• Jo

There was an old lady

Updated: Sep 24


A while back I swallowed a GIANT bug while out on a run. Said bug seemed to whack my tonsils at the speed of a bullet before getting stuck at the top of my oesophagus. And there it stayed for far longer than I can emotionally manage to think about.

I continued running, obviously. Because once I’ve committed to doing something, choking to death or not, I will finish it. As I slowly jogged past a bunch of people waiting at a bus stop, I began to cough. Fits of coughs escaped my unmasked face, as I spat and snorted and used very inappropriate language. The bus stop folk glanced at me as surreptitiously as possible – ‘maybe she has Covid’ I heard them think (it was during that time). Unsurprisingly no one offered to help, as they shuffled in the opposite direction.

I soon passed the bus stop at the pace of a four-year-old putting their shoes on, eyes streaming and nausea building. I then realised to my horror that my body was going to try harder to get rid of the bug. Fortunately I reached a small bush at a very good time – I’ll let your imagination fill in this bit. After all that however, the creature was still in my throat, I could feel it there, possibly laying eggs by now. I coughed some more and then my body did something EVEN WORSE… it swallowed! While I felt better about no longer choking, I felt worse about having a disgusting bug traveling through my digestive system.

I wiped my face with my shirt and looked back at the bus stop folk who were now trying very hard to maintain their disinterest. If I’d been back in Johannesburg there would have been gasps and at least one ‘haai khona’ a ‘shame’ and an ‘eish’. I was quite pleased that little attention came my way in mind-your-business-England as I continued half-jogging, my head dropped down in shame.

At this point everything in me wanted to give in. I just wanted to go home, climb into a bath and never run again. I was now quite literally the old lady that swallowed a (dinosaur-sized) fly, “perhaps she’ll die”. But I didn’t stop running – and I didn’t die. I somehow continued to run for another 20 minutes, completing my training plan for the day. I didn’t hit any personal goals on that run, and my pace was slower than usual, but I finished it. No one was more surprised than I was. When I got home, I downed lots of water and then sat on the floor a bit feeling weird. Then I felt really proud of myself.

Now… what did I learn from swallowing a bug? Well, firstly, to close my mouth while running – particularly when it’s very windy and the wind is blowing directly into my face. As this might make breathing tricky, I’ve been told it’s good to try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Secondly, there will always be silly, horrid, yucky things that throw us a little off track. Sometimes these things will make us want to give up or change course. These distractions can be quick and fleeting, or they can wedge themselves within us, making us feel ill. We can beat them, no matter their shape and form.

As we continue to move through times, which to many is more than a lot to swallow, I hope you manage to find your way through. I wish you perseverance, courage and luck.

( I’d love to hear more about what topics interest you, how you are and any thoughts you have. Please comment on this post or email me. You can also like This Time on Facebook for updates).

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