I have always loved traveling and taking family vacations. Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred on these trips.
However, one vacation didn't turn out quite like it was planned.
In fall 2003, I was 17, and my entire extended family (40-plus people) went on a mini-vacation to celebrate my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. We stayed at a waterpark in Wisconsin Dells.
My parents, sister, and I aren't huge fans of rides and slides, but on the last day there, I decided I would go down the waterslide if Dad did it first.
Dad went down, and then I got in a tube and excitedly went down the slide. I remember it being fast and fun. Then, I felt something on my stomach. I had no clue what it was or what had happened. I wasn't hurt, something just felt weird.
At the bottom, I put my hand over my stomach tube and realized it was missing! I pulled my tankini up a bit and looked. My G-tube had popped and fallen out! With all of these people playing in the water and on the slides, nobody noticed that my stomach tube was now somewhere in the pool.
I ran over and told my Dad.
“Well, go tell the lifeguard,” he said.
I turned and looked over at the lifeguard. He was gorgeous -- like lights down from the sky, hair blowing in the wind, choir-singing “AHHHHH” gorgeous. (In fact, because of his beauty I later named him after the 80s model Fabio in my head.)
And, here I was -- a nerdy, 17-year-old girl -- embarrassed that my stomach tube is now in the pool (that all three of the waterslides empty into). I look at my Dad like he is crazy and say, “NO WAY! He is too cute! Don't tell him who it belongs to. I'm going to hide.”
I ran behind a tree and watched as my Dad walked over and talked to the lifeguard. My Dad told me when I was older that he told the lifeguard I was embarrassed and described what my G-tube looked like. Next thing I know, “Fabio” is roping off the entire waterslide area and shutting down the slides. It looked like something out of a crime show, and people were gathering, starting to wonder what was going on.
I hoped nobody knew it was me that caused the scene or why the slides were shut down. Fabio then swam around the entire pool until he came back up to my Dad with the G-tube (discreetly covered in his hand).
What does my Dad do? Without even thinking, Dad looks over at me (and Mom who is nearby) and yells, “Cheriz, we got it!”
I stayed right behind that tree and didn't move a muscle. Dad brought it over, and Mom took it to the bathroom to wash.
We didn't have any extras on us. I had changed my stomach tube before, but never because it had popped. I had only needed to change my G-tube when it got old and drained on its own. So, we didn't think to bring a spare one with us. I mean, who would of thought during a weekend trip it would fall out?!
The doctors had told us that if I ever had to replace my G-tube, make sure to do it fast, or it could be hard to find the hole in my stomach. After Mom thoroughly washed the popped-out G-tube, we put it back in. We taped it down really well and talked about how it was almost check-out time back at the hotel.
But, I was bummed. I had fun going down the slide and wanted a few more chances, so I asked if I could go down again.
Of course, Mom and Dad were never ones to single me out or not let me have fun like a “non-CF” kid. They agreed only if I would go down the two-person tubes, so that Dad could hold onto me, while I had my hands over my stomach to be “safe.” I agreed, and we went down a couple more times before we checked out and headed home.
Luckily, we had a spare G-tube at home, and everything was fine after that. It was sooo embarrassing when it was happening, but now when I think back, I laugh and laugh. Scary, embarrassing stuff can happen a lot with CF, so I find it helpful to always have a good sense of humor about it.