Tag Archives: sickness

It’s a Sickness


I’ve been thinking about sickness lately, primarily because most everyone in our office suite has taken a turn and the rest of us are a little jumpy.  I mean, someone coughs, and the rest of us instinctively dive across the room and stick to the wall like Velcro.  Miraculously, we all still seem to like each other: We’re just equally terrified of each other right now.

And then last Sunday my wife and I enjoyed a nice afternoon date at a neighborhood urgent care and discovered that she had strep throat.  She probably had strep throat before we went to urgent care, but one can never be certain.  I mostly spent my time there hovering over a plastic chair and practicing not breathing.  It was just for fourteen thousand hours or so.

I’m not technically a germophobe.  I’m more of a germo-philosopher who would rather not get sick.

The worst part of when “something is going around” has to be the paranoia.  If someone with the plague sneezes in your mouth, well sure, buy a box of Kleenex and head for the sofa, but more often than not we spend our waking hours convinced that every single physical contact with anything is fatal (e.g., Where has that paperclip been?).  This is quickly confirmed by the tickling in the throat and the warm body temperature that immediately arrives after coming into contact with every single thing.

So what do you do when the world you inhabit is virus-infested and nowhere is safe?  Maybe you’re the type that wears a mask and washes your hands like you’re destroying evidence, or maybe you’re the type that lives in denial convinced that you’ve cracked the code and are dodging invisible germs like a fighter pilot.  Either way, you can’t hide forever, and you have to go out and live life anyway.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.  Life can sometimes feel like a dangerous place with invisible forces that you don’t know how to avoid.  Go live life anyway.  If it gets you, at least go down swinging.

A Difficult Journey

Although less than flattering, I will tell the story.

Our business in India last week took us further away from the Delhi airport each day, culminating in a three-hour climb up a winding, dangerous, spectacular road in the Himalayas.  On this final climb, as we dodged death (and cattle) ahead of us and absorbed the awesome views on both sides of us, I developed a case of motion sickness.  Nothing too terrible, just enough to create a fuss for our hosts, which led to some rest, a nice visit from a young Indian doctor, and a bottle of Sprite.  By evening, I felt better and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful mountain village.

At 6:30am the following morning (warning: graphic material ahead), things went south.  Literally.  I will spare the terrible details, but suffice it to say that the next couple of hours were not pretty due to the onset of a malady common to travelers in the region.  But to somehow make things worse, we were scheduled to leave that morning with the following itinerary: a three-hour drive down the mountain, followed by a seven-hour drive to Delhi; followed by a six-hour wait in the airport; followed by an eight-hour flight to Amsterdam; followed by a one-hour race across the airport; followed by a ten-hour flight to Los Angeles.

And I felt like crap, pardon the ironic word choice.

One of my colleagues provided a miracle drug to stop the I’d-rather-not-say, and we were faced with a decision on what to do with me.  As my two colleagues considered donating me to India and our host offered to call an ambulance, I declared that I had four goals: (1) get down the mountain; (2) get to the airport in Delhi; (3) get to Amsterdam; and (4) get to Los Angeles.  And that I would take them one at a time.

Well, I strapped myself in, armed with a granola bar, drugs, a bottled water, prayer, and another Sprite, and off we went after goal number one.  It did not go so well.  At one point on the journey down the mountain, we stopped for my traveling mates to have lunch.  The smell of Indian food was not my friend, and I considered jumping off the mountain but did not have enough energy, so I strapped myself back in and continued on the journey.

I did survive the mountain and felt that there was hope—in fact, the lower elevation seemed to help.  On phase two of the journey—the seven-hour drive to Delhi—we stopped at a roadside convenience store where I discovered a can of plain Pringle’s and thought that God might like me again.  But alas, by the time night fell and we reached the airport, and possibly because we reached the crazy rush hour traffic of Delhi, I started to feel terrible again.  But hey, goal number two was accomplished.

The six-hour wait in the airport is not a fond memory.  On the plus side, I did eat most of a sandwich and then slept for a few hours sprawled across three plastic chairs, but by the time we boarded the flight to Amsterdam, I approached my lowest moment.  As the plane took off (thus ensuring I would reach goal number three), I longed for death once again.  I was certain that I would do ugly things in the airplane lavatory and even unfastened my seatbelt so that I could run for it—only you can’t run to the lavatory with drink carts in the aisle, and once you get there they are almost always occupied, and should a miracle occur and one be vacant I can’t fit in one anyway, much less if I am having convulsions.  And any change of clothes was packed in checked luggage.  I wished the plane would crash and somehow kill only me.

But somehow, after a few hours of misery, I improved enough for some fitful sleep, and by the time we completed my third goal I was in good enough shape to make it across the airport to board the plane to Los Angeles.

The final ten hours were not the happiest of my life, but I think you get the drift of the story by now.  I made it home after the terrible thirty-five hour journey and fully believe in miracles.

So why do I share such an embarrassing story?  I have faced a few significant challenges in my life, and there will be more for me and also for you.  When such challenges arise, and the journey ahead seems perilous and terrible with no guarantee of survival, sometimes you must set out on the journey anyway.

When such a journey is inevitable, fix your eyes on the road ahead, take it one step at a time, hope for some friends to journey with you, and just try to hold on.  You might not make it, but then again, you might.