I don’t remember coming across chewing gum as a little kid. By about year 4 I’d discovered bubble gum, but wasn’t ever very good at blowing bubbles (glass is much better than bubblegum in that respect, even if it doesn’t taste as good ;)). A bit later, maybe in year 8 or 9, someone told me you produce digestive juices when chewing, and if you aren’t eating, you can end up digesting your stomach walls. That didn’t appeal much, so I stopped. It was probably a good thing, because I was a little bit of an addict. Once I decide on something, though, I’m usually pretty consequent about keeping to it. I must have gone 6 years without a single piece.
Then I did my stint as an aupair. I was offered some by one of the kids, and that was that – my chewing-gum-fast was broken. I stuck to sugar free, and only after meals as a way to clean my teeth without actually cleaning them.
It wasn’t until I cut myself in glassblowing school that I realised how awesome it is.
I’m not good at blood. I don’t watch violent films, I don’t watch documentaries about hospitals, I lie down when I have injections or when they have to take blood samples*.
When I cut myself, I’m usually fine until the cut is washed and bandaged (or at least wrapped in paper towels), and then I go all dizzy and fall over. This particular cut wasn’t even that severe. It wasn’t deep, but it did involve blood and a small flap of skin. The teacher noticed me go white and made me sit down at his desk. Everything sounded incredibly far away, and all the colours got mixed up. Then he gave me a piece of chewing gum. I concentrated on keeping it in my mouth, then on chewing. As I chewed, the world slowly came back into focus and regained it’s normal volume.
That was the first time.
I have used the chewing gum trick several times since then, mostly on myself, but occasionally on someone else. I try to carry a small packet with me at all times. If I don’t have chewing gum on hand, then gummi bears or boiled sweets will do, just not as well.
Even if I’m not hurt, and I’m not liable to black out, if I have to concentrate on something, I function better when chewing.
Maybe I was a goat in a former life – they chew cud while they think too.
* you can’t fall over if you’re already lying down.