Because I care

The dictionary defines a hiccup as an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic sound like that of a cough. Today a co-worker was afflicted with a case of the hiccups. It didn't look like it was any fun.

For some reason, I don't get hiccups very often. I think that Wrigley Field was still without lights when I last had them. For some reason, I just don't get hiccups. It's probably because I workout so much.

When her hiccups began, the entire newsroom was brought to a virtual standstill. Actually, only a couple of us got to witness the episode, and I was probably the only one to stop and comment about it. I believe that I said, "Wow." What I was thinking was, "Wow. This is better than cable television."

But then, being the sensitive, caring person that I am, I tried to help her through her condition. The only way I have heard of to get rid of hiccups is to startle the affected individual. I said "boo" a couple of times to try and scare her. I said it in a soft, monotone voice because even though I wanted to help her, I didn't want the whole office thinking I was some kind of crazed "boo yeller." It didn't seem to work, but I felt better for trying.

After a while, the dreaded hiccups seemed to die away on their own accord, and everything was back to normal. But since I'm such a concerned individual and I want to be able to assist the next time her glottis decides to involuntarily open and close, coupled with the fact that I didn't have anything better to write about this week, I decided to delve into the mischievous world of the hiccup.

I went online to do some research on the topic. Did you know that the world record for continuous hiccuping is approximately 68 years? From sometime in 1922 until June 5, 1990, Charles Osborne had the longest bout of hiccups ever recorded. It apparently all started when he fell while hanging a 350-pound hog for butchering. Accounts say that Mr. Osborne initially hiccuped at a rate of around 40 per minute but gradually slowed to about 20 per minute later on in life. It is estimated that he hiccuped more than 430 million times in his lifetime. All I can say is "Wow. Cable television isn't so bad after all."

While I was still online, I wanted to see what kind of cures there are for hiccups. Some of the more credible solutions involved spoonfuls of sugar, taking an antacid, getting tickled, drinking gulps of water, sticking your fingers in your ears, breathing into a bag, pulling on your tongue and the one that I have always heard about, getting startled or scared.

Some other cures floating around out there involve peanut butter, apple cider vinegar, drinking water through a paper towel, salt, yanking on your ear lobes, burping, coughing, sneezing, blowing on your thumb, standing on your head, repeatedly telling yourself "I am not a fish," applying pressure to your forehead just above your eyes, pinching the back of your shoulder until it hurts, chewing gum, taking a hot bath or shower, taking a cold bath or shower, breathing into your shirt, balancing something on your nose, smelling the fumes from a lighted candle, eating a Popsicle, eating a Hot Pocket, eating a marshmallow, swallowing dry bread, drinking dill pickle juice, eating a spoonful of mustard, eating a Slim Jim and drinking a Dr. Pepper, quickly drinking a cup of room temperature Coca-Cola, taking five fast, deep breaths and after the last inhale, taking three sips of 7-Up without exhaling and last but by no means least, eating a dill pickle while you lie on your back with your mouth wide open, letting your head hang over the edge of a couch or bed, breathing deeply and slowly.

One of my other co-workers suggested another possible cure. It involves sticking a fork in a glass of water and putting the tines of the fork against your forehead while you slam down the glass of water. He swears that it works 99 percent of the time. When I asked if he could back up his claims with scientific data he told me no and left the room. Who am I to argue with scientifically-based facts such as these. I'm guessing that when you accidentally jab the fork in your eyeball, the hiccups don't seem like such a big deal anymore.

The next time my co-worker is tormented by this nasty respiratory malady, I plan to be ready to help. Plus it gives me an excuse to stock up on Popsicles, Slim Jims, Hot Pockets, marshmallows, mustard, Dr. Pepper, Coke, 7-Up and pickles. I'm not going to make her say "I am not a fish" because that just seems silly.

I write this as a public service message to all you hiccupers out there. Hopefully this column will help you confront your demons in some small way. I promise you the next time I witness a hiccup attack, I will be prepared.

And your glottis will be thankful.

You can contact Wallace at gwallace@bcrnews.com. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.

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