Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog post about motion sickness, and so many bloggers emailed me with helpful suggestions and alternatives to dramamine (which works but makes me a zombie), that I thought I would try out some of the alternatives on this last vacation. Chicago is famous for traffic jams, and all that stop-and-go traffic usually does make me sick. Taking ginger (chewable tablets, 67.5 mg, every four hours) worked wonderfully.
Perhaps the success with the ginger made me overconfident, though. We spent the last day of our vacation at a place famous for its sixteen roller coasters. Yes, that day was the kind of thing that happens when teenagers comprise half the voting power in family decisions. With-a-Why, who has the swing vote, almost always votes with the teenagers instead of the two parents, and so we ended up, on a sunny day that reached 100 degrees, riding what my kids claim are world-famous roller coasters. It did occur to me, as we watched medics carry away a person who had fainted in line, that standing in long lines in the midst of a record-setting heat wave was probably far more dangerous than any of the rides in the park.
I hadn't been on a roller coaster since puberty. (My motion sickness kicked in at about the same time my breasts appeared.) I have fond memories of the roller coasters of my childhood though: big wooden roller coasters, usually with a couple big hills and a few curves. You'd climb into a metal car with a bunch of your friends, and just a simple black bar would hold you in. The car would creak and shudder up that first big hill, with everyone in the car urging it on, and then you'd get a glimpse of the whole amusement park - or the ocean if you were at the boardwalk - before the car would take a plunge. That was a wonderful moment, a sudden rush of adrenaline, as the car plummeted downhill, fast and then faster, with everyone screaming and waving their hands in the air.
So with this happy memory and with supreme confidence in the motion sickness medicine I had gotten at the health food store, I let my kids talk me into trying a roller coaster called the Raptor . I should have figured out I was in trouble when I saw how complicated the mechanism was that strapped me in. No simple black bar but a full body lock, the kind of thing I would expect if I were going on a space shuttle. My claustrophobia kicked in before the ride even started: thick shields pinned me in so tight that I could not move anything but my feet.
Let me just say that this roller coaster had almost nothing in common with the roller coasters of my childhood. Instead, it was a throwback to the instruments of torture that were so popular during the middle ages. There was no gradual ascent, no thrilling ride down a hill. Instead my skull rattled inside my head as I was twisted, turned, spun upside down.
Suffice it to say that the motion sickness medicine I was testing out that day was not quite strong enough.