You know your day is off to a rough start when your first phone call of the morning is to Poison Control. And you are calling for yourself. And you are a grownup.
"I drank a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide," I stammered, shaking, sure I was going to die right there in my bathroom, whereupon everyone would discover not only that I haven't figured out how to adequately clean grout but also what I look like naked. I thought about writing an apology to my children in eyeliner on the mirror.
"Dear girls, I am sorry I am such a fuck-up that I accidentally drank peroxide this morning, but we had a good run while it lasted. Also, sorry for the F-bomb. Please put a quarter in the swear jar for me. The one I've been meaning to start ever since I saw it on Pinterest. Also, call 911 if I am still twitching and then clean this grout before anyone else gets here, in case I survive the self-poisoning but then die of shame. Love, Mom."
"Do you know what concentration?" the lovely and all too calm Poison Control person asked.
I squinted at the bottle through my delirium. "3%"
"That's very dilute, and this is a very common exposure," she assured me. "We actually give this to dogs if we need to induce vomiting!"
My brain was flooded with relief before doing a quick little click-click-click-DING! that ended with the word "vomit."
"So I'm going to throw up?" I asked.
"Well, we don't WANT you to throw up," she said, which seemed like an odd disclaimer but maybe you get a little sensitive if a good part of your job is helping people induce vomiting. "But you might throw up."
"But other than that, I'll be fine?"
"Yes, you'll be fine. But you might throw up," she reiterated. "Do you know how peroxide bubbles on a cut? That's what it's doing in your stomach right now."
"Got it," I really didn't want to hear any more.
"So it's just in there bubbling away, and that might make you throw up. But if you do throw up, it will be within the next hour, not like days from now."
I thanked her, hung up, and re-arranged my Saturday morning schedule to include proximity to a toilet for at least 60 minutes. Then I spent the next 57 minutes successfully fighting the urge to vomit...
The peroxide won.
The pressing question, of course, is HTF I managed this. And there's a totally reasonable explanation. Last night, before bed, I soaked my dental night guard in a glass with some peroxide (roughly 1/4 cup of 3%, in case you're playing along at home). Then, after I removed the night guard from the glass and went on about my evening ablutions, I thought to myself you'd better dump that out so you don't mistake it for water in the morning.
And, apparently, that's as far as I got.
This morning I stumbled bleary-eyed into the bathroom, shook a Synthroid into my hand, grabbed the glass of water sitting on the counter, and knocked it back. Although it looked like water, it burned like peroxide, and I instantly realized my mistake.
I think this is an example of what my therapist, a big fan of "recovery language," calls "a God thing." Meaning, as near as I can tell, something intended to be a "sign" or a "lesson." And while (if memory serves) the God of Abraham and Isaac seemed to do His "thing" through locusts and floods, in my experience the God of single moms apparently prefers to work Her magic via bodily functions. I suppose it's a good trade, all things considered; my first born is still safe.
So what exactly is "the God thing" in this case? I think it was a sharp wake up call to slow my ass down and pay attention. Recently my friend Karen and I have been discussing the perils of ignoring "The Voice" (not the television show). The Voice is the wisdom within you that prods you in the direction of better decisions...but usually these better decisions turn out to be less palatable in the short term, which is why you need prodding in the first place. The Voice tells you not to try to anesthetize your sorrows through binge-shopping or binge-eating or binge-whatever. The Voice nudges you when a relationship is cratering and you'd prefer not to notice. The Voice whispers in your ear when your job is no longer a good fit. The Voice also, on occasion, lets you know when you're being an insensitive ass, or a distracted parent, or maybe just lazy. And--apparently--to toss out the damn peroxide before you groggily chug it the next morning.
So Karen and I have a pact to listen to The Voice. And right now it's telling me there is no good picture to include with this blog post, but I know that no one reads a post without pictures, so...
If you need me, I'll be in the bathroom.