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Glen Allen, VA 23060

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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad

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Not Embarrassed

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The Napkin Notes Blog

Not Embarrassed

WGarth Callaghan

I am not even embarrassed about throwing up in public anymore. 

I think I remember the first time. I was in first or second grade. My school allowed Catholics to leave once a week for off-site religious education. Each Tuesday, one of the nuns would dutifully escort a grade or two at a time down Church Street. We’d walk. The school was only 0.1 mile from St. Martin’s Church. We’d have our religious ed time in the church basement and then head back to school. 

I remember not feeling well one Tuesday in winter.  I told Sister Mary Agnes my stomach hurt. Sister Mary Agnes was a tough as nails nun. She didn’t smile a lot. She didn’t really listen to me despite my pleas. I managed to get through the rest of the class, but on the walk back to school, it happened. 

Whatever was in my stomach was coming out and there was nothing I could do to stop it. And it was right in front of one of my best friend’s, Scott Carpenter, house. It was winter. To make matters worse, I could only imagine my throw up being frozen to the ground for months ahead, in front of my best friend’s house. Sheesh! 

It’s happened more than a few times since I started treatment two years ago. I don’t have much warning. If I am lucky, I have about 30 seconds to find a bathroom or a trashcan. 
Monday was another first for me. 

I started working out about a month ago. I haven’t shared this here. I wanted it to be a surprise once I hit my goals. I am lifting weights with a few goals in mind: 1) stop my weight loss; 2) rebuild stamina and energy; and 3) stop feeling sick and tired. I plan on gaining 10 pounds of lean muscle. In order to do that, I also have to increase my daily caloric intake by 500 kcals a day. That is the most difficult part of this project. 

Mom questioned whether or not I should be working out. My response was simple, “What’s the worst that could happen? My pallbearers will have to work a bit harder!” 

Monday was a normal gym day. I had spent all day in bed Sunday because I had thrown up twice first thing in the morning. I have actually had a really rough two weeks. But I made a commitment to be in the gym Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I wasn’t going to miss it. 

I was working out my upper body. I was about 80% finished and I started to feel weird. Yup, that kind of weird. I stepped away from the machine I was using and paced a bit. I was nervously looking for the closest trashcan. I knew I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. 

My stomach was emptied. In the middle of the gym. And I wasn’t one bit embarrassed. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t embarrassed. 

Someone handed me a few paper towels. I cleaned myself up and let someone know what happened. 

And do you know what I did then? 

I finished my damn workout because a little bit of throw up wasn’t going to get me off track. 

Thank you for being part of our journey. 

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