I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Anatomy of a Hangover.

I'm sure by this point, I've spent at least six months of my life draped on various couches, staring glazedly at the TV, wishing for death and chalking yet another day up to a waste because of a hangover. As I get older, they get progressively worse, and longer-lasting. Is it because I've drank my liver into oblivion? Perhaps... My old trusty hangover prevention remedy from college: 2 BComplex vitamins, 2 B-12 vitamins, a Centrum, two Alieve, and two Taco-Bell sized glasses of water, no longer takes the edge off of what become more and more memorable hangovers.

But what, exactly is a hangover?

A hangover begins when one opens one's tobacco-encrusted eyes, and thinks "Oh, shit..." For me, at this point, I normally feel like I'm executing some forward flip - it feels like my upper body is vaulting forward, and I'm flipping, and flipping and flipping. There is also usually the heartburn... (re-named during a hangover to "Hot-boin") which, for me is arguably the worst part of the hangover. My stomach seethes with rage at the torment to which I subjected it the previous night, and, passive-aggressive little fucker that it is, produces copious amounts of acid, to digest naught, which it then sends up my esophagus in geysers, eroding at it, and making me groan in pain, and eliminating any possibility of getting back to sleep.

If the hangover is going to be particularly bad, I feel like a butterknife is being driven through my skull and into my brain. That's nice... For less-severe hangovers I don't wake up with a headache, because the Alieve has already quelled that beast.

My mouth is dry and furry, so I have a sip off water which only adds fuel to the fire burning in my stomach.

Then, I get up to pee the pee of the damned. Taking lots of B-vitamins makes your pee bright yellow and sting... so, now it feels like there's fire everywhere - in your stomach, in your wang...delightful.

If I had a say in the matter, I would, at this point, lay in bed, completely unable to get comfortable, and turn on some soothing and brainless feel-good TV, without a lot of fast movements, loud noises, or complex ideas. Today I watched Sister Act, which is a fantastic movie to watch hungover (as is Fried Green Tomatoes) except when Kathy Najimy belts out some loud "F" note, making me grab the bedclothes in pain.

Then, there's the emotional component. As the hangover begins to develop its character a whole host of enjoyable symptoms make themselves known. I groan and whimper for no reason. I'm not ordinarily a noisemaker, but hungover sounds just come out automatically, I guess like a Tourette's patient... Today during Sister Act, I was gripped by a severe depression, and almost cried while the Sisters were singing their new snappy tunes. That lasted about three minutes, and then it passed. Then I whimpered a little more.

There is more "flipping." This is sometimes (usually) accompanied by my eyes inexplicably crossing...with difficulty in uncrossing them. It's also really hard to focus my eyes. Swallowing is also an automatic function that seems to go out the window... I don't know why, but it's really hard for me to successfully swallow saliva sometimes when I'm hungover, and so some gets into my windpipe, and then there's a coughing fit that ensues, which only worsens the headache, and makes me aware of an odd lung mucus buildup, which is impossible to get out.

My mouth, which heretofore has been dry as Death Valley, begins watering. A lot. But it's like not normal spit, it's a lot thinner...and tastes like blood. I wonder why that happens.

Unable to process any complex thoughts, I set forth on my way, showering and eating, breathing heavily and deliberately, with lots of despairing sighs and grunts, bringing us into stage II of the Hangover... Sweating and then twitching, or twitching then sweating. Either one. Usually both. At some point, after I've consumed buckets of iced tea and water, I break out into a cold and copious sweat. Or a hot and copious sweat. The mere act of existing makes me sweat...generously. Once, after one of my cats died on a Sunday and I got shitfaced, the next day, I showed up at the law firm where I was a summer associate, and was in such bad shape with the sweating, that I had to go home. I was soaked upon arriving at work, and, grey-faced and ashen, went to the office manager and told her that I had food poisoning -- which wasn't a complete and total lie. I had a type of poisoning, caused by a food/beverage product I had consumed. If I had stayed, God only knows what unholy terrors that particular hangover would have produced.

I also have odd muscle spasms throughout my body, causing my shoulders to twitch, or my legs to twitch, or my pectoral muscles to twitch, or my knees to twitch or my feet to curl. I hate that part. Also, the yawning. Big, desperate, uncontrollable yawns, followed by a sigh, that reinforce how every fiber of my body hurts. Occasionally, there's the burping... ugh. The burping.

At stage III of the hangover, odd parts of my body experience pronounced pain. Sharp little pricks and itches sprout all over my body like little mushrooms after a rainstorm. My gums might itch. I might have a pain in the middle of my bicep, or in my ankle. Or in my thumb. Or my wrist. Often, my jaw hurts. Probably from the yawning.

And still the thin saliva and the heartburn, and the inability to keep my eyes open or focused... and in general, I feel like there are weights tied to every part of my body...

I'm not sure whether everyone else gets these symptoms, or whether it's just me... but I figured I'd share. On a 1-10 scale of hangover today, I'd say I'm at an 8.7... Skizz.