“My son is 7 years old, and whenever something exciting happens, he throws up. We’re supposed to go to the amusement park today if the weather clears up, and he’s afraid — and so am I — that if we go, he’ll throw up while we’re there.
“I don’t know what to do anymore. On the first day of school, he throws up. On the last day of school, he throws up. Waiting in line for a roller coaster, he throws up. If he gets really happy for any reason, he throws up. And he throws up because he throws up and worries that he’s going to throw up again.
“Is there anything I can give him so he stops throwing up?”
Straight Face held firmly in place — with superhuman effort — I stopped to think about the problem.*
And lest you think me an insensitive clod, I can assure you that I did (and still do) feel awful for this kid. I wonder what his home life is like. I wonder if he’s chemically imbalanced. I wonder if it’s a phase he’ll grow out of. I wonder how to help him in the short term, today, hopefully without robbing him entirely of the excitement that an amusement park brings. I wonder about abuse, too. I wonder if this behavior is conditioned in some way, and if it might be self-reinforcing, not unlike that destructive positive feedback loop that plagues those with panic disorder. I wonder if he’ll grow up with anxiety problems. I wonder if he’ll end up a well-adjusted adult, hopefully without the need to be on long-term psych meds.
Most of all, right now, I hope mom has a talk with the pediatrician about it.
Given that my options are severely limited by a lack of prescribing powers, the best solution OTC would be Benadryl to blunt the edge, with the side effect of probably making him very sleepy. Not optimal, for sure, but better than puking before you get on the ride, no? Some would think Emetrol, maybe, but that’s a poor solution because that’s not going after the actual problem. If the child is overexcited, better to take that down a notch than merely cover the side effects of being in that condition in the first place.
What do you guys think? What would you have done?
* When I was in junior high, my friends and I used to talk about the worst, most absurd “super power” to have. We decided it would be the superhuman ability to crap your pants every time you got excited. “Haha! Yay!… ohhhh….” This is where I coined the phrase “My bowels are aquiver with excitement.”
I’d say this child’s difficulty ranks right up there…