And then there was the night I spent looking up how to throw up on the internet.
In how to eat in Thailand with a peanut allergy, I mentioned that your body wants to live - you just have to listen to it. Here in Chiang Mai, I got proof.
Taking a recommendation for best Pad Thai in town, I’d set off for dinner, confident in my abilities after two plus months speaking Thai, eating the food, avoiding peanuts, and living.
Two bites into my meal, I knew something was wrong.
Oddly, when you look up “anaphalaxis symptoms” on the internet, one of the ones listed in most of those bulleted lists is sense of impending doom. As a symptom. Medically.
And, it’s accurate. Pretty much anyone with food allergies can tell you about their weird sixth food sense. We rarely talk about it because even we think it’s weird. But it’s real. Somewhere, layered underneath how to dress properly, how to use language, how to run and probably even how to blink, lies the core of what we actually are in this world.
We are creatures that are generally really good at not dying.
When push comes to shove, your body will generally act without giving you an option. It will survive, avoid danger, and live on to let you keep having thoughts about the best course of action.
In science fiction, there’s a popular trope - that in the future, artificial intelligences will be running all the really dangerous stuff because they’ll be millions of times faster at thinking and won’t make mistakes. In that scenario, when something goes massively wrong, we won’t get consulted. A decision will just be made, acted upon, and we’ll left with the aftermath, figuring out what just happened.
This future freaks a lot of people out. Not me. We already live in it. Think about the times you’ve crashed on a bike or in a car or ducked something suddenly coming at your head. You didn’t think then - and it’s a good thing, too. You just gave in to the thing that’s always been better and faster than your brain. Your body. Not dying.
Which, for what it’s worth, is what my body did, that very night. It stopped me from eating, shot a shit ton of adrenaline through my veins (which helped greatly with the clear thinking - I had a path and timeline to the hospital, friends contacted and updated, and all four epipens in hand within minutes), then did its best to get rid of the problem substance.
The feeling - the “impending doom” is hard to describe. If your body were a car, it’d be like the steering wheel and brakes suddenly acting on their own, the radio turning off, and one blinker coming on, to show you the danger.
You could talk to the car. But it doesn’t speak your language. And you don’t really speak car. But there you are, bound together. You, suddenly dumb and slow and trying not to mess things up. The car sure, clear, confident. Saying trust me.