Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The perils of over-eating...

We just returned home from a gluttonous 4-day Christmas celebration in Manitoba.  A fairly solid hint that you've had enough?  You're experiencing violent kicks from deep within your belly. And you're not pregnant.

I'm going to have to break this down in bullet form...at this point, my comatose carb-damaged brain will not allow anything more elaborate. Top 10 signs you're at, or have recently been to, a Van de Velde family gathering:
  • There are 50+ people milling around, all of whom you're related to, although you'd be pressed to find one person who can assign the appropriate age and name to each person. My mom, if given a moment of rest and silence, could likely pull it off. But that'd be it. Most of us would like to blame our shitty memory on alcohol consumption, when really, we've simply tossed in the towel when it comes to keeping track of who has sired what child, never mind in what year. It's a mathematical nightmare.
  • With much trepidation, we reinstated the wrap something from around the house you don't use rule for the adult gift exchange (for full details of the initial disaster, click here The gift of the rooster and two hens...) In the full spirit of giving, everyone is truly terrified of picking a gift one of my brothers has brought. Therefore much attention is paid to who is carrying what gifts into the house; hugs come later. Much, much later. Conversely, there's no greater sight than one of my brothers sitting there, fuming, having just opened a twice re-gifted cuckoo clock.
  • Being a Godmother to some, I choose gifts with special care and attention for these adorable loved ones. Although even I have to admit, giving your 14-year old niece a packet of Dora panties is an awkward, albeit honest, mistake. Really, where did the last 10 years go?
  • The kids rip through the presents like a school of piranhas; paper, teeth and skin flying everywhere. I wouldn't recommend reaching into that feeding frenzy for anything; you'd likely lose a hand. In fact, it's not at all uncommon to find a small child buried in the wrapping come time to clean up.
  • Line-up for the toilets are long...it's best to be carrying a small, screaming child with a really dirty diaper so you have a good excuse to cut queue. If not, you may find yourself outside in the cold, dashing off to take your business off-site. Here's a tip: be sure to grab a tray of chocolates or a household plant on your way out the door, so you can easily whip into a neighbours house and say: "Why, hello! Merry Christmas! Just thought I'd pop over to drop a little something off. Where would you like this plant? No, please...not another word. It's my pleasure. I insist. You want it in the bathroom? That's a wonderful idea."
  • There's a large pallet of Turtles sitting in the one corner, casting an ominous shadow over the tree; Costco would be hard pressed moving that many units in a day.
  • Throughout the day, you'll hear shrieks of horror and assume it's coming from one of the kids; chances are high it's from an adult. This usually occurs after someone has made the heinous mistake of dropping something green onto their plate. Comments range from: "Who the hell brought snap peas? What's this...a spinach salad with raisins in it? I may vomit. Put that back in the fridge and grab that taco dip while you're in there." The idea of eating anything green only appears to be a wise choice when stepping on the scale post-holiday season. That, or when your gums start to bleed, an early warning sign that you're about to get scurvy.
  • My family has an insatiable need for carbohydrates, particularly mashed potatoes. This is clearly an Irish mutation that somewhere along the lines has bled into our gene pool. And we're not complaining. (This may explain the swearing as well...) My husband got stuck peeling the potatoes this year; he asked my mom when the army was going to stop by to collect their rations. This joke gets lost on my family. In fact, any joke about excess gets lost on my family. 
  • Ever seen someone demolish a loaf of home-made bread inside of 10 minutes? Me neither. I was too busy knocking siblings and small children out of the way as I mowed down loaf after loaf. Come to think of it, who fed my kids these last 4 days? Thank God for Santa.
  • The senseless gorging is not considered over until someone takes a knee (à la Tim Tebow) and says, “I have a twist in my stomach. Like a cow. Fetch me a bottle of Bloat-Go.” 
Any mention of the word bloat takes me back to my teenage years, to a dark, cold night when I was rudely awakened in the wee hours of the morning by one of my brothers. He was in a panic and told me I had to quickly hurry outside to help him with the cows. I’ll always remember it as the night I technically learned how to siphon gas – albeit from the gut of a bloated mammal. Apparently the cows had broken out of their corral in the back and had made their way over to a old, wooden bin full of barley, somehow gained access, and then proceeded to gorge on the grain until they reached an alarming state of belly bloat. Their poor stomachs were ridiculously stretched from excessive gas. By the time we got out there, some were already frothing at the mouth, staggering around like drunkards, while others lay on their sides, calmly awaiting the call of death (In fact, very similar to what my family looks like after Christmas dinner...)

My brother had already spoke to the vet and she was on her way with more Bloat-Go, but in the meantime, she told us to prod the cows up and force them to keep walking around. Our goal was to make them belch; it was the only way to get them to expel gas. So what to do? Save for feeding them a Coke through a bendy straw and urging them to burp the vowels, we really only had one alternative. Had we been prepared, we would have had a trocar and cannula on hand, or a sharp knife, and we could have punctured a hole through the sides of their stomachs. Truth be told, we likely could have found a knife but neither one of us had the stomach for that, pun intended.

So that left only one trick…we had to manually siphon the gas. (Translation: set up your sister, who has no idea of the level of stench and horror that awaits her, and then walk away to have a smoke and wait for the vet.) I watched as my brother went up to a cow, stared at it straight in the face, and whispered some soothing words. The Heifer Whisperer. He then inserted a rubber tube into the cow’s mouth, all the way down its throat and presumably into the stomach. He told me that within a few seconds, the insertion of the tube itself should lead to the release of gas; I just had to stand there and supervise. But if I really cared about these animals, he added, I should quickly blow on the tube to make sure it wasn’t obstructed, and then, if nothing was happening, he told me to start sucking to help get the gas out. With the gift of hindsight, I can now say with certainty that my brother had no clue what we were supposed to be doing, he just knew there was no way in hell he was putting his mouth on the tube. He said he’d help do it if he didn’t have such a weak stomach. (Cue walking away, lighting a smoke…) So I was left standing face-to-face with this mammal, both of us extremely uncomfortable with the violation of personal space. As I stood there staring into its big wet eyes, hairy jaw-line, snotty nose and very sloppy mouth, it reminded me of similar disastrous dates throughout high school.

After blowing through the tube to clear it, I counted to three to work up my nerve and then I started to suck. Moments later, the response was explosive. Success hit me with a mouthful of gas so rancid that it could be bottled and used for chemical warfare. The cow stumbled back and looked at me with such gratitude that I almost felt good about what I was doing. Almost. No kidding, I seriously thought I was going to collapse and perish from the vile vapours attacking my senses. But since I was certain my brother would tell the vet to save the cows before helping me, I resolved to stay conscious. Not that the vet and her extra bottles of Bloat-Go would have done me any good at that point anyway.

So as the holiday season grinds to a shuddering (merciful) halt, remember this...before reaching for that third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy, remind yourself there’s no such thing as Bloat-Go for humans. So unless you trust one of your family members to administer a stomach tube, just put down your plate and call it a day.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...