Fear of Hiccups

Ivan-Wild Waves R

My sister asked me to write a blog on the Fear of Hiccups. This is not a fear of the uncomfortable physical sensation of “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.”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The hiccups to which she is referring, the fear-striking kind, are the things that, according to Robert Burns make “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” (Translation: Go oft awry.)

A hiccup is a glitch that makes the best-laid plans go all gangly. Deb was fearful of hiccups in coordinating plans to attend Michael and Nicole’s wedding in Connecticut, which involved flying Mom from Colorado, Madison from Ireland, and Claire, John, and herself from Seattle (at two different times to accommodate work schedules.) There were a couple of flight hiccups,  but Deb managed to work them out. Nonetheless it was a fearful time.

That’s the thing about being an organized person, the type that knows how to best lay plans—there is alway the fear of hiccups. They hang over those lovely plans like Damocles’ sword, threatening the slash, cut, burn, hack, and raise all sorts of gangly havoc.

I, too, make plans, and like Deb, have a respectful fear of hiccups. Like the ocean, one does not dismiss them or ignore their power or swim around mindlessly (like the girl in Jaws.)

I recently coordinated a move from one house to another. If there was a situation fraught with hiccupery, this was it. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle inching slowly towards one another, everything had to be carefully orchestrated. There were a couple of hiccups (the tile guy’s truck breaking down was a rather large one), but otherwise the pieces came together. Our sofa and loveseat have not yet arrived—they are missing pieces of the puzzle.

One of the interesting things about hiccups, besides their unexpected disruption, is the time interval in which they occur. In the case of Deb’s flight schedules or our recent move, it was a matter of weeks. However, a hiccup can occur over the span of years, or even a lifetime, altering everything.

Jack and I wanted to attend the wedding; we started to plan for it, but a hiccup called “cancer” changed our plans. Cancer changed a lot of plans. There are other plans it will probably change that I know not of right now. The hiccups are lurking out there, waiting to go all gangly on me.

So what do you do with hiccups? I don’t mind fearing them; that’s the sensible thing to do, but I refuse to be afraid of them. The difference is that the former means making those best-laid plans with a measure of flexibility; the latter means not making any plans at all in order to avoid disappointment. (“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” and all that stuff.)

A respectful fear means I will still swim in the ocean, knowing how to hold my breath when a high roller knocks me off my feet. It also means I don’t go swimming alone naked in the moonlight. I still “run my heedless ways”, but not all that heedlessly.

Last week I got knocked about a bit, knowing that all my family was gathered together on the East coast while I was here on the West coast. I had to hold my breath for a while, which happens to be one way to cure the hiccups.


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