Aug 2, 2013

Vomit and other catastrophes

by Michelle Douglas

Earlier this week I had a bout of food poisoning. Now I won’t entertain you with the gruesome details—there is such a thing as too much information. ;-) It does mean, however, that I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with health and sickness this week.

Hence, I’ve been pondering those times in my life when I felt I was at death’s door. Having a bad reaction to the anaesthetic when I had my tonsils out at was twelve was no picnic, but I think chicken pox at sixteen trumps it. The worst accident I ever had was when I worked part-time in a catering firm whilst at university. I dropped a hundred cup coffee pot of near-boiling coffee all over my feet. It wasn’t pretty.

I don’t write medical romances, so I don’t need to find a stream of interesting medical conditions that will reveal my heroine and hero’s expertise, but illnesses and accidents are a part of life and will, therefore, on occasion make it into my stories. A quick scan of my books reveals the various nasties I’ve inflicted upon my characters—a chest infection, a kidney infection, a miscarriage, breast cancer, ticks, two rather inelegant falls and a couple of tummy upsets.

To be honest, I've been incredibly lucky. I am, as a general rule, disgustingly healthy. Which, of course, means I take my health for granted. Today I am VERY grateful for how well, healthy and strong I feel. I want to keep feeling grateful for this, but I suspect health is like the weather—when it’s neither too hot nor too cold it’s not really something we think about.

Of course, there is now going to be a character in my future who gets food poisoning (the poor thing—yes, writers are sometimes evil). For a writer, though, every experience can become fodder for their fiction. It’s the proverbial silver lining (and a distraction if nothing else). I’ve been keeping notes about my affliction. After all, one never knows when such details might be needed in a story. ;-)

So, I would love for you to tell me the most interesting sickness and/or accident you’ve had. Who knows, it could provide inspiration for my next book. And for playing, I’ll give away one of my books with an illness and/or accident in it to one lucky commenter. :-)

Poor Josie is one such victim in The Loner’s Guarded Heart out this month in the UK anthology Claimed by the Rebel.


  1. Michelle, what an eye-catching title for a post! Sorry, but you made me smile.

    I'm smiling too about the rerelease of 'The Loner's Guarded Heart'. I loved that story. I wish I were reading it again for the very first time.

    Most interesting illness? Breaking my arm after being bucked off a horse at age 12 was interesting. I think though that one of the most memorable was getting sick the first time I visited Egypt. Like you I won't give details but suffice to say I never think of long train journeys without remembering it. My most vivid memory of the sound and light show at Karnak temple was of a gorgeous romantic scene - moonlight and a sprinkling of stars, a tall man in a turban beneath a palm tree on a rise that looked like a sand dune behind which just had to be his arab stallion and exotic encampment. He was, instead, the guardian of the toilets. I paused on my dash there just long enough to imprint the scene on my mind.

  2. LOL, Annie, I did find the title to the post oddly...winsome. ;-) And thank you for your kind words about my Loner. I do have a soft spot for that story.

    Ouch on breaking your arm! My sister broke her arm by falling off a horse (rather than being bucked off) and she's been afraid of them ever since. BUT, your Egyptian experience is hard to top. You poor thing!!! But, the moonlight, the palm tree, the sand dune and the tall man in a all made my mouth water until I discovered exactly what it was he was guarding. Still, it's a gorgeous image. No wonder you write such mouthwatering sheikhs.

  3. Commiserations on the food poisoning, Michelle. Have had a couple of good doses of that during my life and it's not pretty, is it?
    But apart from that and the odd flu I've been very fortunate to be well and healthy.
    I can tell you though it is no fun travelling with a child who has the D&V's (as we medical peeps call em) I know every public toilet in Melbournes CBD - intimately!

  4. Oh, no, Amy, that would be dreadful -- but your poor child! Awful for them, awful for you.

    Very good news that you've been healthy, though. Especially considering the profession you work in (other than your romance writing that is). I have a friend who is an infant school teacher with a very poor immune system and she picks up everything her classroom children bring in. Makes me shudder just to think of it.

  5. Love the eye-catching title for this blog, Michelle.
    I'm disgustingly healthy too, and not complaining. But at age six I was catapulted through a car windscreen in a car versus truck incident. My best recollection was the money I made from the surgeons and nurses who put me back together. I'd lost a few teeth in the bang and they kindly left shillings under my pillow. Then first day back at school I was banned from the jungle gym which meant the moment mum drove away I was climbing on it. Kids, eh?

  6. Hi Michelle - I was smiling as I read your post and the comments because everyone seems so healthy...but I think I'm one of those people gets things or falls and trips over everything. Thankfully I've had numerous falls off my horses but no broken bones other than when my horse smacked me in the face with his nose and I got two black eyes. Put my back out on an Abdoer (bought it off a late night TV advert and put it together myself...big mistake. First time I used it my back pinged and I was done for and had three weeks off work)Allergic reaction to kiwi fruit and face looked over-botoxed for a week. Electrocuted 3 times (don't ask)and almost choked on bacon once. But one of the worst things was chicken pox at 30! Ghastly.
    There's a pattern...I'm a klutz.
    Great post :)

  7. Great title, Michelle! (((hugs))) on the food poisoning - it's sooo not nice!

    I'm with Helen - I'm a klutz too! Never been electrocuted though - yow, that sounds unpleasant!

