The Vomit Contingency Plan

2015-06-01 the vomit contingency plan

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about the vomit contingency plan. I guess I should start by actually defining what that means, and I’m going to do that by telling you the story from when I was in Amsterdam.

For one reason or another I ended up incredibly nauseated on a Tuesday afternoon (it may or may not have something to do with a large quantity of wine the night before, a chocolate-covered stroopwafel, and chugging a glass of Heineken). Once I realized exactly how awful I was feeling we started to make our way back towards the AirBnB, a 16-minute walk.

Those were some of the longest sixteen minutes of my life. Sure, I felt like I was going to be sick, but that’s not what was making it such a stressful experience. What was making it such a stressful experience was the fact that I didn’t have a vomit contingency plan. You see, Amsterdam is approximately the cleanest city I’ve ever been in. There’s no trash on the ground; no litter; no disheveled, makeshift recently slept-in beds shoved into nooks and crannies of the city streets. And all the trashcans had covers over them. Where exactly was I going to get sick if I had to get sick? Sure, I was carrying a bag, but there was a $2200 camera inside of there, along with my passport, my wallet, and all of my glasses. I had no contingency plan. Lucky for me, (and the boy. and Amsterdam.) I made it back in time.

Here’s an example of creating vomit contingency plans the right way (but not executed). On a recent drive down to Ocean City, Maryland I had to work on my laptop the entire time, that’s about a 3-hour trip. I was incredibly nervous about getting sick in the car, but I didn’t exactly see another option for completing the work. I (half-)jokingly mentioned something about this to the person driving me and completely matter-of-factly looked at me and said: well, there’s your air controls if you need more of it, there’s your button to put the window down if you need to, and we can always pull over if we need to, no problem. All of a sudden I felt a million times better. Just knowing that I had a contingency plan (and that the driver was completely on board with it) made it so I didn’t feel sick of a second on the car ride down (that said, her awesome driving and her lovely car named Gigi (a German car with a French name because she likes to ride with her top down) definitely helped a little bit too.

So here’s what I challenge you to do. Try to figure out your vomit contingency plan, for whatever situation you’re feeling nervous about. Why are you actually nervous about your upcoming trip? Is it because you can’t speak the language? You’ve never navigated a public transportation system before? Why are you actually nervous about your upcoming exam? Maybe it doesn’t have to do with knowing the information, maybe it has to do with making sure you find the right classroom to take the exam and not running out of pencils before the test is over.

If you prepare yourself for the situations that you need to handle next, I promise, you will feel a million times better about them. What are some of your biggest worries right now? Can you see a spot where you can prepare for something ahead of time and stop worrying a little bit about it?

PS. Sorry for using the word vomit so much.

PPS. If you’re prone to panic attacks and want to know a little bit more about what I do to mitigate what happens when I get one, click here.

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  • you’re amazing and this whole post is awesome. i’m a vertigo-prone, anxiety attack-prone gal and i love the way you tied it all together with having a plan and getting others on board so that you can feel safe and secure should things go south.

    • Awww, thank you!! Right? Having a plan makes everything infinitely better.

  • It’s the little things man. I don’t get nervous but I get sick pretty easily, luckily for me I know what sets it off, and how to prevent it, but I totally think if it’s nervousness that gets you this whole plan of attack thing would def. help.

    • So, so true. And yes, nervousness is what sets off 90% if not all of my panic attacks. And it always has to do with logistics.

  • Martine

    I miiiiight have had to make a friend pull over to the side of the road while on an adventure in Northeast Philly to find my phone which I drunkenly left in a cab the night before. After vomiting, I realized we pulled over in front of a church. Needless to say, I am totally pro vomit plan and love your post!

    • Yeah, I’ve got a story pretty similiar to that one as well. Philadelphia & Amsterdam are pretty different though, Philly’s just a litttttle dirtier 🙂

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