The agony of being sick away from home

Since Wednesday night, I haven’t spent more than a few hours each day away from my bed. I can’t eat anything, I can hardly drink anything and I can’t sleep in the afternoon or evening. I can’t even read because my head hurts too much, and I doubt that writing this post will make me any better either. This makes for some hungry, thirsty, and rather long and uneventful days. Talking on the phone is the most excitement I have had.

I had hoped and hoped that I would be well enough to go to work this evening for my Saturday night sports shift, but that isn’t even happening. My boss doesn’t want to be infected with my stomach virus and I would rather not share as well.

This is the first time I’ve been sick like this since I was a child. I know I was sick in elementary school, but after that, I have no recollection of truly being bedridden.

There have been four times in the past four years where an illness has caught me off guard and I’ve been out of my comfort zone.

The first time was in July 2006 when I was on a summer study abroad program in Austria. I knew something was wrong while I was there, but I didn’t know what it was. When I returned to Ohio, I went to the doctor who gave me medicine that only made me worse. I was really worried about my problems because the beginning of marching band was approaching and I didn’t want to not be able to march. In the end, I was diagnosed with an uncurable illness that is under control with medication. I only missed a day and a half of marching band and wasn’t ever truly bedridden. And quite fortunately, it hasn’t stopped me from doing much since then.

Then, in the summer of 2008, quite far away from everyone I knew in New York City, I went to sleep one evening with some eye pain. I woke up the next morning, with some serious eye pain but really didn’t know what to do. I went to work, where I progressed to miserable and freaked out my bosses by crying, and they suggested their doctors, none of whom would see me. But someone else from the office had recently been to an eye clinic, which is where I headed. They took care of me, said I had an eye ulcer and soon enough, I was better.

Back to Austria, in February 2009, I had returned from my epic trip to London, Dublin and Greece. Then one night, alone in my dorm room and more or less alone in the entire building (it was the semester break), I started to experience some severe stomach pains. I had no money on my phone, so I couldn’t call any of my friends for help if I had needed it and I also didn’t know the number for Austria’s 911. This was the only time I was truly scared about my illness because I was entirely alone.

And then, at Thanksgiving 2009, I decided I had the swine flu, but after a day of sleep, I was ready to go.

This time around, though, everything is different. I’ve been helpless since Tuesday, more or less, and I don’t know what to do with myself. There isn’t much to do anyway.

What I’ve learned through this is that it’s really nice to have a mom take care of you when you are ill. I’m too sick to be doing much of anything, but if I want anything to eat, I have to fix it myself and that means I need to keep cleaning things like the dishwasher and refrigerator handles and the remote so that I don’t leave my germs on things for my roommate. At least my roommate did get me some more chicken broth and ginger ale, which I wouldn’t have been able to do myself because there’s no way I’m getting in my car.

Still, I’m pretty much alone here. This might be my current home, but it’s not homey and my parents’ house is. There are a handful of people I could ask for help, but I’m not that miserable yet. Just if I was home with my mother, I wouldn’t have to ask for help and I wouldn’t worry about infecting my helper.

So now that I’ve survived this hour writing this, I think I’ll migrate to the living room and television, where a Disney movie is in order. I’m thinking “Aladdin” because “Beauty and the Beast” can make me sad, and I’d much rather be happy. And I’m starting to get hungry, so maybe I’ll be able to eat a small amount of chicken broth. Think good thoughts!

How do you deal with illnesses when you’re away from home or traveling?

This entry was posted in Europe, North America, Travel Narrative, U.S. and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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