Have you ever had those moments where you can almost hear yourself mumbling “I want my mommy”? You know the times. You have moved out of the “nest” and are mean to be taking care of yourself. You’re quite happy going about your life until suddenly you are struck down by some foreign germs taking over your body. It all starts with a bit of a sore throat, but you might be convinced it’ll disappear with some tea and a good night’s sleep. Then the congestion comes and brings along the ache in your head. You leave work early to walk slowly to the store and stock up on tea, honey, lemon juice, throat lozenges, and soup. Then you realize that’s not enough and add in some extra vitamin c, echinacea, ibuprofen, and Tylenol. Only, you’re in a foreign country and can’t find the Tylenol – apparently in NZ it’s called Paracetamol. You gather your pile into your backpack, but when you think about walking 2km home up a couple big hills, you burst into tears. You’re just too weak. You gather your emotions long enough to call your flatmate, who actually answers for once, and then wait there pathetically to be rescued. You force yourself to eat some soup, put yourself to bed at 6pm and wake up thirsty and aching in the middle of the night. You’re too stuffed up to breathe, it hurts like crazy to swallow, and it’s all you can do to get through the night.
Or maybe that was just my miserable experience. I called my travel insurance company the next day and had them schedule an appointment for me with a local doctor. I borrowed my flatmate’s truck and found where I had to go, sat patiently in the waiting room, and finally got to see the doctor. He asked what the problem was and got out a tongue depressor. Say “ah” and I opened wide. He took once glance down my throat (without even using the tongue depressor) and said “tonsillitis” in an affirmative manner. “That’s interesting, because I’ve had my tonsils taken out.” “Well, pharangitis then.”
Though I questioned his authority and capability, I didn’t care. All I needed from him was a signature so I could get my antibiotics and be on my way toward improvement. I instructed him on what NOT to prescribe me (due to its ineffectiveness) and left with a smirk. I stopped at the pharmacy where I had to wait for the script to be filled, then went home and crawled into bed for the rest of the week.
It would have been so nice to have someone to take care of me, make me my tea, hold me like mommies do and baby me until I was well again. It would also have been nice if I had gotten sick while still unemployed and looking for work so I didn’t miss out on paid hours. But, we can’t plan those things. I’m traveling for a year by myself and, as they say, getting sick abroad is something that’s bound to happen. I was lucky enough to have flatmates willing to pick me up when I couldn’t make it home, offer me the kiwi version of Sudafed, or grab something at the store for me! They treated me well and I got a lot of reading done that week. I even had a workmate willing to cover me for Wanaka Paragliding when I just couldn’t make it. I may not have had a mommy to nurse me back to health, but I made do with what a traveler can expect, and after a week I was back to about 90%. I remained a bit weaker and more tired than usual, but soon enough I was back to myself again! It of course was not the first time I had been sick without my mommy to take care of me, but it was definitely the worst episode on my travels thus far!