I recently went traipsing through Europe. I ate German sausage in Bavaria, walked over the mountains of Switzerland and shopped in Austria. I did other things too (in case you were wondering) but the food and the mountains were the highlights. And shopping at Swarovski.
I was pretty sick while overseas. For those of you who don’t know, I live with chronic illness, meaning that while some days are easier than others, I never get better. I always have some level of pain and other symptoms to manage. It also means I am immunocompromised, so I pick up every bug that is doing the rounds.
I am immunocompromised, so I pick up every bug that is doing the rounds.
I got sick pretty much as soon as I landed overseas. The first thing I picked up was the local gastro bug. It wasn’t too bad, just stomach cramps and diarrhoea for two days. I figured out it was coming from the tap water and stuck to bottled water instead. Voila! The pain stopped.
I had one good day, then I picked up a cold, probably from travelling on a crowded train all day. I tried wearing a mask, but it was a thousand degrees on that train and I couldn’t breathe. I ditched the mask in favour of staying alive. That night, a raging sore throat kept me awake, followed by a cough that lasted two weeks. All this was happening during a freak heatwave in Germany. Oh joy!
The cough finally backed off after I landed in Switzerland. I had a few good days, although I spent them trying to survive the stupid heatwave in a country not designed for hot weather. I went for a long walk one day—too long, as it turns out—and the next day my hip flared up bad. I mean, I could hardly walk, the pain was so severe.
I went for a long walk and the next day my hip flared up bad.
I took painkillers and tried going for walks but my progress was very slow. Going up or down hills was a novel challenge. And don’t even get me started on stairs. I suddenly realised how badly some people need lifts, and how inaccessible many places still are for such people. Somehow I managed to ascend several mountains and made it home again in one piece.
I remember sitting in the apartment, crying from the pain, looking out the window at the surrounding alpine mountains topped with snow, even though it was summer. The nearby waterfall fell into the lush valley below with a soft steadiness I found soothing. There were sheep grazing nearby with bells round their necks and I was regaled with their musical bell-ringing from the moment I woke up till the moment I passed out at night.
‘If I’m going to be sick,’ I reflected, ‘This is the perfect place to do it.’
‘If I’m going to be sick, this is the perfect place to do it.’
Will I recover from the flare-up? Will I pick up any more exotic European bugs? Will I ever get a chance to enjoy the holiday? Tune in next week for Part 2 of Travel Diaries of a Sick Girl: It still Sucks, But the View’s Amazing!