Under the Weather

Then, there’s “sick as a dog,” or “not feeling so hot.”  Have you been there, done that a time or two in your life?

I think it’s kind of ironic that the idiom, “under the weather,” is directly related to seasickness.  I’ve certainly not had every kind of sickness, but I can say from experience that seasickness is real, my friends.

It’s been many years now since we traveled by major ocean liner across the Atlantic to Europe.  With all the planning and preparation and packing light and smart, I didn’t once consider seasickness pills.  I was convinced I wouldn’t need them.

I arrogantly, or maybe naively thought that I had the whole seasickness thing whipped as we cruised out of New York harbor along the Hudson River toward the Atlantic.  “This is quite lovely,” I thought as we gazed out of some windows in one of many casual dining rooms aboard the QEII, at the diminishing lights of New York City.

So much for my cocky thoughts that “this is a modern ocean liner with ballasts to beat the band.”  Or, “I have a sturdy constitution, I never get sick.”  After all, this was the 21st century and I wouldn’t be huddled amongst my fellow sojourners, packed like sardines in the hull or sole or whatever the “floor” is called on The Mayflower.

Incidentally, I didn’t see one “angry” wave either to or fro on our cruise.  It was a smooth trip.  In fact, I spent quite a bit of time assuaging the potential effects of gargantuan food offerings aboard the ship, in my Jackie Kennedy headscarf, walking the outer decks, never spotting nasty weather.

But as memory serves, it was about ten o’clock, the first night out, when “sick as a dog” hit me in a freakishly sudden way.  It caught me totally off guard.  I may have vomited twice in my entire life.  However, I have felt like throwing up countless times and personally I think that counts.  Vertigo counts too; you know it if you’ve ever experienced it.

Supposedly back in the day, when a sailor was feeling seasick, he would be sent below deck so he could get away from being “under the harsh weather.”  First noted in print in 1835, the phrase, “under the weather,” refers more specifically to being “under the weather bow,” the bow being the part of the boat where all the nasty weather blows.

In my experience, there was nowhere on that boat where I could get away from being under the weather.  I wanted, not a rescue boat, a doctor, a pill, or any human being.  I wanted a helicopter, now!

“Sick as a dog,” comes from the 1700s when dogs as well as rats were identified as having spread the plague, so dogs were associated with anything undesirable.  Thankfully we’re not living in the 18th century anymore, Dorothy.

Nonetheless, I’ve been “sick as a dog,” from stuff that is not even close to the plague.  But under the weight of certain sicknesses, it felt to me that death would be a relief.

I haven’t experienced much sickness in my life, for which I’m exceedingly grateful.  And, feeling “under the weather,” doesn’t really rate when you have that all-over feeling of sweeping nausea, queasiness, and total inability to function associated with discomfort in any and every bodily position.

Laying down feels like you might drown in your own brain.  Standing up is near-impossible.  If you think walking on a moving train is rough, try walking or moving, or sleeping, or resting, while under the influence of seasickness-like symptoms.

You’ve surely heard the saying, “misery loves company?”  In a state of seasickness, stomach flu, gallbladder pain, various forms of vertigo, and likely many other conditions with which I have no personal experience, misery doesn’t even come close to loving company.  Can you say, “leave me alone.”    

If someone says, “I’m feeling under the weather today, I think I’ll take a sick day,” you figure, oh well, they’re feeling a little off or not up to par.  You don’t concern yourself too much when somebody says they’re “under the weather,” because it’s minor and recoverable in a minute’s time.

I’m told that “par,” is the score that is expected in a golf game.  Under par, in golf means exceptionally good; but in life, it’s not so much.  But since par is associated with a game and is not as serious as the game of life, “feeling under par” is a nuisance more than anything, right?     

Who among us in today’s tech world hasn’t consulted “Dr. Google,” when we’ve noticed something amiss in our bodies?   It might not be big as in the line, “it’s not a tumor,” from “Kindergarten Cop,” but neither is it right or normal, for us.

We all feel “under the weather” at times.  Remember that an ingrown toenail hurts.  An unusual spot on our skin is concerning.  A headache is distracting.  A sharp, dull, lingering pain in this whatsit or that thingamajig can be distressing.  Let’s all exercise some compassion for the folks around us who might be sitting under the weather bow of the boat.      

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