The new year started with a hiccup. Actually, a lot of hiccups.
No, the fact that our fridge just upped and died, was an Old Year hiccup. 2015 brought literal hiccups. Both B and I started hiccuping out of the blue.
And no, we had not kissed the man with the cork hat, as we call imbibing in too much of the fruit of the vine in my home language. B never drinks any alcoholic beverages and I, well, uhm, let’s just say I am trying not to. Again. (One of my New Year’s attempts – resolution is such a loaded word, don’t you think?)
After trying the hiccups to stop with the usual hold-your-breath-and-drink-some-water remedy, and succeeding – till it started up again – my need-to-know urge kicked in and I went where no librarian should go for authoritative information. I consulted the Google Guru.
“A hiccup, medically known as SDF (synchronous diaphragmatic flutter) or singultus, is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm which occurs at the same time as a contraction of the voice box (larynx) and total closure of the glottis, effectively blocking air intake. The glottis is the middle part of the larynx, where the vocal cords are located. Experts are not sure what causes hiccups and why we do them. Sometimes, hiccups are said to have a psychological, rather than a physical cause – however, nobody really knows.” ~ Medicalnewstoday
Ah. So our diaphragms had been a-fluttering. Just because they could, apparently. Which has me wondering – is there a teensy-weensy part of my brain that decides spontaneously to give the command: “Diaphragm, flutter!” and, “Diaphragm, stop fluttering!”?
An international respiratory research group proposed in 2003 that the hiccup is an evolutionary remnant of earlier amphibian respiration. Whoa, wait a bit – amphibian?
Frogs and salamanders and all those slithery things?! And I can’t even swim…
According to Guinness World Records, the American Charles Osborne (born 1894) had the hiccups for 68 years, from 1922 to 1990, an estimated 430 million hiccups. Apparently they finally stopped mysteriously about one year before his death. Hmmm, at least I had about 57 relatively-hiccup-free years…
In 2007, 15 year old Florida teenager, Jennifer Mee, was recorded as hiccuping around 50 times per minute for more than five weeks. Her condition left doctors baffled and earned her international publicity as “The Hiccup Girl”. Three years later, she was convicted for first-degree felony murder. I’m sure the murder had nothing to do with the hiccups, but I can imagine being driven to murder by incessant, senseless fluttering of the diaphragm, can’t you? That is, if somebody does not kill you for irritating them beforehand.
In Slavic, Baltic and Hungarian folklore, again according to my friend Google, it is said that hiccups occur when the person experiencing them is being talked about by someone not present. In Indian, Nepalese, and Arabic folklore, they are said to occur when the person experiencing them is being thought of by somebody close.
I sure hope they were the latter!
There are many superstitious and folk remedies for hiccups, like the one I mentioned. What is your go-to cure?
[As an aside, singultus is Latin for the act of catching one’s breath while sobbing. No, I don’t know Latin, Google says so. Quite a descriptive term, yes?]