Friday, July 25, 2014


Sometimes I worry about getting sick while travelling.  Call it Sudden Sickness Syndrome.

I don't mean something that needs a doctor's immediate attention, like appendicitis or malaria or getting hit by a bus.  I mean things like my blood sugar abruptly gets way low, and I don't have a source of glucose handy.  Or suddenly finding -- how to put this delicately -- that I need to know where a bathroom is, right the hell now. Or finding out that the result of that awareness is that toilet paper now feels like sandpaper. Or getting a sudden leg cramp while lying in bed, or a muscle spasm while slouched in a chair, or my back abruptly hurts, or I get an acidic stomach. Nothing lethal, but immediately urgent?  Oh, yeah.

These are all things that can freak me out just a bit when I'm at home, alone (in fact, one of them is how I ended up breaking part of my shoulder).  But the idea of them happening overseas, when I'm alone, not comfortably fluent in the language - like this upcoming trip in October -- that possibility actively scares me.  And I don't know what to do to address that fear. I have suggested hiring a cute Danish nurse to accompany me, but my wife seems to have a problem with that. 

Some solutions occur to me -- eat blandly, stay hydrated, carry drugs such as Pepto Bismol (unavailable in France!) and others that are common here. (I recall reading in Airborne, William F. Buckley's book about sailing across the Atlantic, that one of his older female relatives, on the trip, had a compact container of meds that the Red Cross would have envied.)  And even strange solutions - make sure you carry lots of tissues,  bring disposable underwear, always carry a high-sugar granola bar - occur to me. (So this is why American travelers wear those fanny packs!) But what else?  Without being a paranoid American traveler who should have stayed at home, what else?

We're in a position where we can travel -- we don't, a lot, but we can, and sometimes we do -- and when it's we, all is okay.  But when it's just me -- things like this scare me. I resent that fear.  It makes me feel old.

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