    I think on the whole I've been pretty lucky with my accidents. For all the falls of horses I only broke my arm once - mostly it was just severely bruise pride... and some severely bruised other bits! LOL

    I did rupture my Archilles tendon which an operation and then two months in plaster and three months on crutches. I'm sensitive to morphine which means I'm always sick, sick, sick whenever I've needed to have an operation.

  8. I had food poisoning once. I seriously thought I was going to die. The pain was horrific. The other symptoms were unpleasant, to say the least. I lived on boiled potato for a week.

  9. Sue, YOU WENT THROUGH THE WINDSCREEN OF A CAR!!! OMG! Wow! There doesn't seem to be much to say after a statement like that. ;-) Glad you're disgustingly healthy now. :-)

  10. Helen, I still have very vivid memories of how sick I felt with chicken pox, but 30 would've been even worse. You poor thing. :-(

    Ahem, electrocuted 3 times? Spill, woman! You can't leave it at that. ;-)

  11. Oh, Sharon, I hear you on the bruised pride. I had that happen more than once on a horse. But that makes 2 broken arms from a horse and 2 black eyes. LOL, makes me wonder why teenage girls have such a thing for them.

    Ouch on the Achilles. And a bigger ouch on the bad reaction to morphine. That would be really dreadful.

  12. Oh, Mary, you poor thing! My bout was minor in comparison -- short but fierce and I'm feeling almost back to normal today. Mind you, I'm not going to forget it in a hurry.

  13. I've had a couple of bad events but the worst was probably when after having my first child at 33 I felt like I was having a heart attack and then bouts of nausea and extreme pain. I put off going to the doctor but when it started lasting 3 days instead of just hours, I went. In all it took 3 months and a couple of doctors. First said it was in my head because I just had a baby. Then I was told maybe ulcers. So after having that tool put down my throat (just local so was awake ugh) and then a sonogram - why they didn't start with that is beyond me) I was sent straight to the hospital with an acute gallbladder. Apparently since I wasn't 40, fair or fat they didn't think it could be that originally. I have a horrible scar because this was just before the new technology. The worse part of the whole mess was it interfered with my trying to nurse.

    Hope you feel a lot better now!

  14. Catslady,I had my first baby at 35 & my 2nd at 42! Sadly, with 2 miscarriages in between. My babies are almost 21 & 14. Eek! I have been relatively lucky, healthwise. A few female things that I would rather not talk about.

  15. I sympathize with you on the effects of food poisoning. I was so sick and could not even think about salmon for years afterward.

    I had scarlet fever one summer when I was a child and had to spend many days in a hot bedroom listening to the neighborhood kids playing outside. Not fun at all.

    Fell down a fight of stairs in my twenties and got a hair line fracture on the bridge of my nose. It stills acts as a barometer, 50 years later. I can tell when I go from a low pressure zone to a high pressure zone. I fell out of the car when I was 4 or 5 and suffered a nice size cut on the back of my head. I've also fallen and sprained an ankle. My latest was tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and cutting a gash on my left eyebrow. The hardest part about that accident was getting all the health people to believe that my poor husband wasn't beating me. After all who trips over a crack in the sidewalk?

  16. Oh, Catslady, you have my heartfelt sympathy. I've heard gall pain is truly terrible. But to be told the pain is in your head! Glad they did discover what was wrong and that the episode is now behind you.

  17. Sharlene, it sounds as if your pregnancies must've been fraught! Though, I bet your 21 and 14 year olds have been worth it. :-)

  18. Scarlet fever sounds dreadful, Kaelee! And it's so hard being confined to the house as a child.

    Oh, dear, you sound a bit accident prone! Do you hate the sight of blood? I'm a klutz, but I've been lucky escaping with nothing worse than scrapes and bruises (if we discount that coffee pot).

  19. Michelle, you poor thing. Food poisoning is the pits. Glad you can use it for a character though. :)

    Della, the heroine in my October book, Countering His Claim, had an awful experience - she was mugged and left for dead, and now has some pretty horrible scarring. Poor thing - I hated doing it to her, but Luke is great with her about it. A little reward for all I put her through. ;)

  20. Ooh, poor Della! What a terrifying experience that would be, but I'm thinking she probably finds ample consolation in Luke. We truly can put our poor characters through the wringer sometimes, can't we?

  21. Drumroll please...

    I put all the names into my trusty trifle dish and the winner is...


    Congratulations, Catslady. :-) Email me at michelle (at) michelle - douglas . com with the title od a backlist book of mine that you'd like and your postal address and I'll pop it in the mail for you.

    Thanks everyone for dropping by!

  22. Thanks so much - I'll do that now :)