I slowly opened my eyes, which had been tightly closed in sleep, and quickly realized the room was spinning. I closed and opened them again to make sure. Yes, indeed, the room was spinning. Round and round it went while I desperately tried to get my bearings.
The morning light was just barely seeping through the windows of our bedroom, making it very difficult to make out many of the details of the room. I lay there thinking I was dreaming until our little dog, Georgie, became restless, indicating his need to go outside to do his morning business.
I slowly sat up on the side of our bed with the hopes of feeling better, but I didnt. Being one who doesnt drink alcohol at all, it didnt take me long to realize I was having an episode of vertigo.
Very familiar with bouts of vertigo, I sat there, nauseated and weak. I wondered if I would be able to turn off our house alarm and open the back door for Georgie to go out. My wife, Debra, was out of town on business and it was just Georgie and me in the house. I attempted to take a step, but knew it wasnt going to happen. I had no choice but to crawl and then slowly prop myself up against a piece of furniture to turn off the alarm. Then, I crawled toward the door to open it.
Georgie couldnt understand why I was crawling around but seemed to enjoy the fact that I was down at his level. Using the doorknob for leverage, I pulled myself up and quickly unlocked the door. I stayed propped against the door as George scurried down the steps to the grass. The brisk morning air felt good against my clammy skin.
Georgie decided he would take this particular morning to explore anything and everything outside. Begging him to come back in, I sat on the bench by our backdoor. Its a horrible feeling to be sick and nauseated.
To keep my mind off the fact that my world was spinning, I let my mind wander back to times I was sick through the years. They werent pleasant memories at all but they had one thing in common -- a wet rag. As Georgie brushed past me on his way back in, I knew that was what I needed at that very moment. I needed to go wet a rag.
I grew up believing wet rags had wonderful magical powers. Although only 11 inches square, each and every tiny loop of the terrycloth fabric has the ability to not only absorb water but also to comfort and soothe. There is not a time I can remember when we were sick that someone wasnt immediately summoned to go wet a rag, squeeze it out and bring it back to the one in need.
Mother, I feel like I have a little headache coming on, I would whine. Well, you go lie down and Ill go wet you a rag, shed reply.
The only problem on this occasion was that there was no one to go wet a rag for me. Although we consider Georgie to be somewhat human, he hasnt quite mastered the art of rag wetting.
As I slowly made my way back to the bed, I knew Id have to stop by the bathroom and wet a rag myself. Somehow, I managed to do it -- even though I was sick as a dog. I lay back down, blotted the beads of sweat, folded the moist and comforting washcloth to fit my forehead, placed it there and quickly closed my eyes.
After a few seconds, I pushed it down to completely cover my eyes. Somehow I felt just a little better knowing I now had the power of the rag. I patiently waited for its healing powers to begin.
Growing up, if the wet rag didnt immediately do the trick, the next step was to grab some saltine crackers and ginger ale. We pretty much always had the saltine crackers in the house, but sometimes Mother made Daddy run to the store for the ginger ale.
There was something about the salt from the crackers and the ginger and fizz of the drink that helped settle the stomach and sooth the soul. Combined with the wet rag, it was pretty much guaranteed to heal!
However, the wet rag does have limited powers. I quickly discovered this when I experienced my first kidney stone. I was awakened from a deep sleep to a pain Id never experienced before. I immediately arose to go wet a rag. I thought I had it covered with the rag but soon found out I didnt. As the pain intensified, I assumed I was dying so I awakened Debra to tell her goodbye. The first words out of her mouth, and I kid you not, were, Have you wet a rag?
On the way to the emergency room, I used the wet rag for less of a comforting compress than for something to tightly grip, as the pain grew more and more intense. By the time I arrived at the hospital, the rag was completely tied into a knot and, let me just say, not a pretty one!
There are times when we all become unsettled with our world seeming to spin out of control. We all need some kind of wet rag to get us through the hard times -- something or someone to comfort us and to let us know that eventually it will stop spinning and everything will be all right.
As I continued to think about all of this, I realized what it all boils down to is our need to be comforted. And whats amazing is we all have the ability within us to comfort someone else.
I grew up thinking it was the wet rag that had all the powers when really it was the person who offered it who made the difference. We all need to feel like were not alone in our suffering. Its as simple as that. With the help of others, we become much stronger than we are by ourselves. If someone tells us theres a rainbow after the storm, the rough times become a little easier to bear.
So offer comfort to someone near you who needs it. Who knows? You may be the one who makes the difference for them. You just may be someone elses wet rag!
More with Mark
Macons Cherry Blossom Festival begins Friday. Go to www.cherryblossom.com to see all the fabulous events you can be a part of -- many of them free of charge. Visit Mark at his booth during the Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts Festival on March 23-24. Get in the pink and enjoy these great spring celebrations. For more information, call 751-7429.
Check out Marks website, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.