When I was 10 years old, I experienced severe dehydration for the first time in my life. I never took good care of myself, often forgetting vital needs such as drinking water or eating my mother's cooking unless I was reminded to do so. It worried my mother relentlessly, but at that time in my life, I only saw how those necessities were a waste of time, time I would much rather be spending either contemplating if I'm a bother to my family and everyone around me or sleeping on my spring mattress if my insomnia allowed me. I was unhappy with myself and thought that if I didn't like myself, how could anyone?
On the night of a school day, I was zoning out in my combo shower bathtub as water pelted against me. It was the sudden feeling of weakness and incoordination that snapped me out of my blank state and into a confused and slightly alarmed one. My gut told me that something wasn't right and that I needed to get my mother's attention as soon as possible. I called out "Mama!", but my voice felt weak and quiet compared to the sound of the falling water hitting the floor. I tried to call out "Mama!" again, louder this time, but it just came out even more weak and desperate than the first. I knew I needed my mom to hear me, so I tried to focus on the water faucet in front of me. The waterfall around me seemed to have increased in sound as I dragged my heavy arm up towards the silver knob. With a sloppy grip and the help of gravity, I managed to turn off the water. Once greeted with silence, I called out one last "Mama!" before I blinked and found myself on the bathtub floor with my mom frantically asking me if I was okay. I didn't know what was going on, nor why I was on the floor, so I asked her "What happened?"
"I don't know," was my mother's blunt reply, "I heard you calling me and when I entered the bathroom, you fainted but I caught you before you fell."
"Oh," was all I could say. I couldn't bring myself to believe that my mom caught me as I didn't hear her open the bathroom door, but I went along with what she said. I was still dazed and confused, so I didn't notice my mother pulling off the yellow towel from its rack and wrapping it around me until I stood up. With some help getting out of the slippery tub, my mom walked me back to the bedroom I shared with my little sister, who was hanging out in the nearby bedroom with our older sister. I can't remember who picked my clothing, but soon I was wearing clothes again when my dad came over to see what was going on.
He and my mom were speaking in Spanish while I was zoning out once again before I suddenly felt like the beans and rice I recently ate were trying to climb their way back out of my throat. Walking out of my room, my parents asked "Where are you going?"
"To the bathroom," was my simple response. "I'm going to throw up."
"Don't lock the door," my mother warned. I can't remember if I either nodded or replied in agreement before entering the small, old, and slightly moldy bathroom and emptied my stomach from its contents into the toilet bowl.
Flushing my previous meal away, I got up and started to head back to my room when I saw my mom waiting outside the door, giving me a concerned look. She told me that I looked pale and to go to sleep while she goes to get something for me. I simply agreed again before I made my way back to my bed. I got under the covers without changing my clothing and tried to sleep, somehow forgetting that my mom was coming back until she entered my room with a glass of salted water.
"It's to keep the water in your body," was my mom's explanation.
I didn't realize as I drank the disgusting salted drink and promptly headed towards the bathroom afterwards, but I was going to repeat the same pattern of feeling weak, vomiting, drinking salted water, going to the bathroom, and feeling weak again for the next hour or two. I had just flushed the toilet for the umpteenth time when the world suddenly spun for just a second before everything went black. When I was aware of the world again, the first thing I noticed was that I didn't feel weak or tired anymore. In fact, I didn't feel anything anymore. I simply stayed laying on the floor, resting against the textured wall beside the locked door my parents were knocking on. My dad was shouting if I was okay and to open the door, but I didn't respond. My attention was directed towards the bleeding finger I must have cut on my way to the ground.
I don't know how long it took for my parents to realize I fainted again nor how long it took for them to unlock the door. I was just barely aware of the world around me. When my dad finally opened the door and picked me up, I distantly heard him ask me something but I didn't respond.
As I was carried out by my father, I noticed a nearby door open, my brother's bedroom door. The world suddenly felt noisy before my dad said in a panicked voice "Jacy, are you okay? Say something!"
"Yeah, I'm okay," was what I wanted to tell him so that he wouldn't worry, but I couldn't form the words. As confusion slowly crept towards me like lions creeping towards their prey, my dad laid me onto my bed and after a moment or two, I was hit by intense nausea. Not wanting to vomit on myself, I miraculously regained my ability to move and pulled myself to my left bedside to puke. Once my parents and I realized that I was about to throw up on a pillow, my mom quickly gave me a trash can protected by two layers of Wal-Mart bags. I gave the trash can whatever I had left in my stomach before setting it aside, utterly exhausted. I had a moment to realize that my siblings were in the room, looking at me with worry.
My father's panicked voice from before probably told my siblings that something was horribly wrong and they wanted to check on me. Once they realized that I was going to be okay, they went back to their rooms. Eventually, my dad left to do something as well, leaving me alone with my mother. A few moments silently passed between us before tears began to well up and I started to cry.
"Why are you crying?" my mom questioned with pure confusion on her face.
"It's because," I managed to choke out between my sobs, "you all care about me."
My mom looked at me in disbelief before telling me "Jacy, of course we care about you." I chose not to respond to her and continued to cry.
I didn't want to tell my mother that I had previously thought she and the rest of my family didn't care about me and how glad I was to be wrong. It sounded too ridiculous now that I knew the truth and I didn't want to cause a bigger scene than what was already made. It was easier to just accept the situation as it was and move forward in my life, which was exactly what I did. I still forget to eat or drink from time to time, old habits die hard, but I did start taking better care of myself, if not for me, then for my family.