I got queasy again, on what started out to be another great day of lobster fishing. It made me sad. I’m still not sure why it happened - the swells just weren’t that big. Plus, it’s been nearly a year since my stomach last got this upset from motion sickness, so it caught me by surprise. Not that I think I’m some sort of big shot fisherman who won’t ever feel the effects of seasickness. Just that I’ve been out on the sea a few times since first feeling the roll of the ocean, and everything seemed to be fine. So I’d begun to believe I had it beat, but today I learned otherwise.
It always begins in my noggin, where it resembles the start of a migraine headache. Then I sense soreness in my neck and a nauseous feeling in my stomach. I don’t right away think I’m going to throw my breakfast back but, history tells me that what I am experiencing could easily escalate. In the meantime, I’ve got a mental checklist I need to work with if I have any hope of keeping my discomfort contained.
The first rule of queasiness, for me, has always been to do whatever I possibly can, to not let the skipper know that I’m hurting. Especially when my expectation of myself is that I do my share of the work required to pull the day’s pots. But this skipper knows too much about both the sway of the sea, and me. He knows I’m not normally so quiet, nor is it my style to sit down so much. He’s figured out that I like to be ready to lend a hand when the job requires it, and that today I was finding it difficult to do so. So nothing about anything felt good. Not only was my body rebelling, but my pride was hurting too, because I was finding it hard to pick up the slack that this short-handed ship needed me to. But if it wasn’t the swells that were making me queasy, what was upsetting my stomach?
The fog, I’ve concluded – black thick fog, as they call it around here. But I wasn’t clear why. So, after a brief internet search, the following is what I’ve decided, thanks to the good people at Wikipedia:
There is a part of our brain that is responsible for detecting differences between what our body feels, and our eyes see. And there is another part of our brain responsible for making us vomit when poisons are detected. So when my brain senses movement but my eyes say that everything is still – like when I’m looking down, banding lobsters or rebuilding bait bags, at the same time that the boat bobs – my brain concludes that my eyes are hallucinating, and then determines that the hallucination is occurring because there is poison in me - poison that needs to be purged by puking. All of which is worse when conditions are foggy, because the heavy fog reduces my view, thus stopping my brain from collecting the additional detail it needs, to compensate for the confusion. Some people’s brains never overcome these obstacles, while others adjust over time. My experiences suggest I’m adjusting, just slower than I’d hoped for. Or perhaps that’s only wishful thinking.
Good luck to all who encounter the uncomfortable feeling that occurs, when queasiness ruins what started out to be a great day.