Monday, February 06, 2006


Hiccups. What a dumb ailment. The diaphragm decides, "Today I'm going to try something different!" Breathing becomes a game of musical chairs, halting everything at random intervals. And for some of us, apparently, it's not manifested as the silly little symptoms that deserve the cute name "hiccups". For some, like me, it just friggin' keeps happening for hours on end, sometimes a day or more. These aren't little humorous I've-had-some-beer noises I make either. They're oh-shit-my-lungs-are-imploding noises.

For the longest time I tried to imagine what on Earth would cause a person to enter such convulsions, seemingly at random. A few years ago I finally stumbled upon an answer that made some sense. Like most biological curiosities, evolution sheds some insightful light on the situation:
So if I were a tadpole or a lungfish, I'd be a ridiculously strong breather. Oh, the oxygen my body would process. Oh, the majestically brute strength my gills would have. Oh, if only I were a partially-evolved, creepy-looking fish, I wouldn't have spent most of yesterday feeling like I was going to die.

I had long since given up hope in drinking water quickly, eating bread slowly, spoonfuls of sugar, swallowing upside-down, all the standard "cures". I won't even try gargling, because one good extra-strength hiccup during that time and I'm reasonably sure I would drown. All the same, yesterday my wife convinced me to give sugar a shot. So, I downed it, as I would a shot of tequila, coughed up a cloud of white dust, and once my vision returned, the hiccups were gone for an hour or two. Bliss, I tell you.

Umm, so to anyone out there suffering from horrendously hellish hiccups (or allegedly alluring alliteration), I feel for you.

The evolutionary stuff is all well and good when explaining how the muscles and nerves are capable of hicing-up, but my wife found something that much better explains how a person gets into the predicament in the first place and why they continue:
It's still not much comfort, but knowing is better than not knowing. :^)