Travelling with emetophobia can be brutal, and since having hyperemesis gravidarum, emetophobia is a real problem for me. When we travel in the US, it’s not so bad. You don’t have to worry so much about drinking the water or not having the right enzymes to digest the cheese. Stuff like that. Japan was not an issue at all. Japan is so clean you could probably eat off the street and not get sick. It was so clean that we could do stuff like eat food from street vendors outside the temples without much concern.
Latin America, not so much. You can’t drink the tap water, and they don’t have the same health regulations for food vendors. I managed okay in Nicaragua. That was before the emetophobia really settled in and got comfortable in my head. Ecuador was pretty rough.
I started having major food aversions in Ecuador. I think I would have been okay, had I not gone to the grocery store with my mother-in-law and seen the crate of frozen turkeys just sitting out by the big double-doors leading to the outside. Having just given a presentation at work on food safety, I was horrified. I could practically see the bacteria crawling across it. I imagined puddles of turkey juice settling onto the floor. I didn’t eat much that day.
I spent a lot of the trip fighting off panic. It was pretty rough. I was not able to enjoy several of my favorite foods. I had to force down my mother-in-law’s phenomenal ceviche, which is ridiculous because the shrimp are grown and harvested by my father-in-law so I know exactly where these shrimp come from and I know that they’re unbelievably fresh and packaged and handled safely. Safer even than the US. It’s also ridiculous because they’re the cleanest people I know. My mother-in-law’s nickname is Mrs. Clean. She mops her floors daily. She keeps the cleanest house I’ve ever been in.
I generally will eat just about anything. I love trying new foods, as evidenced by my willingness to eat octopus stuffed doughnuts outside Asakusa temple in Tokyo.
This emetophobia, though, has put the kibosh on that. Now, I see restaurants or food vendors and all I can imagine is warm refrigerators and putting cooked meat back on plates that held raw meat and chopping veggies on the raw chicken cutting board. All I can imagine is salmonella hell.
The plane rides were rough too, particularly coming back. I always get a little woozy on airplanes. The air is stuffy, they move around a little. No big deal though. These days, when the smell of the plane hits my nostrils, I immediately have to start fighting the panic.
On the way back–Guayaquil to Miami–there was a baby a few seats in front of us who kept having coughing fits. I kept imagining I was hearing retching noises. That’s a new one on me. Usually it’s just me throwing up that’s a problem. I kept imagining that I felt nauseated. When we were landing in LAX, I actually had to talk myself down from an actual panic attack. You know, you start breathing fast and your brain starts going around in circles. I felt like I would be sick. I felt trapped. I felt like I couldn’t breath or get out. I had to close my eyes, clamp my mouth shut, consciously slow my breathing, and talk myself down.
I think the emetophobia is getting worse. Maybe it is time to start dealing with it. Frankly, though we don’t have any travel planned, the thought of getting onto an airplane makes me feel extraordinarily uncomfortable.
This is the place where I usually start giving tips and pointers on dealing with things. I don’t have any tips for dealing with this. I’m at the point where I need to suck it up, make some time, and call my doctor to get a recommendation on a good therapist. From what I gather, emetophobia is pretty difficult to deal with. I am absolutely not interested in doing any kind of exposure therapy. Hopefully my doctor will have some good information for me.
Anyone know how to deal with this kind of thing when you travel? I mean aside from travelling with a whole bunch of Zofran.