Maybe I should explain that my fear of puke dates back to the early 80s, when my dad and I lived alone for several years (until he remarried when I was eight). When he would get a stomach virus and throw up, it was very scary. I didn't understand what was happening or why he was making such horrible noises. I thought he might be dying. My biggest fear at the time, and for many years to come, was that he would die. I have a memory of him being sick and throwing up and of me running out of the house screaming for someone to help him. I was afraid to go back inside because I didn't know what I'd find. A dead body? It seemed more than possible.
I know this is why I get so freaked out when TJ, for instance, is sick to his stomach. The anticipation of it is intense. My heart races, adrenaline pumps, muscles clench. My physical body feels terrified even though I know intellectually that everything will be fine. Once the person is actively puking, the terror begins to wane. I spring into action faster than you can say "vomit." I'm ready to sit up with you, hold a cold washcloth to your forehead, clean the toilet, give you tiny sips of Ginger ale. Never mind that you might just want to be left alone!