the constant sense of not knowing exactly what's going to happen as fall-out from mundane decisions. It's why I tend to do weird stuff occasionally and say yes to the occasional odd-ball adventure. Although, come to think of it, not lately because winter kinda sucks and makes me want to hibernate.

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